When you hear someone has bought something from Versace, a football jersey is probably one of the last things you would expect them to purchase. However, the Milanese fashion house has released its very own jersey ahead of the FIFA World Cup this summer.
Gold and red graphics adorn the front of the jersey, featuring familiar Medusa imagery and intricate baroque detailing. The sleeves bear a stripe with the designer’s name, and the piece doubles up as a lifestyle option in addition to an athletic one with the smart addition of a rib knit crewneck.
As the lines between luxury wear and streetwear have come to blur, football jerseys have suddenly become fashion’s latest sporting obsession. Brands such as A Bathing Ape, Palace, Supreme, KITH, Burberry, and Dolce & Gabbana have all experimented with football-inspired releases.
Traditionally, luxury brands have taken inspiration from the athletic habits of the rich, most notably in the form of Ralph Lauren Polo’s golf, sailing, polo, and rugby inspired collections.
However, football, as a traditionally working-class sport in Europe, has escaped such patronage until recently. Footballers themselves have become more fashion-conscious, with Paul Pogba claiming his own Adidas sub-label and Cristiano Ronaldo launching his own underwear and denim brands. On a larger scale, the money that has flooded into the sport in the last ten years has changed the image of the footballer immensely, and the globalization of football has made them akin to pop stars.
Conscious of a life after football, footballer’s build their brands through social media and marketing, which means presenting a certain image of themselves. This is often manifested through fashion. Xabi Alonso, for example, is the epitome of the wealthy European gentleman, with a spectacular watch collection and consistently colour-coordinated outfits, while on the other hand the aforementioned Pogba has grown into a streetwear force in his own right.
Fashion has always taken cues from subcultures it has decided are cool, from skateboarding to race-car driving. However, there is a greater connotation to wearing a football jersey. Supporting a football team is not something to be taken lightly; your choice of team is often indicative of your geography, social class, and even religion. Manchester City fans are plastics and Chelsea fans are posh, or so the stereotypes go the world over. The shirt simply carries a lot of weight. And so that is why this is an effective impact piece; when the name on the jersey has historically been so important, it is a statement of assertion and exclusivity to say you are Team Versace.