For the premiere of Shirts and Skins we sit down with Deandre Yedlin of the US Men’s National Team and the Premier League’s Newcastle United. DeAndre takes us through his tattoo journey from his first tattoo to the one he regrets the most and caps it off with giving us his three favorite pieces. We explore the inspiration and the stories behind the art. Check out the episode and photoset below.
The corporate box is typically reserved for an exclusive set of people and more often than not, retains a stuffy feel that never accurately captures the essence of the club or its fans. Arsenal, PUMA, and ad agency GBH London set out to flip what we have come to expect from a corporate suite and inject a fresh and modern outlook on what the corporate box experience is all about.
Set inside The Emirates, the Puma Non-Corporate Box takes elements from the club’s history and key details that have a deep connection to the club to bring more of a terrace feel to the space.
According to Mark Bonner from GBH London, “PUMA were given two executive boxes at The Emirates and Arsenal were open to disrupting the hospitality experience at the stadium. The whole Non-Corporate Box where fan culture and the terrace experience from both Highbury and The Emirates would be celebrated up there.”
A tremendous amount of thought went into making the PUMA Non-Corporate Box a once in a lifetime fan encounter. “We wanted to make sure that Arsenal fans got to experience the box as well. We had a contest called ‘The A-List’ that gave Arsenal fans the opportunity to win tickets to the Non-Corporate Box.”
The box is plush with details and historical context that celebrates the history and legacy of the North London club. There are steel and concrete seating that pay tribute to the old terraces. Famous chants adorn the walls. A lighting layout that takes inspiration from Herbert Chapman’s famous “WM” formation. There’s even a nod to the Highbury squirrel who made its debut against Villarreal in 2016. Probably my favorite element is a foosball table that features two Arsenal teams—a classic Arsenal XI decked out in yellow kits vs the current Arsenal XI that are sporting the classic red kits.
In talking to Mark about the idea and execution of this box, we spoke about the need for modern day football to have modern day ideas. To flip what has been done before and give it a contemporary refresh that better engages with fans, players, and the sport itself.
This season marks the end of the Arsenal/PUMA deal and with it the end of the PUMA Non-Corporate Box. As with anything good that must come to an end, there is a legacy that lives on with this. With the PUMA Non-Corporate Box, Arsenal, PUMA, and GBH London brought in a new perspective, heightened the experience of any fan that has been able to experience the box, and ultimately brought a fresh and genuine outlook to the sport itself. Hopefully, part of the legacy of the box and what was created inspires future ideas about how to reimagine and refresh our experiences with the game.
We had the enviable opportunity to peruse the colors and crests on the racks of the Classic Football Shirts warehouse. Nestled in the shadows of Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, the aisles upon aisles of shirts and gear worn on the hallowed football pitches all over the world spark vivid memories tied to these historic pieces.
Each strip from the classic patterns down to the blood stains bring to mind moments cherished by footy fanatics far and wide. Moments that evoke a simpler time before every football fan had virtually every match from every corner of the globe streaming in their hands.
For Gary Bierton, preserving the moments and history before cell phones filled the stands, has been the mission for the passion project that first began in 2006 with the inception of Classic Football Shirts, founded by his older brother, Doug and friend Matthew Dale.
“It takes you back instantly, you know,” recounts Bierton as he sits in a warehouse with over twenty thousand kits ranging from the most loved to the most loathed, from well-known to the most unknown clubs around the world. “I’m looking at that France ’98 shirt. I can remember where I was when I watched the World Cup final in ’98. It puts you back in the room instantly.”
With Classic Football Shirts, Gary has been instrumental in buying, documenting, and providing the biggest collection of football shirts online in the world for fans and teams alike.
Looking for the 1999 kit worn by the treble-winning Manchester United squad? Take your pick: David Beckham. Paul Scholes. Roy Keane. It’s all there on their website.
The digital gatekeeper of football relics began in student housing his brother Doug and his partner, Matt, finished university studies in Manchester. More so a clubhouse with a few rails carrying product for passers-by, with the first pop-up shop happening in 2018.
Not long after starting Doug and Matt got things started, Gary found himself working holidays cataloging shirts as he followed his own path at the Manchester Business School.
“I don’t think any of us expected to be here in 2019,” laughs Bierton as he recalls moments from the store’s infancy.
As the de-facto leader of marketing and brand growth, he has leveraged the collection into pop-up stores across the UK and exhibitions showcasing kits from brands such as Nike, adidas, Umbro and Kappa.
Classic Football Shirts created their first exhibits under the brand ‘Fabric of Football’. The cataloging the shirts online had already started years before and the catalog just kept growing.
Around the same time the team at Classic Football Shirts was expanding their online presence they got ready to dive into retail pop-ups.
Bierton’s mother raised concerns about the uncertainty of a career choice as a glorified second-hand merchant. Friends too wondered about the sustainability of the idea and where this side project would take them next.
Bierton continued to see the growth even those around him questioned the career choice. The doubters turned into believers when they saw the hundreds of people clamoring to get a chance to purchase a shirt at a London pop-up.
“A lot of my friends live in London and they come to see what you’re doing. Then they’re like, ‘Why are people queuing down the street to look at this stuff,’”
His friends might have been slow to catch his vision but it did not take long for them to realize the influence Classic Football Shirts has on the culture.
The impact of companies like Bierton’s has been far-reaching. Today tastemakers and fashion-centric individuals outside of the game and culture are choosing to rock classic football kits with growing frequency. Players have cross-pollinated their influence into different avenues. Seeing Drake or Kylie Jenner showoff their favorite football shirts on the ‘Gram is commonplace.
Brands like adidas and Nike have geared their campaigns and collections to fuse fashion with sports as a way to be more inclusive of the audience they are marketing to.
From the avid fan to the casual enthusiast of the game entrenched in everything fashion, leveraging the influence of designer juggernauts such as Virgil Abloh and Gosha Rubchinksiy has blurred the lines of ready-to-wear runway designs for the pitch.
That wasn’t always the case. Bierton recalls the moment that his type of inventory transcended the hardcore football fans. “Not until maybe 2013, 2014 did it become a fashionable thing,” he says. “The moment we realized it had gone a little beyond from what we thought, was a post with Kendall Jenner wearing a Juve ’98 Kappa jacket.”
Celebrity influence has turned shirts that might otherwise be forgettable into hype-fueled items. The aforementioned Italian club Juventus donned rose pink Adidas kits for the 2015-2016 campaign. As soon as Drake and Snoop Dogg were captured wearing the shirts across social media, fans pillaged retailers to ride the trend.
But for Bierton, the affinity and passion for shirts will never fade. Beyond the trends and influence driven by the who’s who of music and design, he knows there’s someone looking for that vintage kit from his beloved Manchester United or the local Macclesfield Town football club shirt.
Regardless of the buyer, he’s thankful to play a part in connecting with fans and new aficionados.“It’s bigger than football. And we’ve come from the perspective as football fans, but then it becomes more than that. You can keep it quite rigid or open up to anybody.”
For this episode of KTTP Presents | Unboxing we take a look at the adidas Predator archive pack. We have some guest hosts on this episode all the way from the UK. Kish Kash and Neesh linked up in London to hold it down for KTTP. They look at the pack created to commemorate 25 years of Predator. The pack includes a remake of both the Predator Precision worn by David Beckham and the Predator Accelerator, worn by Zinedine Zidane. Both boots are reimagined in colorways matching the personalities and careers of the football greats that made history and so many memorable moments in the silo.
For this edition of Kit Stories, we sit down with Rich Gordon, the creative director of Kicks to the Pitch. Rich takes us on his soccer fandom journey, starting as a first generation Jamaican American growing up in South Florida. We learn how his love and passion for the game as well as kits blossomed in 1998, and how certain kits really represent who he is today. From the Jamaica ’98 World Cup Kappa kit, to the O2 Arsenal Invincibles kit to a throwback Arsenal kit from 97′; all these kits play a part in Rich’s Kit Story.
On this episode of Unboxing we take a closer look at the women’s specific versions of the Copa 19.1 and the Predator 19.1 from adidas. These versions of adidas’s staple silos are made in women’s sizing and colorways reserved for the women’s pack. Thanks to World Soccer Shop and be sure to head over to WSS to pick up your pair.
Three lions, four birds, and a cross of the knights templar walk into a World Cup… The origins of global soccer crests is a tangled mess of lions, tigers, eagles and rosaries — as complex and intertwined as the beautiful game itself. Now that we’ve passed the knockout stages, here are a few of the best origin stories behind the sigils of our World Cup favorites.
JAPAN (The three-legged crow)
Japanese design culture has always a boasted a beauty rooted in being painstakingly well-considered. The nation’s soccer kits for their beloved “Samurai Blue” are no different. The JFA crest prominently depicts the Yatagarasu – the three-legged crow – who in Asian myth serves as a kind of avatar for divine intervention or a messenger from the gods. Under the crow’s front-most talon is, of course, the rising sun, emblematic of modern Japan. To this day, the winners of the “Emperor’s cup,” Japan’s oldest domestic trophy, are awarded a Yatagarasu emblem on their kit as a reward, further conflating Japanese monarchy with the divine.
MEXICO (El Tri)
El Tri’s current crest has been in rotation since ‘94 and shares the same eagle as the Mexican flag. But instead of the eagle perched on a cactus, it is instead rocking atop The Aztec calendar. That nod to the ancient Aztecs weaves a rich tapestry of Mexico’s indigenous iconography into the Passion and Orgullo (pride) of their soccer history.
Sometimes a simple pun, perhaps even a homonym, can stir up a symbol to last over 100 years. For many scholars, the fact that the Latin root for the region of Gaul (Gallus) was identical to the Latin word for the rooster (Gallus) served as a genuine LOL moment for the people of the Middle Ages. Oh, how these people would laugh at the pleasant coincidence while associating the Gauls with the attributes of a rooster: stubbornness and brazenness. Joke’s on them, the French would run with it and since 1909 Fédération Française de Football would march out onto the field of play with the proud rooster emblazoned over their heart. From Zizou and Thuram to Pogba and Griezmann, Les Bleus unleash the rooster’s crow of French culture and sport in 90-minute intervals.
The iconic yellow and green adorned with its five World Cup victory stars are as iconic a brand as any in sporting culture. Yet, because of how vibrant and decadent the crest is, the cross anchoring it all often hides in plain sight. A second look will begin to avail the similarities of the crest shape and cross to that of Portugal, as the cross in the middle is a nod to the Portuguese Templar Knights in the Order of Christ’s Cross who uncovered a large portion of South America for Europe. The crest as a whole serves as a reminder that while the language of the nation may be rooted in Europe, the flair and joy is something uniquely made up of Brazil.
ENGLAND (Three Lions)
Ahhh, the originators of heraldry. Masters of lore and Knighthood, the English FA and the three lions have receipts going back as far as anyone when it comes to the genesis of the crest in culture. While the Three Lions are a living homage to the different iterations of King Richard the 1st’s coat of arms, the 10 Tudor roses scattered symmetrically across the shield represent the 10 regional branches of the FA. On a stage crowded by large felines, the English may just have the most iconic rendition.
RUSSIA (Double-headed Eagle)
From our lovely tournament host comes some of the most brazenly gangster symbols in World Cup history. Taken straight from the Russian coat of arms. the two (well, three when counting the two heads of the eagles) are the double-headed eagle of Ivan III and a sigil of St. George trampling a dragon. With both Byzantine and Hittite origins (that one’s for you AP Euro nerds) the hosts showcase an equally rich tradition of heraldry as that of Western footballing nations. Their bold crest serves as a reminder that no two eagles are alike.
Death, tax evasion and national team flags being used as capes and makeshift blouses – these are the constants of global soccer. And yet for all the creatively draped flags worldwide, we still haven’t seen anything quite like this.
Friend & Fam of KTTP Raymond An took a sewing machine and over $3000 US dollar’s worth of officially-licensed World Cup kit paraphernalia and pieced together the most loving reinterpretation of the South Korean flag, AKA “Taegukgi,” in recent history.
“I needed a Korean flag to take to Russia. I just moved to LA from the DMV and left my flag back at my home… Jerseys are always on my mind, and I wanted to create a flag, rather than buying one, to be a bit different than the rest.”
Stitched together from 31 of the 32 participating nations of the World Cup (He’s still looking for a Denmark kit) the fabric and crest of each national team is sewn into a portion of the larger tapestry of the red, white blue and black of the Republic of Korea.
His purpose for the creation of the flag is two-fold. The first is to conduct a genuine cultural exchange with the global soccer community and enhance Korea’s standing in it.
“I wanted to do whatever I can to raise more awareness for friends of mine as well as the general public around the world that Korea is well represented in the World Cup by its fans.”
While the second does not mince words when it comes to challenging Korean football fans to a more holistic and active approach to supporting than just tuning in for the World Cup.
“The hope here is to turn heads into our direction with this unique flag and convert these heads into actual fans for years to come… Korean football culture has a long way to go and I would bluntly say that our football culture sucks. Our culture is based on results and there aren’t as many passionate fans as other nations. Hopefully, this flag will inspire fellow Koreans out there to see it more as a way of life.”
The passion for global soccer takes on even greater meaning when Ray talks in his native language of kit design. With his credits at Guerrilla FC, Ray’s rendition of the Taegukgi is a living homage to the kits that boast design as unique as its representative footballing culture; each patch a purposeful effort to display those who deserve the shine more prominently, “Jerseys with distinctive patterns on their shirts like the ones in Belgium, Argentina, Germany and especially Nigeria to be shown visibly on the flag.”
A flag is our most visceral symbol. They are created to immediately evoke a people, a government, and its culture. It is a reminder — even amidst some of the negative ideals and notions conjured by FIFA and the World Cup — that many can become one.
In the spirit of global soccer culture, a phrase from across the pond seems apt. You’ve covered yourself in glory, Raynaldinho. We’ll be sure to leave our capes at home.
Keep up with Ray with #FollowtheFlag. And if you’ve got a Denmark jersey, please reach out to the man directly – he brought his sewing machine to Russia.