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The Unstoppable Crossover of Sports and Fashion

When it comes to cultural influence, fashion and sports are increasingly intersecting creating historic moments. With young consumers today equally passionate about fashion as they are about sports, it’s a win: win for sports organisations to collaborate with fashion brands. Well executed partnerships add to the appeal of a sporting organisation or event, introducing them to a new fan base who may not have had any interest in the sport until then.

 

Athleisure blends athletic wear with casual fashion and it’s the most obvious example of the sport-fashion intersection. What was once reserved solely for the gym or sports field has now become a staple in everyday wardrobes. Brands have transformed traditional sportswear into versatile and fashionable apparel suitable for various occasions.

 

Beyond athleisure, we are seeing iconic collaborations between sport organisations, athletes and high fashion brands. Gucci and Adidas shocked everyone when they combined the sporty functionality of the German athletic brand and the sleek style of the Italian fashion house through ready-to-wear clothing, accessories, and sneakers and had star players such as Jude Bellingham and Mo Salah launch the collab. Martine Rose and Nike collaborated to promote on field inclusivity by launching a capsule that dissolves the boundaries of men and women’s football styling with gender-free tailored pieces, and Stella McCarthney and Adidas came together to create a high-performance, high-fashion jersey for the Arsenal women team, driving visibility to the strong women revolutionising the game.

 

Just last week, Louis Vuitton, creative director Pharrell Williams had American college football superstars Shilo & Shedeur Sanders walk the runway in the Louis Vuitton 2024 PFW show after telling Pharrell they want to be known for more than just American football. Hector Bellerin was one of the first players to expand horizons and bridge the gap between football and fashion. He walked for Louis Vuitton back in 2019 and the knock on effect led to the likes of Eduardo Camavinga walking for Balenciaga, or Moise Keane for Kid Super. Loewe also pushed the enveloped when they became one of the first luxury brands to sign a female footballer. The brand signed US football captain Megan Rapinoe in January 2020 and released a campaign championing women’s football. Football legends are also bridging the gap, former Arsenal player Ian Wright walked for Labrum’s SS24 show, and last week Ronaldinho walked for Kid Super at the PFW. 

 

Ronaldinho and Kid Super at the Kid Super Paris Fashion Week Show.

The high fashion brands are not just collaborating with sport athletes, they are also collaborating with sport teams. We have seen high fashion brands collaborate with football teams such as Dior and PSG, Off White and AC Milan, Thom Browne and FC Barcelona, Loro Piana and Juventus, Moncler and Inter Milan and many more.

 

Inter Milan coach and players modelling the collab

Some clubs are also collaborating with local designers to have a more authentic and local feel to their fashion collections. Ajax set the bar when they collaborated with Daily Paper, and since then we’ve seen; Arsenal collaborate with London designer and Arsenal fan, Hardy Bleachman, founder of Maharashi to bring together an authentic capsule combining London streetwear and football heritage. Chelsea partner with London based designer Nicholas Daley to create a clothing collection inspired by the first black Chelsea men’s player Paul Canoville. Manchester United collaborate with local Mancunian brand, Drama Call, for a new take on Manchester United’s away jersey from 1988 alongside an apparel capsule. Big clubs giving a local brand a platform to present its unique designs to the world is an authentic way to energise its local community and build an affinity with them. 

 

Arsenal x Maharishi capsule shoot featuring Arsenal players Emile Smith Row and Reiss Nelson

Ajax Daily Paper collab jersey sported by it’s coach and players

 

Seeing sport stars at the fashion shows now is almost a given, with players seeing their fellow team mates or opponents at luxury fashion shows, they themselves want in on it. Trent Alexander-Arnold was seen at the D&G Milan mens fashion show earlier this month and last summer we saw a huge attendance of footballers at the LV Paris Fashion Show, with the football summer break and PFW aligning for once. The likes of Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Marcus Thuram. Jules Kounde, Memphis Depay were in attendance, as well as basketball superstars, Lebron James, Jaylen Brown and Kyle Kuzma.

Marcus Rashford, Jude Bellingham and Jaylen Brown at the summer LV PFW Show

Sport teams in various sports have noticed that a subsection of their fans love the fashion sense of their players and have used this as an opportunity to showcase their players’ pregame or pretraining outfits. You can see their outfits on their own individual social media pages or on dedicated sport x fashion social media pages such as Footballerfits, Blitzfitsetc, League fits etc. 

The NBA has been at the forefront of this with their “tunnel fit pics”. The NBA as an organisation truly appreciates individuality and understands its benefits, as a result they’ve let their players be able to fully express themselves and showcase their unique styles.

 

Sport and fashion is such an interesting intersection and I’m truly enjoying seeing sport brands and fashion brands broaden their horizons and do things never done before. For sport teams to grow their appeal beyond the common fan, it’s important they tap into popular culture, fashion being one of them. Whilst doing this though, they must make sure they don’t ostracise its everyday fans that bleed the team’s colours and watch every game, otherwise the divide between clubs and their fans will continue to grow.

 

By: Subomi Odanye

 

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