OKAYAFRICA X NIKE SHOWCASE AFRICA TO THE WORLD

We are weeks into the tournament and somehow we are still talking about Nigeria’s World Cup Collection. No need to roll your eyes though as this is not another discussion on style and fashion. Instead, we’re here to highlight the greater significance of Nike’s project through the newfound interest and awareness it has generated for a nation and continent that stems well beyond the world of soccer.

It was only right for Nike to link up with OkayAfrica, a news and media platform that celebrates all facets of African culture for a North American audience. A few weeks ago, the two threw a Nigeria pre-World Cup watch party in Brooklyn as an opportunity to leverage the hype around this collection with all the work that OkayAfrica has done and continues to do.
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The whole project is enlightening to anyone. For me specifically, who has grown so used to hearing and seeing all the negative and unfortunate things about Africa, it is refreshing to finally be exposed to a new image that celebrates the vibrancy of a culture in spite of all this adversity. I am thankful that soccer now serves as a conduit to Africa’s art, music, food, and culture, however, I realize that the beauty of this continent was always there for me if I had only looked for it.

OkayAfrica remains committed to this work, and we were lucky to have spent time with them where they spoke at length on how the World Cup has reinvigorated this effort to showcase Africa not just to a diaspora community, but to the world. Read our full interview with OkayAfrica’s Director of Events/Activations Sinat Giwa, with Editor-in-Chief Rachel Hislop chiming in below.


Can you tell us about how you/OkayAfrica and Nike connected for the project?
We’d been planning events for World Cup 2018 for a while now, knowing that it was a key moment for our community of Africans globally. Once we knew the five African countries that would be making it to the World Cup – Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Tunisia – we began to plan around ways to reach the parts of our community that represent each country respectively. Nike approached us about activating around the Nigeria team kits because of our strong connection to the Nigerian Diaspora community, especially in New York. We knew that this event would not only be a pivotal moment for our core sports audience globally but that this collaboration would underscore how big of a moment these kits would be for Nigerian culture.

Why did Nike’s Naija campaign resonate with you specifically and why is it important to OkayAfrica?
The campaign resonated because of its focus on the culture of soccer and how that extends outside of the game. The campaign was about our culture (a portion of our team that worked on the project is Nigerian). The game is central, but the players, the community rallying, the music, the art, and the fashion surrounding the games have always been just as exciting for OkayAfrica to highlight. It’s what we do.

Can you give us a brief on the creative concept behind the event – bringing in the IG photographers, including music in the mix, etc?
We had the idea to bring a Nigerian party 3.0 to life with a series of wonderful partnerships with dope creatives, movers, and shakers in our community. This was an opportunity to once again leverage our incredible relationships to underscore a pivotal moment. We wanted to create a proper Naija shindig with food, roaming photography and of course JAMS, as music is the framework on which OkayAfrica was built. As for musical talent, Moniki came through with the Afro-Brazilian vibes to remind us that Africans are worldwide and of the connections between Brazil and Nigeria. Moma is one of the best to ever do it, so we had to have him there, and Tunez is the top Nigerian DJ Worldwide – no question. Getting Burna Boy in the mix was incepted way back when we heard his latest project “Outside,” so when the opportunity to add him as a surprise performer came, we knew this was the perfect moment. Having Izzy Odigie solo dancing on the stage, the guys with fresh “Naija” and OkayAfrica logo haircuts as a nod to being in Brooklyn, it all came together wonderfully. Overall we kept it simple with a couple of great photo moments, good vibes, food, and really great music. If you’ve ever been to an OkayAfrica party you know it’s always just a moment to have our people gather and have fun.

The visuals captured are also a major part to the event. How did you fall upon the three photographers chosen to capture the spirit of Naija Worldwide Bash?
We work with Travis Matthews fairly often, since he shot our Fall 2017 campaign for Okayplayer clothing. He’s so talented and amazing at shooting on the fly. His event photography highlights that skill. I’ve been following Bukunmi Grace for a while now and knew she needed to be a part of capturing this event when we first started ideating, and Shako Oteka is the man! He came up from North Carolina on the fly, shot on his own accord and shared these amazing images with me and the team after. I had to include them. It was really special to get these varying perspectives of the event.

What do events like the Naija Worldwide Bash mean to American culture?
It means we (Africans) are here – and we’ve been here! So much so that the spirit of our content and when we gather resonates heavily with the diaspora and those who are searching for ways to connect more intimately with African culture.

What about on a global standpoint?
Same thing. Africa to the World! Our goal as a brand and an editorial platform is to connect people globally to the greatness and diversity of the culture that is cultivated on the continent, and this event was an extension of that work.

What are your comments on the turnout and how the event went?
It was a special one. To look out on the crowd and see not only people from all parts of the continent and the diaspora, but also attendees who may have been discovering our brand for the first time via Nike was really a warming feeling. For those who have been to an OkayAfrica party before, this was a culmination of all of the things we like to provide, good food, vibes, and music. And for those that were experiencing this for the first time, it was the perfect introduction to how we celebrate.

What’s the future for OkayAfrica and soccer?
Rachel: On the website for the World Cup, we’ve tapped several experts in the field to focus on the African countries in the competition—Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

We’ll have articles spanning everything from in-depth looks at the African teams in the competition, profiles on rising stars like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah to the afrobeat music being played in locker rooms before the games, and well pieces about how players are standing up to racism from fans.


We thank OkayAfrica for the opportunity they have provided to us to showcase their own work. We are confident their efforts will keep more eyes on Africa well beyond this summer.


IMAGES BY TRAVIS MATTHEWS


IMAGES BY BUKUNMI GRACE


IMAGES BY SHAKO OTEKA

KTTP EP. 57 | WC18 RECAPS W/ SEBASBK & AFROXANDER

With the World Cup in full swing Drew recaps how teams have done so far with the help of Seb from Sebasbk Photography and Ivan Fernandez, the Afroxander, a writer and photographer based in SoCal. Seb and Drew explore the photography in the game and how influencers, social media, and major brands have affected the business.

The guys revel in the terrible performance from Argentina and highlight Colombia’s wild route to the round of 16. Colombia are coming off a loss, an unexpected win and a narrow 1-0 over Senegal to advance—they will face England on July 3rd. Seb and Drew run down the entire line of teams and debate what could go down in knockout stages. For now, France is bland, Neymar better turn up, and Uruguay could shock everyone.

Ivan Fernandez, or Afroxander, a writer and photographer has worked with GameCrate, Remezcla LA, and LA Weekly. He talks Mexico in the World Cup, their inability to be consistent, and what a win could mean for the Hispanic population in Los Angeles. With Lozano’s goal in the 35th minute over Germany, Mexico could actually see the light and Chicharito begs them to believe. Mexico clearly has the tools, now they need consistency.

One thing we can all get behind is the World Cup’s ability to unite a nation, not under one team, but behind a love for the same sport. Seb said it best, “No matter a language barrier, soccer is a language all its own.” Oh, my heart. Hopefully you all survived doomsday, aka the one day without World Cup action. We certainly can’t wait to see what happens here at Kicks to the Pitch and we will continue to brief you on the action. Personally, I’m hoping we see a lot more of England if you know what I’m sayin’.

OG GRAFFITI LEGEND SABER TALKS ART AND SOCCER

Art and soccer go hand-in-hand – that’s obvious. We see the marriage displayed on our favorite soccer jerseys, we see it on posters, campaigns, and art projects from a novice fan to a recognized artist… there’s art even found in how the beautiful game is even played – many argue that soccer itself is a form of artistic dance. Does it lie in the beauty of art though? Or in the beauty of the game? Perhaps both! Either way, it’s a marriage we always enjoy, no matter the genre, so when we heard OG graffiti legend Saber was involved in adidas Football’s recent Energy Mode X18 event here in Los Angeles, we jumped at the chance to speak with the man to get his thoughts on the relationship between art and soccer, as well as how and why he’s particularly involved, where he would like to see the shared cultures going in the future, and much more.


So, to start, what’s your relationship with soccer?
The first thing I can say is that I played soccer when I was about five… I don’t know shit. I know nothing. World Cup? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? I don’t know what it is. Football… Futbol? Okay… I’ve always appreciated the sport, but then I get sucked into this gig and I’m like okay cool, let’s go! So then I start researching – I didn’t really know much about ‘street league,’ I don’t know about a Tango League – I didn’t know anything about this… But I start seeing videos, I start seeing what these kids are doing and the energy, the technical aspects of how talented these kids are, and I thought it was really cool, man. There’s a lot of energy behind it and I thought that was really moving. When I saw the momentum and saw the energy, I thought that was really cool. It seems like something that’s very positive. I like that it’s aggressive. I also like that it can get aggressive, that it’s pretty hardcore. It can get pretty intense. With street soccer and graffiti, we’re all kind part of being born out of concrete to a certain degree, and I think the competitive spirit might be similar. I don’t do graffiti much anymore – I’m too old and have kids and shit like that, but back in the day we were always are unstoppable.

That’s how people are describing soccer players now: as being “unstoppable.”
Yeah, I was unstoppable back then!. Nothing could stop me, nothing!

So back then, did you see any sort of marriage between the street art/graffiti world and soccer? Do you see it happening now?
Well honestly, for me those worlds didn’t even combine. They didn’t even exist together. So I think adidas, with their efforts and the Tango league and street soccer aspect, it’s nice to see adidas sponsoring these things and making these things happen. It’s only going to grow, and these kids are very competitive! So yeah, clearly they’re going to grow the sport and grow it into something bigger and maybe America will embrace “football” as opposed to [American] “football.” I don’t even watch it. I like violence, so I like watching jujitsu and people killing each other. Other than that, I don’t follow sports and I don’t have time… I’m too caught up with other stuff. But still, I think the energy is very similar and I think what translates that energy is when you have the fashion, you have the momentum of it. You have that action, and I think there are similarities between soccer and art with that.

You can look at other countries where it’s easier to see both cultures of street soccer and graffiti side-by-side – both born from the streets. I mean, you go to a place like Brazil and you’ll have a pickup game on the streets amidst a whole bunch of graffiti, some kids partaking in both. Is that something you’d like to see more of in America?
Absolutely. I would love to see that. That seems to be a more healthy environment. We were born out of the gang mentality. So we didn’t really want to open up to anybody, you know? We kept to ourselves. I think this could be a good bridge – a cultural bridge – between the two worlds and more: music, skateboarding, streetwear… anything really!

SOUTH KOREA FOR THE WIN: A SPECIAL STREET STYLE EDITION

Today marked a monumental win for South Korea within the world of soccer, as they beat Germany in today’s match for the World Cup 2018 with a two-nil win! Out here in Los Angeles, a city with the country’s largest Korean population, let me just say, the high energy, pride, and spirit felt throughout simply cannot be put into words. For those of you who are – or were – rooting for Germany, the Korea win comes as an immense blow given that the country is now out of the World Cup…

While we as a media outlet strive to stay as unbiased as we can, we can’t help but share in the joy our Korean brothers and sisters are feeling right now. In a bid to continue Korean pride, we’ve got a special Street Style fashion editorial that highlights Nike Soccer’s official Korea collection, modeled in Downtown Los Angeles by our very own writer Raymond An who is currently out there in Russia doing his own bit of Korea-support – if you haven’t heard about his #followtheflag initiative yet, click here to find out all about it. Donning South Korea’s official Nike 2018 away kit in white, as well as their travel top in black, the editorial also brings out a retro World Cup piece in blue complete with the Korean flag emblem, as well as an official Korea Football Association cap, all styled in street-ready looks. Check out the special South Korea street style editorial throughout.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NIKE’S SHORT FILM ‘THIS IS NAIJA’

“As an African kid, you don’t learn to play football on the synthetic turf or learn football with well-planned grass, you learn it the hard way… on the street corners.”

The night is alit — the roaring of trumpets, the banging of drums, the cheering of thousands, hopeful — as the Nigerian National Football team prepares for the biggest moments of their lives. For a country of 186 million, 60 percent of which is under the age of 20, this is a new Nigeria. One to which represents a new direction, a new spirit, channeled across a country of over 500 different tribes in what is known collectively as Naija.

In conjunction with Nike, Nigerian photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu captures this vibrant optimism in a new short-film titled, This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story. At the forefront is the new Nigeria home kit, a devilishly beautiful shirt highlighted with neon green accents and an iconic zig-zag pattern which shattered the kit record, by selling out three million units in mere minutes. However, this is a story that runs far deeper than a flashy kit; this is the tale of a country, who’s relatively recent independence, is now revealing its deeply rooted creative history. A history of song and dance, of food and culture, of mythology and folklore — all of which permeates with every pulsating kick of the ball.

“When I think of Naija swag — swag is edgy, edgy is rugged, it’s authentic. Its the way we dress, its the way we carry ourselves, its the way we speak. its the way we move,” says Nigerian musician Nneka. This movement is ever-present in the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and captain John Obi Mikel, but also in rising musical and creative talents such as photographer Yagazie Emezi, filmmaker Grace Ladoja and Wizkid, to name a few.

As the most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria oozes this creativity, as it ranks second worldwide in terms of films produced and one that has birthed musical giants such as Fela Kuti and the Afrobeat movement. Footballing wise, Nigeria continues to grace the world with maestros — from the legendary Nwankwo Kanu and Jay Jay Okocha of the Olympic Gold winning team of 1996 to Premier League stars Alexander Iwobi and Victor Moses.

“Hosting the World Cup in Nigeria would take Nigeria from where it is now amongst some of the poorest countries in the world, to where it can be, one of the most advanced civilizations in the world”, says Nigerian Football legend, Segun Odegbami. The resources are there, the talents is there, the passion and energy is there… it is now up to this new Naija to use football as a catalyst in spearheading both Nigeria and the continent of Africa in what could be a domino effect of infrastructural development for the years to come. Enjoy the full This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story below.

OUR BEST CUSTOMIZED PLAYER BOOTS

Custom boot jobs are a wonderful expression of creativity and uniqueness from players and fans alike. I love seeing players take a silo and customize it into something that represents them, but which ones have done it the best? Let’s find out.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A striker full of flair, full of speed and full of star material. The BVB player turned the spotlight on him when plying his trade at Saint Ettiene, but not just for his footballing ability. When at the French club, he attracted a lot of attention when he took boot customization to a whole other level: a Nike Mercurial Vapor silo covered entirely in Swarovski crystals. The boot took over 50 hours to customize at the cost of £2500. Despite PEA wearing the boots in a pre-match warm-up, the boots were entirely cosmetic and for the aesthetic rather than performance which is why they were never actually worn in a game. Outrageous.

A Japanese delight. For all the Manga fans out there, this Bakary Sako collection is something you might like. A collection of multiple designs, all based around popular Manga shows. Dubbed the “MANGA Collection,” these are a thing of beauty. Designed by Orravan designs – who also designed the above pair – the collection is fully handpainted and the Dragon Ball Z edition was actually worn by the midfielder during a Premier League game.

Sticking with the Manga theme, Lukas Podolski joined in on the fun. Now competing in the J League with Vissel Kobe, the team who just signed Andres Iniesta, the German decided to embrace some Japanese culture. A custom job focusing on Captain Tsubasa, a famous Japanese cartoon show focused on football. He customed the Adidas X17 silo on the Manga show and this wasn’t the first time. He also sported Captain Tsubasa on a pair of adidas F50s.

These are three of my favorite custom jobs released with a few more just missing. I am all for the players wearing custom jobs on the pitch, especially when they’re as good as the ones mentioned. I urge these players to continue doing as they do but also call out for more to join in on the fun and start giving us all more custom jobs. We love them. Don’t we?

CAN I KICK IT? TEYANA TAYLOR KEEPS THAT SAME ENERGY

It’s finally over. The G.O.O.D. Music wave of projects executively produced by Kanye West has passed. While it will be interesting to see if any of these projects last, it is already apparent that Keep That Same Energy, the newest album from Teyana Talor, is the most fun and least-pressurized of the lot. DAYTONAyeKIDS SEE GHOSTS, and NASIR were all statement pieces about the place of each prospective artist’s place in the game or their own lives currently. Taylor’s album feels the least like a statement piece out of the group.

It’s interesting to see how Taylor thrives. She was introduced to the world on MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen, launched her music career with the lackluster “Google Me,” then reinvented herself with 90s nostalgia on her debut VII, which was released four years ago. The benefit of sporadically releasing music, it might be concluded, is that Teyana hasn’t been labeled with a certain identifiable sound. No expectations mean no restraints and K.T.S.E. contains songs entitled “3Way” and closes with “WTP” (an acronym that stands for “Work This P***y”). The music and samples feature a wide range of sounds, from classic soul ballad samples of the Delfonics and Billy Stewart to the kind of up-tempo, electric R&B that could be found at fashion shows. Indeed, it is the least trendy of any of the recent G.O.O.D. Music projects.

Taylor excels in the setting that Kanye creates for her. Her husky singing over the handsome funkiness of “Gonna Love Me” and “Issues/Hold On” show an artist that has grown exceedingly since the days of her 2014 hit “Maybe.” For the most part, she isn’t trying to find a perfect mix between R&B and rap here, but rather express a certain level of joy that is all too frequently missing from her contemporaries. You can hear it in her falsettos on “Gonna Love Me” and in the rhythm of her vocals on “Hurry.” Her confidence on “Rose In Harlem” comes as a surge of electricity to some of her earlier coolness that sounds like the kind of energy from which many of the younger generation of hip-hop artists are making a name for themselves.

K.T.S.E. is not a dramatic departure from VII, but it does suggest Taylor is capable of taking her career and music in multiple directions. Kanye does her voice and tastes justice with his production, and she does him favors by closing out the G.O.O.D. strongly.

THIS WEEKS IG BEST 11

The World Cup has turned us all into full-blown vampires. The majority of the KTTP fam lives in LA, so waking up at 5 am and stressing out over national teams we typically don’t support has become completely normal. As we clamor over things like how amazing it was to see Panama supporters celebrating a goal in a 6-1 loss and the VAR shit-show, soccer creators keep on keepin’ on. Our Korean brothers at Goodneck give us a wild summer drop, J Cole flexes with a vintage Germany kit and Hector Bellerin shows us his cross-over on an ad for Puma Hoops. Lets take that weekly dive into the soccer IG abyss…

☄️ TELSTAR MECHTA x PREDATOR

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Isco gets Spain in the groove! 🕺

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that 98 feeling 🇫🇷 #classicfootballshirts

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🇩🇪

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2018 WC jerseys. #someclassics

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🙂 @pumahoops x @chinatownmarket

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BOWERY FC’S WORLD CUP CLUBHOUSE AND EXHIBIT

Bowery Football Club is keeping it classic this World Cup. The Manhattan-based group is hosting a pop-up exhibition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the duration of the tournament, where you can feast your eyes on beautiful classic kits and watch any of the games on a massive projector screen. Club members Quinn and Carlos were happy to host us for the Switzerland-Serbia game and show us around the former firehouse that they rented out for the four weeks, which comes with a fully stocked bar and a patio out back.

 

Bowery FC teamed up with their partners Lagunitas Ale and Manchester-based Classic Football Shirts, who so graciously supplied the beer and kits, to bring this football idea to fruition. The attention to detail could not be ignored, as the jerseys were arranged by group order for this year’s edition of the World Cup.

Also on display are some of Bowery’s own apparel, my favorites being their Umbro kits and OnlyNY collabs. I have to say, there’s a unique flavor to BFC’s designs; one can tell just by looking at their custom stickers which ooze New York.

One can only feel right at home at the clubhouse thanks to the hospitality of the club members. I even managed to meet a DJ from London who lives in Dubai but was in town for the weekend, which just goes to show how the World Cup and soccer bring the world together, no matter your country of origin or if their team is in the tournament. Shout out again to Quinn and Carlos for having us, and keep up the good work. Bowery Football Club is a true representative of what New York can bring to the playing field.

You can follow Bowery FC on Instagram and Twitter. Their clubhouse exhibit is open for the duration of the World Cup at 411 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.

OUR BEST 11 WORLD CUP KITS EVER

We’re nearly through group stage folks! It’s been a bizarro World Cup and I love it. All chaos and sleep deprivation aside, the lead up to Russia 18 has people chirping about kits and soccer fashion like never before. Thanks in massive part to Nike’s brazen “Naija” collection, which saw the Nigerian National team’s general release jersey sell out worldwide. Soccer kit’s are clearly transcending you’re average Joe with World Cup fever. So what’s led to all this? The kids that were raised on the over-sized, over-the-top and brash soccer design of yesteryear —are all grown up and creating things. It’s with this in mind that I decided to create a list of our (my) all-time best World Cup kits. A couple of rules before we get started 1. One kit per nation. It was a struggle between France 98 home and France 14 away, but only one made the cut. 2. The kit had to actually feature in a World Cup match. Yes, that England 90 third kit was brilliant, alas they never wore it in a match. 3. Lets argue!!!

 


11. Zaire 74 Home (West Germany)

Sponsor: adidas

Worn by: Mwepu Ilunga, Kakoko Etepé, Mavuba Mafulia.

The Story: Worn by one of the most controversial national team’s in the history of world soccer. The 1974 Zaire squad never received payment for their World Cup run and were nearly banned from returning home by their maniacal president. Complete shitstorm aside, The Zaire ‘Leopards’ rocked one of the most provocative kits of their era. At time when most team shirts were basic and unimaginative, but adidas turned heads with this one. The green strip was given yellow accents on a massive collar, three-stripes along the sleeves and the team badge which was enlarged then boldly blasted across the chest. Something like this had never been seen before and it sparked a change we really wouldn’t see until years later.

 

 

10. Holland 14 Away (Brazil)

Sponsor: Nike

Worn by: Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder

The story: Of all the entries I’m expecting this one to get the most flack and that’s ok. Yes the ‘Oranje’ are known as such for their iconic orange strips worn throughout the decades, but this gorgeous away number set it off with clean subtlety. The vibrant royal-blue was given a gradient treatment along with a faint, arrow print. Those orange accents seamlessly popped, especially on that over-sized team badge. This was one that killed  softly. There was also this dude named Robin van Persie who immortalized the kit when he scored a diving header en route to a 5-1 massacre of the defending World Champions.  There was a Puskas nomination, a myriad of memes, and large-scale murals in Amsterdam. Need I say more…

 

9. Italy 94 Home (USA)

Sponsor: Diadora

Worn By: Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi

The Story: Prior to 94 Italy’s kits were, much like their playing style, no-nonsense and simple. The World Cup in the States brought a new wave of panache to shirt design and Diadora was very much on it. This time, the legendary ‘azzurri’ top was given a jacquard treatment. The Italian crest was incorporated into the fabric in an all-over print. Red, white and green triangles graced the collar trim as well as the sleeve cuffs for a subtle touch of nationalism. Add a clean 3D block numbering and you have the makings of a masterpiece. Yes, Roberto Baggio missed one of the most important penalties in soccer history, but he looked damn good in doing so, even with that dodgy ponytail.

 

8. Japan 98 Home (France)

Sponsor: Asics

Worn By:  Hidetoshi Nakata, Shinji Ono, Masashi Nakayama

The Story: France 98 was hands-down my favorite World Cup for quality kits and for good reason. Primarily because It was was the last World Cup prior to Nike and adidas dominating the landscape. It meant less templates and more eye-catching flavors. Case-in-point, the Japanese 98 home strip by Asics. Just like our previous entry we see jacquard employed, only with a more flamboyant stroke. Flames taken directly from Japanese-style tattooing were woven into the ‘Blue Samurai’ shirt. Those same flames where painted white and red then sublimated onto the sleeves to match that giant collar for accents that popped. I absolutely love when a national team kit incorporates an underlying piece of the country’s culture and this blue beauty is a shining example of that.

 

 

 

7. Jamaica 98 Home (France)

Sponsor: Kappa

Worn by: Robbie Earl, Frank Sinclair, Theodore Whitmore

The Story: Kappa has always held a special place in the hearts of soccer purists. It is a staple brand forever associated with the beautiful game and it has never been afraid to be audacious. A prime example of the said audacity, is the shirt worn by the ‘Reggae Boyz’ at France 98. An over-sized, bright-yellow backdrop was divided by a green/black, half-moon, zebraish print. The giant, floppy black collar was classic 90s flair and it ran to the upper chest where it was met with that iconic Kappa logo. This jersey was controlled chaos, which very much epitomized the gun-slinging heart and playing style of Jamaica’s only World Cup side to date.

 

 

6. West Germany 90 Home (Italy)

Sponsor: adidas

Worn by: Jürgen Klinsman, Lothar Mathäus, Rudi Vöeller

The Story:  Italia 90 was the very first World Cup that vaguely graces my memory. I was barley six years of age, but there were a few things I witnessed that profoundly impacted my tiny little brain. First, was my pops screaming like a complete psychopath at a television, second, was Tony Meola’s super mullet and third, was West Germany’s kit. I didn’t know it at the time but German’s had long been associated with beautifully efficient, technical soccer. Their plain white tops became regal and synonymous with soccer royalty. Prior to the 90s, nationalism was a bit complicated for many German’s. So for Italia 90 adidas created a shirt that was not only a sign of loud soccer fashion at the time, but it evoked a brilliant, seamless geometric design that echoed ‘Die Mannchaft’s” ethos. It was also the first time ever, that Germany proudly rocked the black, red and gold seen on their nations flag.

 

 

5. USA 94 Away (USA)

Sponsor: adidas

Worn by: Eric Wynalda, Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas

The Story: World Cup 94 was pure magic for anyone living in the States at the time. The teams, the colors, the rabid fans that infested our streets and of course the kits. While adidas used templates for the likes of Sweden and Bulgaria, they went completely HAM with that red-blooded American ‘stars n’ stripes’ pride..literally. The home kit flaunted red and white stripes, while the away used stars as it’s focal point. Both were obviously taken from our nations flag. You can argue that adi pandered to a soccer fanbase still in its infancy, but American’s love us some in-your-face nationalism, plus the latter of the two strips is legendary. A faded denim blue was dressed up with a gorgeous, elongated star pattern. Red accents came by way of the old (better) USMNT team crest, numbering and adidas branding. Tying it all up was a classically bold, white v-neck collar and sleeve cuffs which served as a clean frame to this gem of a kit.

 

4. France 98 Home (France)

Sponsor: adidas

Worn by: Zinidine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly

The Story: Another 98 entry and Im sure another reason to argue with strangers on the internet. Yes, France always seems to be blessed with stunners but damn it, 98 was special. If it wasn’t the first, it was certainly one of the first national team kits to go back and draw design inspiration from a highly successful side within their history. With a new golden generation set to hit their peak, adidas dipped into its archives to the last and only time ‘Les Bleus’ had won a major trophy— the 1984 European Championship. That horizontal red line followed by three more white ones was taken directly from  Michel Platini’s 84 jersey then placed on a more modern 90s fit. The legendary blue shirt was baggy as all hell, with the thickest three-stripes along the sleeves which led into even thicker cuffs and a gigantic collar Cantona would’ve salivated over. King Eric didn’t play in 98, but Zizou and co. didn’t need him.

 

3. Croatia 98

Sponsor: Lotto

Worn by: Davor Šuker, Slaven Bilić, Igor Tudor

The Story: Lotto, much like Kappa, Umbro and Diadora is another brand that has lost it’s footing, but will forever be woven into the fabric of soccer shirt history. They are responsible for some of the most iconic kits in world football. My favorite of their remarkable catalog is the one worn by Davor Šuker and Co. when they stunned the world at France 98. Barely 7 years old as a nation, Croatia would somehow beat Germany and Holland en route to an unbelievable third place finish. This white, classically over-sized 90s kit somehow made a flowing, red-checkered print look fly as hell. The nationalistic design proved poignant as it was the first time a young nation had a team to root for—and damn was it a good one. It also ended up influencing every design to date, as every Croatia jersey since, has heavily employed those bold red checkers in some form.

 

2. Nigeria 18 Home (Russia)

Sponsor: Nike

Worn by: Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, Kalechi Iheanacho

The Story: Of course it made it. Of course it’s one of the best kits of all time, don’t @ me! Actually @ me, lets fight! All silliness aside Nike and the Nigerian Federation completely destroyed these kits and the entire ‘Naija’ collection.  It’s not only that the jersey is vibrant and jaw-dropping at the core of it’s design, it obviously is. But the truth is it is much more than that. To paraphrase my man Justin Salhani ” It is the story. It’s because it ties back to their culture.” Nigerian players have always been adored for their flair, technical ability and genius on the ball. Legends like Ococha, Yekin and Kanu did it at the highest level, paving the way for ‘Naija’ —which stands for a future based optimism. Nike was very much aware of this as the jersey also draws subtle design from the first time Nigeria qualified for a World Cup in 94. The most hyped kit in history is a visual stunner that pays homage to Nigeria’s past, present and future. That is why it is one of the best ever.

 

1. Mexico 98 Home (France)

Sponsor: ABA Sport

Worn by: Luis Hernandez, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Alberto García Aspe

 

The Story: As an American born to Mexican and Salvadorian parents, my life-long support of the USMNT is quite complicated. The truth it is I grew up rooting against ‘El Tri’. In spite of this blasphemy, I still completely understood that Mexico’s 98 World Cup kit was the greatest national team shirt ever created. My list is rife with jersey’s that tell a story or incorporate a unique strand of cultural pride. Some subtle, some obvious — ABA Sport went the latter on this one. In many ways this kit was par for the 90s course. It was a big ol’ green shirt, that was accented by a massive collar which matched super-thick red and white sleeve cuffs. What elevated the strip was the Aztec calendar print which graced it’s entirety. It was an unprecedented nod to one of the most influential indigenous Mexican people ever. The Aztec were fierce warriors and even played a game similar to modern day soccer, which they called Tlachtli. Never has a kit more aptly represented the history, blood and ethos of its people. That is why it is the undisputed GOAT.