AVERY DENNISON, ONE PATCH AT A TIME: WITH NIKITA JAYASURIYA

 

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. 

THE MAN BEHIND THE CR7 MUSEUM: NUNO MENDES

Recently on a trip to Portugal, I made sure to visit the island of Madeira, known by all football fans as the birthplace of one Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. I couldn’t visit the Portuguese GOAT’s homeland without making a stop at the CR7 Museum. The museum is a glorified trophy room. I say that as no slight. It is definitely one of the most impressive trophy rooms on the planet. It is a monument to one of the biggest personalities on the globe whose talent is even bigger as evidenced by the amount of hardware display in the Funchal museum.

Professionally Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards, several FIFA Player of the Year awards, and 26 team trophies including five league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues Cups, and a European Championship. 

While there I took some time to visit with Nuno Mendes, curator of the CR7 Museum. Peep the convo below:

Tell us about your background

So, I started this work because I know Ronaldo’s brother. For a while, I used to teach him some English classes. So after he invited [me] to be part of this project. 

What is your role at the museum?

I’m the curator of the museum so I’m…responsible [for] the emails, and of course if any visitor needs a special tour guide, I can do that.

So you are the curator and in charge of the day-to-day at the museum?

That’s right.

What is Ronaldo’s brother’s name and his role at the museum?

Ronaldo’s [brother’s] name is Hugo Aveiro and he’s the director of the museum.

When did the museum open? 

We{’ve been] open for almost five years. The day of the opening was the 17th of December 2013. We just moved to this new space two years ago, we were in another space but now we are better located here in the Downtown [area].

Were you here for the grand opening?

Yes, I [was] here since the opening day, almost five years.

Who founded the museum?

The museum was founded by Mr. Hugo Aveiro, Ronaldo’s brother. Actually, it was his idea to create the museum. It’s a family business.

Give us a little of the history of the museum.

So it’s curious, this idea, it occurred maybe eight years ago. Ronaldo’s brother, he used to go to Ronaldo’s home and one day they were in the living room and Hugo…suggested to Ronaldo to open a museum because he saw so many trophies—spreading all over the living room and…Ronaldo says, “yes it’s a good idea” and Ronaldo’s brother said, “We can open it in your home [Madeira] and it will be a good attraction and at the same time it’s a business for the family.” So after some years, they planned, [found] the space and it all began almost five years ago.

Where was it originally located?

It was…on Princesa Dona Amelia street, not far from here, but it was a secondary road, not so big [of] a place. So after two years, we decided to move to the main avenue…Funchal. And this is a better place, now we are satisfied with the actual place. 

What would you say the purpose of this museum is?

To show to Ronaldo’s fans everything that he has won, since that first trophy that we have here until the last one. It’s an opportunity [for] the visitors to see, [right] in front of them the real [trophies] because we have here original ones and copies. For football fans, it’s crazy to be here and see what he has won. At the same time it’s a good promotion for the island because on Madeira island, we have so many visitors and for them, it’s crazy for them to be here and see Ronaldo’s achievements. 

How involved is Cristiano is this museum

His brother is the manager and of course, Ronaldo is also his partner and it’s totally private[ly owned], the government is not involved. So it’s a family business…it’s a private museum.

How often does Cristiano come here?

Not very often, but at least once a year he comes here, normally Christmas season. And of course, when he comes it’s a pleasure…for the employees…to be with him, and even for Ronaldo, we can see…in his face when he is here looking at his trophies, he is very proud of them.

How many employees here at the museum?

7 (8 including his brother)

What is the most prized possession here at the museum for you, personally?

Personally…without any doubt is the European Cup because for the first time in Portuguese history we won that award and according to Ronaldo that’s the one that he really loves and was most important. Of course, the Golden Balls have a special meaning because we are talking about the best football player in the world. And the first (trophy) that Ronaldo won for me and for most of the visitors has a special meaning because it’s the first one that he got when he was just eight years old.

What are the favorites of the visitors that come to the museum?

They love to be here. (Visitors) say the museum is well organized. So the Golden Balls and the lux statues are the favorite things (the guests) take pictures (with).

Talk about the creative process, direction, and design behind the space.

talking about the art, we have some paintings here that were donated by the artists. Paintings of Ronaldo playing football. We have a multimedia system (where) you can watch his best moments—videos, photos about his career. And we have something interesting (where visitors) can take a photo, a virtual one, that afterward, we can print—a photo of you next to Ronaldo…It’s like you are standing next to Ronaldo, and it’s very cool. We also have another multimedia system in which you can take a picture holding the trophies—the Golden Balls, the Euro Cup and you can print it also.

About the design. it was an architecture firm…that with Ronaldo designed this, but the floor Ronaldo wanted (it) to be…a traditional Portuguese floor.  In Portugal, we have these small…tiles…and the visitors are impressed because (the floor) was (made) one by one by hand. 

Who funds the museum?

No one…this building belongs to the government so…we have to pay rent but we don’t have any funds, we don’t have any sponsors. It’s all private. It’s a family business. We just rent this space…Even the money we receive, Ronaldo doesn’t keep any…Some people think he’s so rich and he gets even more money, but that’s not true…the money goes to pay the taxes, the expenses, the employees and a part goes to charities (in) Madeira, local charitable associations and we donate to people in need. 

What are the future plans for the museum?

That’s a good question. Even…after he finishes his career…we hope to be successful as (we have been up) until now. I think after he finishes his career we will reorganize all the trophies…But the future plans are just to continue (what we) are doing now. What I mean is that it’s been successful (with) many visitors and we hope to stay like that.

Why should people visit the CR7 Museu?

First of all, for football fans, this is a great place, to be here…it’s not every day that you have the chance to see the real trophies in front of you, especially the Golden Balls…The museum offers a unique experience…you can see the real trophies (right) in front of you, the most important trophies…And no (other player) in the world has a football museum. (You) have Pelé in Brazil but it’s nothing compared to this museum…You can see everything that one of the biggest players in the world has achieved so far.

THE KFA TAKES A STYLED APPROACH TO THE WORLD CUP 2018

Although the on pitch play of the Korean National Football team has been lackluster at best, the team came correct off pitch for this years World Cup in Russia. Partnering up with design firm H9PITCH STUDIO, the KFA created a special collection of items that appeal to the world that lives outside of the game. From limited edition patches, skate decks, rings, air fresheners, bluetooth speakers, and bracelets the collection has something for everyone. Not until recent has repping your national team crest been looked at as stylish, but with the younger generation of fans emerging, the clubs and countries must keep up with the popular sense of style. The best part of this entire collection is the federation did it all private label. Avoiding the headache and red tape of the “big brand” the KFA was able to lean on a design group directly connected to the streets of Korea, in turn creating a collection that sends a message to the streets.

The inspiration behind the product stems from an ever growing need for “cool” in the soccer space. With so many small pop up brands entering the market, it seems only fitting that the big clubs and countries start to grasp the new wave of soccer. No longer is soccer tiro pants with the track jacket, or the mom in the mini van, as the key teams begin to take notice of the off pitch style, the growth of the sport will accelerate beyond anything can imagine. Tapping into the movement of the urban community will allow so many more people to be aware of how beautiful the game genuinely is. A gate way to the gam through the world of style.

When it comes to being first, Korea was not the first ones to do this, back in 2014 the USMNT teamed up with the likes of legendary artist Futura, Kayo skate, and Nike to create a players only collection and PSG created a full collection of product for its US Tours in both LA 2016 and Miami 2017,  but what Korea did do was break the mold for a federation and open this open to the masses. Allowing the fans of the national team to rep the country with pride and style is one thing, but when the fans of other countries are supporting, you know you have done something correct.

In my opinion, the collection is well rounded, creative and a step in the right direction. Hopefully sooner then later the powers that be inside the clubs and federations will take note. Until then you get one option. You can pick up the full KFA collection now at H9Pitch.

Peep the full collection below.

 

THE KTTP WORLD CUP WEEK 1 RETROSPECTIVE

Before I start my World Cup week 1 retrospective, I want to thank US Soccer, adidas Football, Fan Duel, and World Soccer Shop for giving KTTP the opportunity to tell its unique perspective on this year’s World Cup in Moscow. The effort of our family at US Soccer is what really kicked this entire opportunity off, and I would be foolish to not give credit to a group of people who took the risk of allowing such a hyper-focused outlet to represent the USA out here in Russia.

Arriving in the country, it was a bit surreal. From media propaganda to the political agendas surrounding the US and Russia relations, my thoughts on the trip to Russia was always one of skepticism. If it wasn’t for soccer, my want to go to Russian was a 0 from a 1-to-100 scale. Jumping on the flight outta LAX, the fact I was heading back to my third World Cup hadn’t hit me yet. Again, the anxiety of Russia was more on my mind than soccer. How would I get around? Was the apartment going to be as pictured? I got my visa, but would it be a struggle to get into the country itself? So many things had run through my head that soccer was the last thing on my mind.

That being said, flying 15 hours with two layovers was possibly the only thing negative I have to say about the trip up to this point. Upon landing in Moscow, the fact that I was here for arguably the biggest sporting event in the world finally hit me. World Cup 2018 had finally arrived. After almost 4 years of KTTP, the World Cup was not just about going to see matches, it was about sharing this beautiful game to the people who will be the future of the sport – through the eyes of culture. Where the casual fan meets the hardcore. A place where Sneakerheads, The Hip Hop community, Artist, and Designers can join in the conversation of the world’s game.

The first week of the World Cup has been no less than amazing off- and for sure on-pitch. Starting out with the Portugal versus Spain match in Sochi, Rich and I had the opportunity to view the game from two very different perspectives. I’m not going to bore you with the details as I am pretty sure you witnessed the greatness that is CR7, but to feel the power and the passion of the fans at that match was on a whole new level. The rivalry that is Portugal versus Spain never seems to disappoint, and on the night of June 15th 2018, it felt like two heavyweight boxers trading haymakers, each one landing at a precise moment but never falling. Diego Costa was a killer that night, along with Nacho and his Golaso, but leave it to Ronaldo to shine, and that he did.

After the trip to Sochi, we worked our way back to HQ in Moscow and prepared for a few days of back-to-back matches. Starting with the Germany versus Mexico match on June 16th. Before I go on, I must say this was the loudest I have ever heard a stadium before. The noise of the crowd was literally deafening. The Mexico fans completely outmatched Germany’s, and the game results seemed to mirror that same situation. Watching Mexico score the lone goal on arguably the best team in the world was a sight to be seen. I don’t know what team besides Mexico that has a fan base willing to pay $15 to $20 USD for a beer and then within seconds throw it up in the air for the love of the country. It’s absolutely mad!!! So when the ball crossed the goal line, the German fans in Moscow where introduced to the special tradition. It showered beer for a good 30 seconds in the area I was sitting in, and the power of the Mexico fanbase never seemed to die. After being a witness to CR7 and his late-game masterpiece, and following that with a massive win by Mexico, I couldn’t help but look forward to what was coming.

On Monday the 18th we had a day off – sorta – where I took advantage of the Nike Football space located in Gorky Park. The new Nike space opened up a day before I arrived with a large crowd and special guest, Ronaldo Lima. The space was a well-designed sports facility with a dedicated half-basketball court, a small sided caged soccer space, and an indoor activation center. Nike spared no expense during the World Cup and created a design studio inside dubbed the NIKE BOX MSK. The studio was on another level. From jerseys, numbers, patches and more, the workshop is set up for pure creativity. Custom cut and sew stations facilitate almost anything you can create made out of a Nike kit top. Working with our Nike help, I secured a spot to produce a special 1-of-1 KTTP kit top. Given the time frame of 2 hours, plenty can be accomplished, and if you are in Moscow and have the time, I highly recommend this experience.

Leading into Tuesday the 19th, I was anticipating getting to check out Spartak stadium, where Poland would face of with Senegal. I had made my way to the stadium earlier in the week to try and get a media ticket to the Argentina versus Iceland match, and was able to get into the tunnel to witness Messi have his PK saved. What a disappointment for Messi, but that’s another topic for another day. Not knowing what I know now, and since I didn’t get to check out the full stadium beforehand, I was more excited to get check out the architectural feat over watching the match, but as you all know, the match turned out to be just as special as the first couple that I had highlighted. As we all are fans of the sport, underdogs always seem to capture the world’s attention. Senegal, with names that most casual fans are not familiar with, faced off against Poland featuring captain and world-class striker Robert Lewandowski. Packed to the max, Spartak stadium was solid in red. Poland came out to represent and they made it known. Not quite at the level of what Mexico had going, Poland still had the stadium super live for the full 90 mins. The Senegal support was few and far between, but I did notice the fans from Senegal were turned up in the little masses that came to support. The match was epic and at the final whistle, the stadium was filled with a special feeling that this World Cup had something amazing happening. This match marked the first African nation win at this year’s World Cup, and as Senegal looks to continue forward, I would suggest keeping an eye on them. Cinderella runs are always amazing to witness.

All this leads me to Wednesday the 20th, attending the Portugal versus Morocco match at Luzhniki Stadium. Portugal is my team this World Cup. If the US had made it then things would be different, but for my entire life, Portugal has been a very close second to the US. Getting to watch them play twice in a 7-day time span was something else for me personally. My father’s side of the family comes from the Azores off the mainland of Portugal, and as much as I want to claim my roots, I just don’t know much about them. Being able to follow a team from a country where my ancestors come from allows me to feel a bit closer to my heritage. It also helps that Cristiano is on a record-breaking pace this World Cup. To that note, CR7 did not disappoint. Putting his 4th goal in with a crazy diving header, the stadium erupted. Packed with what was announced at 78,000 people in attendance, it felt as though the Morocco support outnumbered the Portuguese. Donning the same national colors for both teams, it was hard to tell which support group represented who until a crazy foul had happened or a missed foul occurred. The game, in all honesty, was very ugly and boring, to say the least. After the wild header, Portugal played very uninspiredly, and all they looked to do was pass to Cristiano – no creative play whatsoever. Move to the other side of the ball and you have a team with no striker that had countless opportunities but just couldn’t find that finishing touch. This all played out into an ugly match, but Portugal walked away with 3 points so I was happy.

Capping off a crazy ass week was the opportunity to work with World Soccer Shop for the duration of the World Cup. As “Content Creators,” KTTP has been able to gain field access and stadium access unlike most. I have been able to access areas and see things that a normal fan will never be able to see. It brings out a different feeling being able to be on the inside of the game at the pinnacle of the sporting world’s biggest global event.  Standing in the mixed media zone after the Portugal versus Spain match, I got to watch De Gea a foot away from me, talk about how he made massive mistakes. Pique was within 3 feet of me explaining his thoughts on the draw, Ronaldo briskly walked past my space with a little nod. As much as I can try to explain this in words, nothing can compare to my reality this last week. If anything that I have said sparks your interest, make sure to stay tuned to the website as we will be updating a daily journal for the second half of our trip, follow our IG @kickstothepitch as well, and shoot over to IG handle @wrldsoccershop to get a behind-the-scenes look, as well as our journey through the 2018 World Cup Russia.