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FLANNELS THINKS: WHY FOOTBALL HAS BECOME THE ULTIMATE NEW LUXURY

FLANNELS THINKS: WHY FOOTBALL HAS BECOME THE ULTIMATE NEW LUXURY

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FLANNELS THINKS:

WHY FOOTBALL HAS BECOME THE ULTIMATE NEW LUXURY

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AUTHOR: Elgar Johnson Photographer: jane doe

Football crazy… football mad! Apparently, that’s the case, as the currency of football and footballers has probably never been more valuable. So, what happens when these two worlds collide? We’re all aboard the fashion fun bus where does it go, where does it stop, what's the sign on the lolly pop? It's the football stop......

Football and fashion are two words that I like individually, but when you put them together it makes me feel a bit uneasy. Sure, the two have bounced off each other for many years but in terms of actual stylish footballers there really haven’t been many in my opinion.

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THE STARS ALIGNED IN THE LATE '90s WHEN A VERY HANDSOME FOOTBALLER MET ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL POP STARS ON THE PLANET...

You instantly think of David Beckham when you hear these two words and for so many the football/fashion fusion has always been about replicating his success. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but his number of iconic style moments probably won't happen again. The stars aligned in the late ‘90s when a very handsome footballer met one of the most powerful pop stars on the planet (remember Victoria was way more famous than her future husband at the time), then great management and a void in the showbusiness market after the death of Princess Diana allowed a personality to slip right in, and that just happened to be David Beckham.

I think the greatest impact to come from the Beckham era is that it made fans who were stereotyped as fake Burberry and Stone Island-wearing headhunters into cultured and experimental conscious fashion-heads. Along with the introduction of social media and a very slow pick up from brands about just how influential football players are, football and fashion cosied up to create one of the most lucrative power couples on the planet.
As a lifelong football fan, it is interesting to see the evolution of the sport, the fans and the perception of the game.

I'm particularly proud to be a football fan now despite unpleasant remarks in the past and snobbery from the industries that now crave our attention. The lockdowns were incredibly significant for football. Footballers showed new emotions and were able to use their voice and influence as a positive force. It wasn't just about taking selfies wearing outfits that sometimes looked like they had bought everything from FLANNELS but worn it all at once...

This new responsibility also made footballers very aware of their image and what they were projecting. Good stylists were hired, and PR managers came in to help control this phenomenon. And in this new environment footballing heroes emerged: Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson, Bukayo Saka, Trent Alexander Arnold etc. These young men are less brash and more sensitive. For years footballers were cruelly assumed by a bunch of people, who either had no idea about the sport or were riddled with jealousy, to be stupid with nothing to say. But all of a sudden, we heard them speaking, and low and behold what they were saying made sense. Cynics will say these good deeds were part of a clever marketing plan and they could be right to a certain extent but imagine if governments were using these same marketing plans. Bingo.

IN A WAY FOOTBALL HAS BECOME CHIC, SOMETHING I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD SAY.

In a way football has become chic, something I never thought I would ever say. It's less about the glitz and bravado and more about looking famous and attractive. The clothes are more important than the cars and the trainers are more important than the chain.

Declan Rice and Virgil van Dijk, both cover stars for my magazine Circle Zero Eight, were selected because of their understated style and confidence that feels more approachable and real. They’re professional and their main focus is winning. They love their clothes and they already know what they like. They don't pick out fashion for shock value, they pick out clothes to look good.

Some of the brands that are now aligning themselves with football, however, are showing a desperate lack of knowledge of the sport. Often their interpretation seems based on how football has been portrayed in the past, which can be quite scary. But for the most part it's fun and exciting to see different designers experimenting in this way. Brands like Off-White, through the genius of the late Virgil Abloh, already had a great relationship with sport so their crossover to working with AC Milan feels seamless. If you get it right like that then the fashion industry will benefit hugely, as there’s nothing quite like the loyalty of a football fan.

But make no mistake, there are still footballers who are almost a throwback to the generations before. For example, there's Jack Grealish, someone who likes to show off his body and is happy to be the heartthrob, experiment with his fashion and just having a good time. I'm quite grateful sport is about heroes and idols, and they come in lots of different forms. Grealish gives off the same vibe as a young George Best - full of charm and charisma but also an enigma. No wonder he joined Harry Styles as an official Gucci ambassador earlier this year.

GREALISH GIVES OFF THE SAME VIBES AS A YOUNG GEORGE BEST - FULL OF CHARM AND CHARISMA BUT ALSO AN ENIGMA.

Over the last couple of years, it's been almost impossible not to see a footballer on the cover of a magazine. This won't last forever. But their influence potentially will. In a way this moment feels a bit like punk; it didn't last that long but it lives long in our memories.


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