For this installment of Female is Football, we link up with Jessica Vincent. A recent grad of Long Beach State. Jessica played 4 years at CSULB and was an integral part of the team each of those years. We spent time with Jessica on the campus of CSULB, hit the streets of downtown Long Beach, and also caught the sunset at the beach. Jessica definitely brought the heat on her feet with Nike x Off-White Vapor Maxes and Prestos to accent the looks that include everything from a BALR crop-top and hoodie to a customized PSG 2019 home kit. Check out the shoot and learn more about Jessica below.
Tell us your story. Where are you from? How’d you get into soccer? Where did you play?
I’m actually from Redondo Beach California. I have lived by the beach my entire life and that has definitely been my favorite part about where I live. I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old. It was just something I thought I would try out and my father decided to be the coach of the team. It was actually a coed team. I don’t really remember my first game but my parents never stop telling the story because they say I actually scored 5 goals, but the plot twist was that I scored 2 goals for the other team and 3 for my own team. I think I just dribbled the ball to the nearest net. I started to fall in love with the sport when it became more competitive and I was challenged and forced to make sacrifices for it. I play central midfield, and at times I play out wide as a forward/winger. Center mid has always resonated with me because I like to be in the middle of the field and involved with a lot of the action. I love play-making more than anything.
I just finished playing for Long Beach State and I just recently graduated actually a few weeks ago. Now I am looking to play overseas within the next few months. My favorite professional team of all time is Barcelona. And my favorite professional player of all time is Lionel Messi, but my favorite team [at] the moment is PSG.
How would you describe your style?
My style is urban industrial and when I’m not wearing street clothes, I’m wearing athletic clothing(LuLu lemon, Nike, Off-White). And if I’m not doing either of those styles, then I’m dressed up(fashionova, top shop, Eden sky, IamGia, Kith, etc).
What are your current favorite boots?
My favorite boots right now are the Nike Phantoms.
What are your favorite sneakers?
My go-to sneakers are probably the Vapor Max.
Give us your top three guilty pleasure foods.
Top three guilty pleasure foods have to be: Canes, any kind of Mexican food, and chocolate ice cream.
How about for music?
Guilty pleasures for music [are] 90’s R&B tracks (except R-Kelly), Jhené Aiko, and Drake.
What are you listening to right now?
Sativa by Jhené Aiko.
What are your pet peeves?
Some of my biggest pet peeves are people who talk a lot but [can’t] back it up, loud obnoxious people, [and] people with bad hygiene.
What do you admire most in others?
Personality traits I admire most are people who are passionate, inspired, [and] motivating.
And now for the rapid fire section:
Shake Shack or In-N-Out?
Netflix of Hulu?
Red or Blue?
Scoring a goal or assisting a goal?
Iced Coffee or Hot?
How do you think style affects your confidence on and off the pitch?
I think style definitely plays a huge role in my confidence on and off the field. I’ve always lived by the motto “look good, play good”. I feel more myself when I am wearing the things that I like and I feel better about myself. I used to think the cleats I was rocking were the reason I had a good game. Definitely style adds to your confidence.
On this episode of KTTP Presents: Unboxing, we unbox adidas’ commemorative 70 year anniversary pack for the Copa Mundial. The pack features both a street and boot version of the mundial retooled with primeknit uppers. The boot also features the updated Cop 19.1 sole place making for a superlight update to a classic. Be sure to head over to soccer.com for the restock on the Copa 70YR pack and pick up your pair while they last.
It’s reallly what we obsess about, the inspiration. In the world of sneakers we’ve seen everything from fighter jets to teddy bears spark the genesis for some the most iconic silos ever created. Shoes built for athletic performance that were so well designed they became lifestyle legend. The magic was always in blending function with undeniable aesthetic. While that hasn’t always translated to the soccer pitch, more and more the parallels are magnetizing. In many cases it was designers with a background in architecture or automobile design that proved most prolific. Case in point, Arnau Sanjuan, the Spanish designer of the Copa 19+.
On the surface Arnau’s path to adidas super designer is puzzling. It isn’t until you delve to the beginning of his story that it all makes sense. A child from Spain with a love for soccer, sneakers, cars, motorcycles, and penchant for art.
“Since I was a kid I always loved to draw. In school, I would not only draw shoes but cars and motorcycles. After I finished my bachelors in Spain I actually started studying mechanics and at some point after I began working as a motor cycle mechanic. But, I was still missing the design aspect. I started with the engineering and then got into transportation design.”
It wasn’t that his love for sneakers had died, but more the logistics of perusing a real career and supporting himself that led him to automobile design. It was a calculated stroke of genius that would build a strong foundation not only for him to eat, but to create as well.
“At the time in Barcelona there wasn’t any program specific to footwear so that’s why I chose to study transportation. Once you master how to design cars and motorcycles you also learn to design more product specific disciplines. Obviously I loved this because now I could get paid to shape these ideas for future consumers. I started working at GM Europe, designing motorcycles in Barcelona then customs in Costa Rica.”
It’s at this point you start to scrape the engine that drives Arnau’s concepts. His mockups look like hyper-technical storyboards for vehicles. He still had a ways to go however, you don’t just make the jump from GM to adidas without some help.
“When I was in Costa Rica I had a friend who worked at adidas and that really interested me. He showed me the place he worked at in Germany and it looked amazing. He said there was a good atmosphere and I thought that it made sense. Attaching futuristic design with fashion using various materials. It was then that I started to seriously draw shoes. I was also growing a bit tired of Transportation design so I figured it was time to start.”
The wheels were in motion. Sanjuan was all in but knew he needed a more refined education and more importantly hours of drawing/work.
“I never went to school or had formal training. I was always collecting shoes and always loved it. But again there wasn’t a school in Spain at the time that focused on this. It wasn’t until I left my country that I truly saw the possibilities and I wanted to redo my portfolio, I saw the possibilities, I even took Pensole academy courses online. So more and more I wanted to find a job as a footwear designer. I decided I wanted to try and wouldn’t stop until I got a job. I did this Pensole course in the meantime and step by step I felt my interest was going in that direction. I was fighting and fighting until eventually I got hired. I was very surprised actually comparing the automotive industry to footwear design. I knew this is where I needed to work.”
Adding to Arnau’s evergrowing pedigree is the fact that he was born and raised in Barcelona. He grew up playing the beautiful game and supporting one of the greatest clubs in its history. When ever he goes back to Barcelona he watches games with friends and family, soccer was/is a part of his life. In spite of this, Sanjuan first got his feet wet on the lifestyle side of things with adidas Originals.
“When I first came to adidas, I actually started working in Originals on the men’s side, more lifestyle-focused. It was super helpful as it was my first experience at a big company. I felt like always understood trends but at Originals I really learned more.”
It was when Arnau was able to dig into the adidas archives that things really opened for him. He gained a serious understanding of the importance of tried and true design along with the importance of a silhouette.
“I think once I moved to performance it really helped me to have this background in lifestyle within the same company and bring it to soccer. For example, when we talk about high fashion we always talk about the silhouette, it needs to be beautiful and that was a focus at originals. When I moved to the performance side that’s something I brought with me. I said, “let’s focus on the silhouette.” Because the silhouette is the first thing that the consumer sees. When they’re passing the shop or when they’re at a certain distance that’s the first thing they see; the silhouette and the color. So when you feel attracted to that you’re going to step in and want to look at the shoe more. So for me, the Silhouette, the proportions, and the shape are all very important. I felt that was missing in football a bit as well. We had the innovation and the tech but not the aesthetic.”
Another thing that tapping into the adi archives gave Arnau was the ability to see a direct lineage or evolution chart for many classic silos. This would prove beneficial when he finally made that jump to the soccer side of things. Especially when he was tasked with creating the modern version of the most iconic soccer boot ever.
“The inspiration came from the original Copa Mundial. It is obviously super iconic, maybe the most iconic football boot ever. When you give a kid a pen and ask him to draw a football boot, he’ll usually draw a black boot with three stripes (the Copa Mundial). So we went to the first Copa Mundial and went straight to the core. We looked at the leather and we really wanted to celebrate the most iconic part of the shoe. It’s a leather shoe with quilting and it is obvious you will see this repetitive leather quilting and following the shape of the boot. Super anatomical and we really took that design element to celebrate that on the new silhouette. Also, the Copa is the fingerprint of adidas, it’s the core of football. It’s authentic, beautiful, it’s leather but at the same time, it incorporates the latest technology. So it’s progressive but authentic to adidas’s history. “
As we look to the future much like Arnau’s story it’s important to look back. For decades the function over aesthetic paradigm was gospel. Things have clearly changed and now more than ever soccer is fashion even within performance. Both sides bleed into each other. Players want a fly looking soccer boot with a fly looking kit and so do consumers.
“For me, I am working on the latest innovation for what we can bring on pitch, but also sometimes when we combine the lifestyle aspects with some of the performance uppers, I think this stuff can still work. There are still people asking for that kind of product. At the end of the day if you make those links. For example the Ace 16 + Ultraboost laceless. It was innovative performance tech with the iconic boost and it became super popular. People really loved it. Even if the lifestyle trends change, we’re coming from an era of more socklike silos of 2-3 years ago. A lot of the high fashion brands are now creating over constructed sneakers. I think there is always a space to bring the latest innovation from performance and mix it with the lifestyle tooling and it will attract people for sure. I also think it really depends on finding the right silhouettes that are working for lifestyle. But it’s something we’re always working on with a strategy team. We decide which silo can create an impact and also to help the franchise more. “
Hawaii, the most isolated population center on the globe with a culture unlike any other place on the globe, is hardly a place you would expect to find someone making waves in football culture. But making waves is exactly what Max Anton owner and founder of Paradise Soccer Club is doing. He is helping to change football and its cultural landscape in America and abroad with his store, brand, and club.
Max had a typical Island upbringing growing up playing basketball, baseball, going to the beach, hiking, bodyboarding, bodysurfing and enjoying everything his paradisiacal home had to offer. But he was also introduced to the beautiful game at a young age.
“I grew up playing AYSO, that was probably my first introduction into soccer as a little kid, I was probably 5, 6 years old…In high school is when I got more serious with soccer…Around 16 we took a trip to Europe and played against Ajax and Anderlecht and Norwich City…with Honolulu Bulls.”
That was major for kids growing up in Hawaii—a place that is hardly a hotbed for soccer. “Here in Hawaii soccer is definitely not the number one sport. I wouldn’t say it’s number two, I wouldn’t say it’s number three, I wouldn’t say it’s number four…Definitely an alternative sport….That trip was probably one of the biggest trips of my life where I felt I could compete on a world-level.”
Competing internationally and with top clubs on the mainland was an unprecedented achievement for a Hawaii club. “Being in Hawaii your whole life you play against the same kids growing up. Usually when you travel to the mainland you get hammered…Our team was kind of an all-star team. We were one of the the first teams ever from Hawaii to win Regionals (Region 4 includes the Western States) and win Nationals when we were U19.”
“Our age group was one of the more successful age groups in Hawaii for the Olympic Development Program…85 and 84 (kids born in 1985 and 1984) were able to set records… a record amount of players on the Region 4 squad…and to compete for the National Team. We had a lot of [Hawaii kids]…on that…Region 4…team…Our whole team was made up of Region 4 players and we had 2 or 3 guys that were on the National Team or National Team alternates…”
Anybody who has spent any extended period of time in the Aloha State understands just how unique of a place it is. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean about halfway between North America and Asia, the Hawaiian Islands have a cultural identity of East meets West knit together beautifully by the Native Hawaiian culture and Spirit of Aloha.
“In a sense, Hawaii is so isolated from the United States, we’re in our own country. We talk different. We act different. We carry ourselves different. We conduct business a little bit different[ly] than people on the mainland do. We greet each other a little bit different. It is something that if you are from Hawaii you are very prideful to be from Hawaii. You might not be of Hawaiian descent but you hold this special place in your heart. You take that…pride that ‘I’m from Hawaii’. A lot of other places don’t have that national pride or state pride(however you want to say it).”
That culture and pride binds the people of Hawaii together and locals usually consider neighbors and friends family. “Over here in Hawaii everything is really about community. You hear that word get thrown around a lot, Ohana. Everybody’s family over here. The way we greet each other and treat each other is way different from say that East Coast. A lot of people internationally or from the mainland think that Hawaii people are soft…because of that Aloha Spirit we give. They take that as a weakness, they want to take advantage of it because we are so kind and so giving but Hawaii people are fierce, they are fighters, they have attitude and a type of pride that no other people have.”
Wanting to share their culture and aloha is almost a birthright for those born in Hawaii. That is something Max has done since his youth soccer days. “Aloha shirts (don’t call them Hawaiian shirts unless you want to sound like a complete haole) have been a huge staple since I was a little kid. When we would travel to ODP(Olympic Development Program) camp we had an official state aloha shirt that was our travel shirt that we all had to wear to dinner,…traveling, when we had meetings. We constantly had to wear [these] and then at the end of camp we’d trade [them]…to other campers. A lot of us would go to the [Honolulu] swap meet and get more aloha shirts to bring to camp and…[trade] them for shoes from other players that we didn’t have access to. Because here in Hawaii we only had a certain amount of soccer shoes. Our soccer shops…had limited amounts and limited styles of soccer shoes. So when we got to the mainland that was our chance to actually touch and feel certain…shoes. And we were able to…get them for cheaper than at stores because we were using our aloha shirts for bartering.”
More than just a material exchange football exposed Max to cultures and opportunities that might not have been available to him without it. “Playing soccer and going to mainland tournaments every summer, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas break…was the only way to get good competition and to get seen. It opened my eye up to the rest of the world. I was lucky enough, and fortunate enough to be able to travel and see the rest of the world and see that there’s more to the world than just Hawaii. A lot of people that grow up here aren’t as fortunate to be able to leave the Islands and see what there is in this…world.”
Something Max was blessed to learn at a young age is that the beautiful game is ubiquitous. It touches every corner of the globe. It provides connections between places and people seemingly worlds apart. Through Paradise Soccer Club Max has connected with likeminded people all over the globe including the Le Ballon in France and Liga Tóquio in Japan.
As a store owner and head of an amateur club he has not stopped sharing the aloha with customers and collaborators. “We recently did a project with the guys in Tokyo, Liga Tóquio…It’s huge for us being able to travel to Japan and to throw an event in Japan. [We did] a small-sided tournament with some companies that I’ve looked up to my whole life like atmos and mita sneakers. I never would have envisioned working with those types of companies, let alone being able to trade my PSC jersey with their team jersey and them getting more hyped on [receiving] my jersey than I was getting theirs.”
“Some of [those] people I meet in the industry become family because we work so closely and work so often together. We end up at each others’ weddings and each others’ kids’ birthday parties. That sense of ohana comes full circle. The world is so small, but the soccer community is even smaller.”
Max has more to offer the football world than just aloha. Paradise Soccer Club is truly a unique concept, shop, and brand. PSC blends the worlds of street and youth culture with the game of football in its own unique way and did it before everybody was on the lifestyle kit bandwagon. But Max has always been ahead of the curve when it came to style and trends.
“I was a big basketball player so I was always into shoes…Was a big AF1 collector, Nike SB collector…I was always into streetwear. I have family that is one of the pioneers here in Hawaii in streetwear. [My cousin] started one of the original streetwear companies here in Hawaii. He was a big influence…A lot of my friends and family were into it so I was just into it. My mom was real big into textiles…patterns and fabrics, she’s obsessed with [them] so it got me obsessed with it.
“I’ve always been obsessed with jersey designs and what jerseys look like. The [high] school [I] went to wasn’t air conditioned so Dri-Fit…was the way to go because it was nice and comfortable and cool. But at the same time I was the weird kid…that was wearing SBs or Air Force 1s with a matching soccer jersey with some type of weird sponsor on the front of a company that nobody knew of with a crest that nobody…had any idea…what is was…Back then it was just a polyester shirt and it looked cool and it matched my SBs…like…I was [even] matching Iversons with an Arsenal jersey.”
Max took that same forward-thinking attitude with him into Paradise Soccer Club. “For us Paradise Soccer Club is always a soccer shop. But your average soccer shop…isn’t cool, it isn’t fun. There’s no sense of pride in it. It’s just a standard cookie cutter style of shop. You know, you have your boots, your shinguards, [and] your balls. You have your Nike section, your adidas section, and a small section of PUMA, you have Umbro…but you don’t have the small independent football brands like [Paradise] or Nowhere or Guerrilla FC.”
“We wanted to be a soccer shop but we are also heavily influenced by surf and skate and streetwear so we wanted to be able to give our customers access to certain brands that they might not know about, that they might not have seen. We also wanted to bring in those streetwear brands and mix it in with the store…The soccer player is the most stylish…The soccer player around the world is the most fashion-forward. We wanted the shop to be a one central location for that soccer player to get everything he needs on and off the field. Whether it be a steezy outfit…his boots, we wanted him to be prideful and walk around and say, ‘hey this is my soccer shop, this is my soccer club. I’m part of it. This is where I get my gear from and this is where I get my everyday lifestyle type of clothing from, too.’ As far as being the first soccer shop to offer streetwear—brands like Undefeated, Stussy, Stance, RVCA…I don’t know if there are any other soccer shops around the world that have those accounts and those brands that support them and allow them to sell their product in their shops the way we’re allowed to.”
Creating a unique space and building relationships with brands and individuals in and out of soccer has provided Max and PSC with some enviable experiences. One of those particularly meaningful experiences happened when Paradise Soccer Club and OG Hawaii streetwear brand In4mation teamed up with us here at KTTP to bring Steve Nazar, the legendary artist behind Thrilla Gorilla, Joe Cool and the other iconic T&C Surf characters, back to Hawaii.
“Working with Steve Nazar and being able to bring him back to Hawaii. He hadn’t even been back to Hawaii for 20 something years because he was in some type of contractual dispute with his artwork…And he was just a huge influence on me being into art…and doodling. [I remember] playing his video game…and here in Hawaii T&C is…a staple. It’s an iconic logo and a brand that people around the world know about…It’s one of the original surf shops here in Hawaii. So working with him was something we didn’t even think would be possible but [then for] him to do custom acrylic paintings for us for the popup and doing custom jerseys with him and pins and a whole collection. People were super-hyped about that because they weren’t able to get any of his pieces for the last 20 something years.”
“We’re also fortunate to…work with big artists. We’ve done collaborations with Kevin Lyons, Aaron Kai, Defer, and Jasper through Pow! Wow! and through Kicks to the Pitch helping us link up with…OG Slick, people that are…huge in the graffiti and art scene and we’re just fortunate enough to use some of their artwork and present it to the rest of the soccer world in the form of a jersey. Some of the [fans] are jersey collectors some…are art collectors and they’re able to wear their favorite artists’ artwork and be [proud].”
But no matter how much recognition Max and PSC get, no matter how global their impact becomes, he remains rooted in his island home and his cultural heritage. He has even kept his tradition of bringing Hawaii to the places he visits.
“When we went to Japan they were our travel shirts and we also gave them to our hosts as omiyage or gifts. When you go to somebody else’s home you don’t come empty-handed—that’s very Hawaiian style—you need to come with…food, you need to come with drinks, you need to come with something. Don’t come empty-handed…So when we went up there we gifted the people that were hosting us, the Liga Tóquio guys, with our aloha shirts. They were so stoked and all of our team players gave away their team travel shirts and then came right back to the shop because they were bummed because they lost their travel shirts.”
Max is helping to make soccer cool in Hawaii while garnering attention from all over the world. A key to that impact is the authenticity with which he represents himself, his home and the sport that he loves. He continues to get inspiration from his surroundings which is reflected in what Paradise Soccer Club puts out into the world.
“Hawaii’s a very different market from the mainland, very different from the rest of the world. So there are certain trends that will always be popular here in the Islands…getting inspired by an aloha shirt and turning it into a jersey. Just being out…and walking around we can get inspired very easily—the ocean, gardens, flowers. So a lot of our designs, the flowers and…elements of our designs are [things that are] only found here in Hawaii. We have a shell design that is coming out that all the shells in the design…can only be found here in Hawaii. We also have another design [where]…each letter of ‘Paradise’ represents…an Islands’ flower. Each Island has its own flower and those make up the letters of ‘Paradise.’ So we try to bring Hawaii…and its culture…to the rest of the world.”
Drake Ramberg arrived in Germany in the early 1990s with the task of launching Nike’s soccer apparel almost from scratch. The studio was in the Nike Germany Offices located just outside of Frankfurt.
He was sent to Europe for a 2 year ex-pat assignment, and ended up building a Design team and designing multiple iconic Federation and Club kits before he left 6 years later.
“Not only did we start up the Design studio, but we had to have all the right equipment to prep each design for production. “I worked with Canon to get printers, I had to set up a dark room, I worked with AGFA to get film projectors and film processors, we had to do our own separations, nothing digital back then… I also was assigned to work on thekits for Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain’, and we also had Olympique Lyonnais at the time.”
Ramberg grew up in Oregon playing youth soccer and graduated with a degree in Fine Art from Portland State University. He started working with Nike in 1986 as a freelance graphic designer before computers were the dominant tools of the trade. After creating the iconic Flight logo and the Nike Premiere logo…he was assigned to spearhead Nike’s football apparel graphics team and to create the kits and apparel for some of Europe’s most iconic teams including Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique Lyon, PSV, Arsenal, and the Italian National Team. This was undoubtedly a daunting task for Nike and Drake who in the early 1990s were just getting started in the world of international football.
“Growing up in Portland in the 80s, our only exposure to European Soccer was, Soccer, Made In Germany, which was on public broadcasting on like…Saturday morning and I had no idea what the difference between Bayern Munich or Dortmund was. As a designer you are almost like an anthropologist. You gotta go deep. Deep into learning what these clubs are. And this [was] pre-internet, okay. So basically you [have] books, magazines. By moving over there I was able to be on the streets, and travel and go to these clubs and see their trophies, see their locker rooms, go out on the pitch and talk to players and talk to managers. And that’s in order to just to do your job right and even then you are just scratching the surface on figuring out their history and figuring out what a club like PSG or Arsenal would wear.”
The fabrics and climate of kit design in the early 1990s did lend itself to creative freedom. “I was working on soccer in the early 90s and we were creating what Nike Soccer looked like…There [were] no rules and it was just me and my team being creative and working to extend and bring to life the legacy of these clubs…try to be true to the spirit. It was kind of a graphic designer’s dream back then because you could just have fun there [were] no restrictions. It was all about sublimated graphics, the jacquards, it was really built for the fans.”
With that freedom, Drake Ramberg brought his own American sensibilities and background into his approach to designing some of the beautiful game’s most beloved shirts including the 1994-95 Borussia Dortmund kit and the 1995-96 Arsenal kit which happen to be the designer’s personal favorites.
“I always go back to Dortmund. That was one of the first clubs that I worked on…I just felt like I had a kinship with that club. We brought in the Volt Yellow and it was such a Nike point of view and they let us take them where we wanted to. There [weren’t] too many restrictions. The first few designs were just having some fun with Nike graphics and motion and blur and those kind of things. But I felt like in 94 when I brought in the wings sleeve graphic—that was inspired by their Dortmund city flag, it had an eagle on it. All over Germany there are a lot of eagle motifs. I decided to go away from the blurred look into…clean geometric shapes. Every time I see it I’m like wow that’s cool.”
“The second one was Arsenal. Again I didn’t know an Arsenal from a Man City back when I got over there but I had traveled to Highbury and met with George Graham and some of the players and got a full immersion into English football. You’re learning about a club and figuring out, ‘what’s a Gunner?’ It has a military kind of background but how do you bring that to life through graphics? So I landed on just a lightning bolt as a motif to use to represent the Gunners and Arsenal. So the first kit in 94 was more of a tonal matte/shine jacquard. But my favorite one was the 95 one where it became more of a half [and] half shirt and more of a strong bold lightning bolt.
“What I thought was fun was bringing to a lot of the work that I did, as an American designer coming over to Europe, a lot of the American sensibilities or things I grew up with…In American sports every team has a nickname. So I had it say The Gunners’ across the top of their crest and then it had Arsenal on the back tail. So it was…bringing their nickname in which I hadn’t ever seen—their mascot or nickname on a jersey. So I was bringing in American graphic design and sport motifs by pulling out like the ‘A’ from Arsenal [which] was kind of like an Old English ‘A’ that [was similar] to the Atlanta Braves ‘A’ or ‘NY’ Yankees. It was a cool single letter. As you are designing a collection you need other elements to play with otherwise it’s just a badge on every style and they have a whole training collection, a whole fanwear collection so we wanted other elements to extend that so having a lightning bolt to play with, the ‘A’ logo, the actual crest, the word ‘Gunners,’ the word ‘Arsenal,’ helped us build out a whole collection. So it’s not just…the same thing on every style.”
“It was definitely a collaboration with my Apparel Designers, as they created the silhouettes, selected fabrics and trim details. We worked hand-in-hand to create each of these designs. I focused on the graphics and they developed the styles.”
The creativity and imaginative art that embodied the kits of the early 90s is something that still resonates with fans today. “It does seem like there’s a lot of this generation that loves that era just because of the fun graphics.”
The thick polyester fabrication of the early 1990s gear was a great vehicle for sublimation, jacquards, and plastisol graphics did result in bold and memorable designs but not the highest performance athletic apparel. “Like [the] PSG ones were just coated in with heavy, screen printedsponsor logos, so it wasn’t high performance.”
Originally Ramberg went to Europe on what he thought was a two year assignment but he ended up staying for six. He was there for the shift from graphic-heavy kits to the starker, higher performance kits that came to dominate later in the decade. “But then in 96…we wanted to bring performance fabrics into football…we were like, ‘let’s bring in Dri-Fit, performance fabrications, there was mesh on the sides and everything. From that point forward…you could see, if you look back, not just with Nike but…in the industry it seemed like for about ten years it was really just like clean and simple and there was a major shift from graphics and jacquards and all that stuff into more like straight-up solid jerseys and letting the performance fabrics do the work…because of the price of the performance fabrics and the nature of the knit [and because] they didn’t take graphics very well.”
With the introduction of new technologies like VaporKnit artistic expression does not need to be sacrificed for performance. Graphics and design elements are woven into the fabrication of the apparel. In the last couple of years Nike has released kits with bold graphic choices that were celebrated by the public. Specifically the Nigeria Kit for the 2018 World Cup. The shirt sold out instantly and created a buzz that was akin to a coveted sneaker release.
“It’s been satisfying to see the Nigeria kit and some of the World Cup kits. I was with the guys when they were designing them and I brought in my old jerseys and they were referencing them and it’s…fun to see…the spirit of Nike Soccer from the 90s [brought] into…2018.”
“There was a little bit of paying an homage to that 94 [Nigeria] jersey but bringing to the modern day. But I loved seeing it. It was great, not only the jersey but the whole collection around it was just really smart and really innovative…Having some fun with football and bringing it to what the fans are into.”
The fans are still into what Drake Ramberg did over two decades ago. “Another thing that’s crazy with social media…(follow OG Drake on the Gram @dramberg) is that back in the 90s I felt like I was working in a vacuum over in Europe…but now when I look at all the work that I did, not only in soccer but in basketball, and all these fans reach out now and ask, ‘did you do this?’ and they want to know all the details and stories behind the kits. It’s heartwarming, some of the conversations I’ve had. And it is exciting to have had a role in inspiring the Design team as they continue to create the future of football kits.”
Drake Ramberg still works at Nike. Coming full circle, he helped as the Ops Director for Global Football when Nike moved the global football team he started in Europe back to Beaverton, Oregon a few years back. On any given day could be found mentoring young artists at the Blue Ribbon Studio on Nike’s campus.
As the epicenter of world sport, soccer has an impact on globalization incomparable to anything else. By constantly spearheading the latest in design and fashion, soccer is able to shape the literal fabric of communities from Los Angeles to Lagos. But you already knew that. Much of this innovation, however, doesn’t just spur up in the design labs of the major sportswear labels, but is rather influenced by the communities formed on humble pitches around the world. As a leader in global manufacturing, Avery Dennison is one such giant that is embracing grass root movements in both elevating the visual aesthetic seen across soccer, along with minimizing the damage done to the environment. KTTP founder Curtis Brown hopped on a call with Nikita Jayasuriya, Avery Dennison’s Global Director, Head of Team Sports to discuss the corporations involvement with the beautiful game.
A little background on who you are, how you got into this position and your relationship with football?
My name is Nikita Jayasuriya, my position at Avery Dennison is Global Director, Head of Team Sports. So i’m in charge of growing the business with team sports. Dealing with the clubs, big brands, the league, but not just football. Also rugby, cricket, baseball, basketball. There’s a strong focus on football, being one of the biggest markets.
I studied at Chelsea College of Arts and I originally started up the creative studio within Avery Dennison where we would brought in the best creatives from around Europe and offered creative services to all the brands we worked with. I inherited this fictional Avery Dennison brand called “Uniti”, and when we would go into any of the big brands we work with, We can’t show them product that we’ve done for another brand, so we would have to show them the fictional Uniti brand to show them the different types of products and techniques we can do. It just didn’t resonate using Uniti when dealing with the big sportswear labels, so we started to collaborate with real brands and small brands which we call halo brands to show real product in the market. From there we started doing activation and started building this network within football culture, the most popular one being in Paris with Le Ballon, the Soho Warriors FC in England and the Avery Denison Toffee League in Portland. These vents attracted all the influencers and design directors from Portland, UK and Germany for example to be involved, and from that it made an obvious step for me to developing the business for team sport.
What are some of the key football projects in and around the states that you work with and how do you feel that this group of creatives have left an impact on the game with the things you’ve created together?
Looking at Le Ballon for example, they started a five side football league in Paris — one being from Colette, other ones with designers from different brands — I just feel like what they’re bringing to the designs of the their individual football kits, to the passion they bring to the pitch to the way they share within Instagram is bringing that whole subculture of football to the forefront and it is influencing the big brands as well.
You know after doing the collaborations with the big brands we’ve done, I mean they’ve already semi-worked with the big brands already but they started working with the big brands in a more in-depth way. It definitely great for the brands we work with. We go into it with examples and show them these young creatives that we’re dealing with and they spot them on instagram and figure out how to collaborate with them. That’s the key thing with these younger brands, they can put out a certain product in their shop within two weeks as opposed to two years with the bigger brands.
What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on so far?
One of my favorite on-going ones is the Avery Dennison Toffee League because it’s in the heart of Portland. Also involved with the pub and everyone loves drinking. Again, it’s tapping into the creative industry — it’s got the Ace Hotel, Industry PDX (Nike’s creative agency), Soccerbible, to name a few. Very important brands in the industry involved in that league and they’re all super actively involved in by inventing new ways to push it forward. It’s got a real sense of community there as well being in Portland. For me, that’s the most rewarding thing cause it really makes an impact seeing the passion behind it all.
Are there any other projects you’ve done in the past that stands out to you? The project you did in the last European Cup resonates with me. Can you talk about that process.
The one in Paris was when the Euro Cup was going on, so all the brands came out to watch the match over that month period. So if they were there to see a match for two to three days, they would have to check out the city and do some research about the Le Ballon events because it was one of the real sub-culture events going on I feel at the time. From there we did the collaboration with you and Kevin Lyons, and you brought in PSG and the French federation to do customization with Kevin Lyons. Then PUMA came in to takeover for their EVO booth, then NIKE creative team customizing jerseys, then KITH as well. So it was the perfect event to bring together all the creatives from around the world to watch a match. How did you feel about it?
I mean I thought it was great. It brought together a lot people who aren’t familiar with the sport and brought those differing views on the sport which is what’s so cool about it.
Yeah and we were going to that for Russia as well but the venue called out last minute.
Since Avery Dennison is known to do patches or crests a lot of the time, what are favorite patches you’ve helped create?
This is a tricky one, but one of the interesting ones that is coming to life for us on June 1st 2019 is the new Premier League sleeve badge. I love the new Premier League branding with the lion being so universal and I believe can carry as a stand alone brand, if the Premier League goes that route. For example, there are just NBA and NFL products regardless of team and they stand for the brand in itself and I think the Premier League has the full potential to do that as well.
I think the badge that we’re doing for them is going to have a gold shimmer and is going to have a digital watermark which can be scanned/read by the Premier League app. So when you scan it, that content could vary on where you are located in the world. So you could get a completely different reading if you scan it in the U.S. or at home, to if you scan it, say at Old Trafford. That’s going to be really interesting, by bringing this digital product to the digital era. Also we are putting this scan-able digital watermark into every name and number on the backs of the jerseys which will set it apart from anything that’s been done before.
If you have one favorite patch or crest from football history, what crest is at and what makes it stand out to you?
I’m bias because I’m English, but I’d say England’s crest mainly due to the fact that the three lions goes back way way back before football was even a concept. It went back to flags of Richard the Lionheart going through Europe, I’d have to check my facts. But for me, it goes back a long way and that’s real heritage. You know, we don’t go to war anymore with flags waving about, and they are (footballers) are last sort of warriors out there fighting the cause for us in our name. Not that they’ve done a good I guess since 1966.
If you can work with any artist and create a kit or badge, who would it be and why?
KAWS or Kevin Lyons would be awesome.
KAWS and football would be fun because it’s never been done.
But now that you mention it, if you look at the Jordan x PSG interaction and you talk about KAWS and all the basketball collaborations he’s done and then insert him into football. It would be interested in switching it all up by taking someone who isn’t necessarily involved in the game. Like the Jordan x PSG collaboration is like complete opposites. It shouldn’t make sense, but it makes sense, but it doesn’t make sense. That’s the thing about football, it’s all in context, it takes everyone on. Like imagine taking Salvador Dali and putting him in football, that would be pretty trippy.
What about Shephard Fairey?
I do like Shephard Fairey but I do feel like he was KAWS like eight to ten years ago.
I guess it depends on who you’re talking to. If it’s a young kid, then KAWS would have more hype behind it but if your’e talking to someone more into the art scene, then Shephard Fairey is a pioneer and legend in the street art scene.
We did do one with Andre, the French artist, when we had the pop-up in New York which was quite cool. Maybe another one with him would be fun. But KAWS would be fun, but when something becomes so popular, it isn’t as niche and it’s about finding that new niche.
What about Avery as a company, outside of football. Avery is known for labels and brands but what else does Avery do in sport to connect the culture?
We support grass roots which is super important as well as being involved with the biggest leagues like the Premier League. I honestly believe that we’ve helped grow the culture up a little bit — from Le Ballon, Soho Warriors to the Toffee League, to SHUKYU Magazine. We are definitely part of the culture now and everyone within it knows who Avery Dennison is but no know us more than the average person in the public.
The products that we would give to these halo brands like Le Ballon are the same type of product we would give to the biggest clubs on the planet. Smaller brands wouldn’t really be able to get these type of products by going to anyone else. Just not really feasible. So we’re supporting these smaller clubs with products that the best brands in the world play with and make them feel special, as opposed to a screen print on a t-shirt.
Working with Neal Heard, what does that do to blow the game up or make it better. For example, jersey culture is a sort of gateway for some people to get into the sport and you guys are doing that on a daily basis. From your point of view, coming from Europe, does jersey culture impact lifestyle culture as much as it does in America?
Yeah I definitely think it does. Working with Neal Heard and his huge collection of vintage jerseys and knowledge is immense. With us and the big brands working with him, it shows that this whole cycle of the vintage jerseys coming back in. The whole crossover of jersey culture and sneaker culture which Neal talks about himself. When you look at the Nigeria kit for example and how quickly it sold out just shows you that not all those people were buying it to support Nigeria but were rather just buying a sick jersey. Also the influencers were all backing it and all the hypebeasts wanted it. But it’s a great thing for the game and theres a big market for it. Not a lot of the small, medium and even bigger clubs get this whole street culture of lifestyle fashion football. So you’re touching it with this whole Soccercon or Footballcon. Your brand Kicks to the Pitch starting with sneakers and now it’s talking about tops and jerseys.
Yeah, I started because I love sneakers and I felt that sneaker culture needed to touch the space of football culture and how people would be wearing sneakers in the game. So it was literally Kicks to the Pitch.
Are you just going to keep it as that or are you going to spin it a different way like kicking a football?
The thing about Kicks to the Pitch, no one really calls it by its full name. Everyone just says KTTP. When I think of kicks, I think of things you enjoy. I think the play on words is there already and I think the core people we are trying to speak to are sneakerheads and if you think about it, people who are sneakerheads became art fans, hip-hop fans, and sport fans. So you can have anyone — old man to a young girl to a supermodel to a low-income family — they all love sneakers and the culture. From there, they fall in love with whatever sneaker culture brings to them, whether it’s music or art or fashion.