Football & Fashion: Teammates or Opponents?
With every passing year, footballers are becoming richer and more recognizable on the pitch. However there’s a new generation of players that are becoming cultural icons beyond the game, and fashion brands are signing them on in order to reach young consumers and build brand cachet. And as a result of this phenomenon: the worlds of football & fashion have arguably never been closer than they are today. They’ve become reliable teammates.
Recent years have seen an increasing number of collaborations between footballers & fashion brands. Think Jack Grealish’s appointment as the official ambassador of Italian luxury brand Gucci, Marcus Rashfords’ philanthropic collaboration with Burberry and various other fashion/football campaigns including Virgil Abloh ground-breaking work with Nike. Locally footballers’ such as Linda Mtambo, Keegan Buchanan & of course Vincent Pule have rebranded and continue to break stereotypes around footballers and have become style pioneers. These collaborations/campaigns underscore the growing the investment in football stars, but also rresent a move away from stale, conventional “boot deals” to a much more layered sponsorships that tap into the players’ interests.
There’s new generation of athletes wanting to project themselves in a different way to the old guard. These players view themselves as individuals with broader cultural ties to the worlds of fashion, music & entertainment. The social media power of footballers is an important factor, as brands are trying to engage a new wave of digital-savvy customers thus its important for these players to communicate to the consumers with a certain level of authenticity. These players tend to have huge following and impressive engagements across different ages and demographics- and this makes them appealing for brands because of their unlimited potential to generate large volumes of interest and sales.
Although self-expression & creativity are at the center of football’s new affinity to fashion, it’s important to state that there’s also a major commercial component to it. Fashion is used a medium to flesh out ballers into cultural icons. Teko Modies’s recent collaboration with South African luxury menswear brand, Relevance For Men– further highlights this convergence. But this convergence between fashion & football is about more than the dressing room developing a dress sense, it’s about expression. It’s seeks to better help us understand & see footballers as people with emotions & passions just like everyone else first, and as professional footballers secondary.
Fashion & football, teammates or opponents? You decide.
Write Up – Kamohelo Phele
Photography – Andile Buka