It seems like the best soccer apparel out now is the one we simply can’t have. While the Nigeria kit release will go down in the history books, it should not completely overshadow the significant contribution made this week by Own Fan Club, an up and coming brand from London that shows us what soccer lifestyle fashion is all about.
There’s another much-hyped release that shares a lot in common with what OFC showed us this week. This, of course, is no other than Virgil Abloh’s collection with Nike which celebrates the signature aesthetic of soccer by highlighting its most recognizable features. Yet while Abloh’s collection brings much clout and style, it pales in comparison to what OFC has done. The brand has more than just fashion behind it. It brings with it an authenticity not yet seen in the soccer lifestyle market.
It reminds us that soccer at its heart was never about the glamor. Instead, the sport was about a simplicity and accessibility that are perfectly captured in the brand’s decision to repurpose Hawaiian shirts. On their own, the shirts are easily dismissible, however, a slight stroke of genius was all that was needed to make these shirts memorable.
Much like Abloh, OFC pays homage to soccer’s distinct design language. Incorporating old logos from some of the biggest clubs with the typography of old sponsors and jersey numbers, it reflects on the unique relationship between all these features. The collection is a trip down memory lane to a fonder time where disparate elements such as team and sponsor logos complemented and enhanced the overall look of a kit. It is no surprise that OFC uses the ’90s as inspiration as this era provides a plethora of examples, whether it be Arsenal with JVC or Dortmund with Die Continentale, of teams that are difficult to disassociate from the companies they repped.
Though we can’t make this disassociation, the larger discussion at play with this collection is the very real disassociation we can make between soccer’s signature aesthetic and the kits that act as its customary canvas. Own Fan Club’s offering clearly demonstrates that soccer has a communicable design aesthetic. Harnessed with a raw, edgy, and simply pure energy, it proves that soccer fashion is ultimately what we make of it.
With this said, I think it is necessary to address what the term “soccer lifestyle” actually entails. There’s a misconception that somehow the term implies a perfect balance of the two concepts. This should not be the case though as it is the soccer component that should be more heavily prioritized. As seen through OFC’s example, it is ultimately the soccer component that elevates the lifestyle and not vice versa, and that is why I think every soccer fan should be appreciative of what Own Fan Club has given us.
Images via Soccerbible.