Like all good things from fashion history, retro football kits have recently made a comeback. Embracing the sport-leisure look, Supreme released their pinstripe Soccer Polos for Spring/Summer 2018, which alluded to the kit worn by the Tottenham Hotspurs in 1992 during their Premier League’s finale. Around the same time, other brands like Off-White and Kith have been producing multiple kit-inspired merchandise, further solidifying football’s status as streetwear inspiration. It is no coincidence that this trend was released around the same time as one of the biggest sports events of the year: The World Cup.
With its popularity, this international football championship has become a platform for sportswear brands to release new content. For this event, brands like Adidas and Nike have revisited their archives for their FIFA World Cup 2018 uniforms. While performance and visibility is important on the field, these major sportswear designers also need to consider the appeal these uniforms have off the pitch. On the 14 th of June, the World Cup’s kick-off, millions tuned in to watch what has rapidly become streetwear’s ultimate fashion show.
Taking a closer look at the kits Nike created this year, the Nigerian Football team’s shirt stands out in more ways than one. They not only became the first team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, but also became that with one of the most popular kit, which sold out in under three hours. The home kit, with its now iconic zigzag pattern, has a lime green torso with black and white sleeves. Giving off a speedy feel, these uniforms pay homage to their 1994 shirt by mimicking the eagle feather-inspired design. At London’s Nike Town, customers queued up while thousands more took to Nike’s online store the day of the release. Their underdog status seems to have won over the hearts of many fans, but the statement and streetwear potential these kits have is what make them so desirable.
If you think about it, the stadium is one of the best places to promote merchandise as people come together to make history. For football fans, these limited edition kits are a source of pride and the emotions involved when watching their favourite team further heighten the uniform’s appeal. Besides this, Nigerian’s team kit, arguably, has some of the best on-camera appeal seen in sports history. With green floral pattern on the warm up suits to intensify the florescent green shirt, Nike’s creation not only becomes a distinctive and original look, but one that sets trends. With floral patterns re-emerging every spring, the inclusion of the highlighter green adds a fashionable edge other teams seem to be lacking. As seen on runways by influential brands like Valentino, Tom Ford, Mulberry, Marni and Prada, lime green has become the new statement colour. Together, the clash of colours and patterns make for an unstoppable kit every streetwear fan could support.
Another fan favourite was Adidas’ uniform for Germany. In particular, their away shirt offers up another show-stopping look for football and streetwear fans. In 1990, Germany wore a green kit with a diagonal pattern during their World Cup game against England. This was the year the team went to win the title and Adidas’ 2018 kit makes direct reference to it. The modern interpretation features teal stripes gradually forming an intricate chevron patter. While this unique colour has attracted many fans already, their home jersey with switch lines also offers a more subtle, classic look for football fans looking to update their wardrobes.
The significance of Germany’s kit is that, through revisiting history, they are fighting for their fifth World Cup gold, despite their loss to Mexico during their first game. The technicolour uniforms break with the pure and crisp traditions usually upheld by Germany’s team in recent years. This radical break therefore brings about a new rebellious generation of football players for Germany’s younger fans to revel in, while still nodding to the older generation of fans who remember the 1990 World Cup. While the ‘90s trend still finds its way into Ready-to-Wear and Couture fashion, Adidas’ game-changing designs are sure to even catch attention from non- football fans as well.
With hours’ worth of games to watch, the FIFA World Cup might be the Ultimate Streetwear Show for sports fans, producing kits combining both the history of the game with the trends of today. The ‘90s still revive themselves in sportswear, but the FIFA kits this year seem to mix camera-ready uniforms and national pride to mark a new standard for football. Sports and street style have long had a bi-directional relationship, but what brands like Nike and Adidas have created for the 2018 World Cup will surely become collector’s items both football and streetwear fans can bond over. After all, isn’t the intention of a good, friendly match to bring people together over their shared love of sport?
By Nina Hanz