FEMALE IS FOOTBALL: MAXINE GOYNES

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For Maxine Goynes, sports were part of her DNA. With her mother hailing from the UK while having a love for athletics and football (soccer) heritage and her Father playing American football at UCLA, Max was almost destined to be on a field or track. Maxine takes us through her story from growing up in and around the Bay area, to playing college soccer, to moving to LA to pursue a career in acting, fitness, and modeling. Check out our conversation with Maxine as well as the Photoshoot and BTS video. 

Thanks to Nike for providing a few NSW pieces for the shoot.

Follow Maxine: @maxinegoynes

Visit: @NikeLosAngeles

Photos: @richimpossible

So to start things off could you give me your background,  where you’re from grew up and how you got connected with the sport of soccer.

I am originally from Modesto, which is in the Central Valley of Northern California. I considered the Bay Area as a second home as I would commute from Modesto to Pleasanton and play on the club soccer team there. My classes would finish early in high school and then I would commute to practice with the hope of having more opportunity and exposure to continue playing. I earned a scholarship to play soccer at Santa Clara University. I also played in the Olympic development program and was fortunate enough to travel a bit.

My parents met through sports. My mother is British, from Salisbury in the UK and my father actually played American football for UCLA.  After winning the Rose Bowl UCLA decided to send several players over to the UK to teach people how to play American football. My mother was overseeing Sports Promotion for the county Department of Parks and Recreation and one of the facilities happened to be where my father was visiting. Reluctantly, my mom was given the duty to give him a tour and happened to quickly appreciate his sensibility, integrity, and charisma. It reminds me that the universe works in miraculous ways and you never know when you will meet the love of your life. They stayed in contact back and forth after my father left.  Eventually, my father went back to the UK where he and my mother got married and had my older sister Danielle. They moved back to the USA and that was that!  I like to say, soccer and sport especially became part of my DNA.

So there is something really powerful about sport, based on the story of your parents, I would assume you would agree?

Yeah, you really realize the power of athletics.  My parents would have never met, let alone started an interracial relationship at that time had it not been for sport. You have two people from completely different sides of the world with completely different upbringings, but they understood each other.

So do you have siblings? And if so did they play soccer as well?

Yes, I have three sisters and I am the second oldest. We all played soccer. I truly feel that my older sister was probably the best soccer player out of all of us. She actually broke her ankle playing competitively, so it wasn’t really something that she continued to pursue after the injury.  We all had very different temperaments and personalities. Sasha my younger sister  very much the girl picking flowers, wanting everyone to get along, my baby Erica was the strategist and I was always just very intense; a run and gun type. My father coached our teams  and I always subconsciously thought of it as an opportunity to prove to him having daughters wasn’t a consultation of any kind. It was our chance to prove to him that, having athletic daughters was a big win. We really tried to play very strong and I think my mother in fact  the foundation of us being strong women.

I always felt at a crossroads because I  wanted to cheerlead & dance. My parents wanted us to be able to play a sport that they felt was gonna would give us permission to take up space in an aggressive manner. Not to say you can’t do those things within the arts, but soccer is just different. Now I can appreciate that as it was very forward for women’s empowerment. I did always try to find a way to marry those two things; femininity & masculinity.  I was a player that was very assertive but I wore a ribbon in my hair while doing so. I always wanted both and I think that soccer was a way that you can still explore femininity and masculinity. That’s really cool. That’s really the way I kind of put it into perspective.

So can you talk a little about your transition from playing in college to moving into things and career off the field?

I played in college and then while I was in college, the league for women at the time both opened up and also folded. So this was a time where you knew there may be potential to play and then quickly also realized that it may be fragile.

Looking back I definitely start to recognize how fear and a  scarcity mindset can start to affect your decision making. I knew how much my family had sacrificed for me to get an education and wanted to know that I would be able to support myself financially immediately following school.  That can be intimidating, most of us had dedicated our whole life to playing.  Emotionally I decided regardless of pay I was ready to leave playing the game. I was ready to use everything that soccer taught me off the field with new challenges.  I very much recognize that there were women that I played with and I grew up playing with such as Julie Ertz, Christen Press, Kelly O’ Hara and Alex Morgan,  all women who are on the full (USWNT) team that were hungry to play. When I witnessed the level of commitment that they had, I had so much respect for it, but I also knew that it was not for me to continue playing. The plan was to use the sport as a foundation and a stepping stone to build character & relationships. I left soccer in a way that respected, the sport and respected everybody that was still playing.

 So what did you study and get your degree in and how did that lead you to where you are and what you are doing today?

So when I was in school, I studied communication.  I was always interested in business but I actually started to take a communication major because we had a family friend at the time who had a very successful family company and they shared with me how the most difficult thing for them in the hiring process was finding people that really had the social skills to connect with other people. Following soccer,  I earned an internship in the spring of my senior year. IMG was a huge talent firm in sports & hospitality in San Francisco.

And while I was in school, I was asked to be in the NCAA commercial on behalf of women’s soccer. This was the first time that I was working in film and I was in my full kit, but I had hair and makeup on. I was like, what is this? What is this world? What is this about? At the time, I thought I was interested in commentating and hosting. I love film and people but wasn’t sure how I would combine the two interests.

 I will never forget, I had a meeting with Ted Griggs the now president of Comcast Sports Bay area.

He asks me, “Okay, you wake up one Sunday morning and there’s a sports section open of the newspaper and on the table next to it there’s a Vanity Fair. Which one do you pick up first?” I didn’t even have to answer. I knew and he knew. Sports weren’t really what I wanted to do. He looked at me and said, “Go to LA, you love film, you love people, you have the tools to be successful at anything you do but sports in this capacity isn’t for you. Carry it with you, it’s a part of you but not ALL of you.”  So I left and I moved to LA. I’m so grateful for that conversation. I moved to LA, to pursue entertainment and film, and I started my first job with a modeling agency shooting lifestyle and fitness shoots while working as a remote recruiter for visual artists.

How have you seen the industry change since moving to LA as well as what have you seen change in women’s soccer since you stopped playing?

I think that technology, in general, has allowed athletes, specifically female athletes to connect to an audience and allows us as an audience to see how complex, dynamic and layered the women are.

 It’s been beautiful because we would all tune in and watch the World Cup or watch the game and we knew a player for their position. But we didn’t know their position in life. We didn’t know she was a mother, girlfriend, sister, thought leader, and advocate for things that she’s passionate about in society. I feel like it has really allowed us to see the holistic transparent beauty in a human being. It’s moving when you can know anyone’s backstory. When you know a little bit more about what moves them in the world or what fear/concern they have outside of being on the field then you become invested in them even more so.  Yes, people are more connected to their individuality, but I think that also can create a community. I think that when we can collectively appreciate individuals, it strengthens the community.

Do you see elements like players loving sneakers helping the popularity of the game grow?

I think that sneakers allow people to have conversations that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise. Sneakers act as an ice breaker. They allow us to connect with someone that didn’t come from the same walk of life. When I see someone in this sneaker and now that allows me to have a conversation with her, to feel like she understands different parts of culture outside of her own, and vice versa that’s special.  I feel that seeing women able to show and express themselves through their sneakers can be something very intimate. This is something that we use as a tool to physically move through the world. And so I think it’s just something beautiful no matter if she’s the type of player that wants to keep her classic sneaker on her or she’s wearing something that’s like a collab or whatever it may be. She has one and there’s a story behind why she wears what she wears and what she’s drawn to. And it’s something that allows us to start to explore and be curious about each other.

To stay on the topic of sneakers, what’s your favorite to wear?

Anything that’s a knit material I really love. But also my view has changed a little bit. My father, in 2017, passed away from cancer and it changed the way I see the world. Now when I think about my favorite sneakers and I think about a classic sneaker like low top forces. For me, I’m really drawn to minimalism and focusing on less being more. How I can wear that sneaker in a versatile way is something that I really appreciate. I think that a lot of that has been shaped by life experience and for me.

That is so great, and I have to ask, on the fashion side of things what designer are you rocking the most lately?

I love Jerry Lorenzo and everything he does with Fear of God. When I see his shoes as I’m like,” Oh my goodness!” I am truly moved. What a beautiful way to merge high fashion with streetwear and make it in a timeless kind of look and style with earth tones and color palettes. I really respect that approach of mixing the minimalism and the contemporary. I love it.

Switching gears a little bit, I wanted to ask what are your about your thoughts on the importance of making the game of soccer more accessible to more communites that might have not expereinced the game before?

I think that any time you can bring a more diverse group of people together and that might mean diverse in perspective, culture, race, socioeconomic group, spirituality,  any time we can do that, I find advantages to us all evolving and growing as people. I went to Santa Clara University, which is a private Jesuit university. It’s an expensive university and a beautiful one. There were not many women on the team that looked like me. I remember playing in games and having, little girls come up wanting to get my autograph and what it meant for them to be able to see me on that team.

Wherever there’s a team and a potential for resources, for finances to be made through sport, it means that those people have more opportunity, not only for them being an athlete but for them as a person. So I absolutely do feel that one of the beautiful things about soccer is that it is the biggest and most global sport and you can go to any other country and see people playing, even with a beaten up ball, on dirt fields. In comparison to other sports like wakeboarding or snowboarding or something of this nature, that requires a lot of expensive tools and equipment, soccer is accessible. I do think that is what’s so beautiful about this sport and so many people of different backgrounds are connected to it.

The more diversity that we can get to the sport, the better. It’s also important because the conversations that happen amongst teammates and in the locker room trickle into our lives. There were times that I would have a teammate that grew up in an area where she wasn’t used to being around women that came from my culture but she and I, we loved each other. We were in the fields fighting for each other. We had an appreciation for each other and that trickled into our friendships and to our families and it seeps into the world. There’s this beautiful flowing, essentially like a union that happens through the sport that can be continued into how we treat each other in the world.

Last questionnow that you have been away from the sport as a player for a bit—how do you see soccer having a role in your life going forward?

I personal train women that work in the creative space and want to use my background in storytelling and film to create space for us together. I am focused on MG METHOD which will be a lifestyle brand and extension of my private clientele. I’m not physically playing soccer anymore,  but missed most of all the sisterhood and being able to encourage somebody through adversity and triumph. I enjoy that. Working with the private client whether it be in training or media allows me to do that with women and still remain a teammate and supporter. I’m a system for them to have success in their life.

I also am still very much involved in acting and film. I’ll always find ways to do that. I  have been creating original content most recently and know in my heart I will continue to act. For the last couple of months, we have been training for a feature film directed by R.L. Scott, where we have action choreography. My trainer for this movie, Chyna McCoy was the body double for Morpheus in the Matrix. The interesting thing is that this has been really fascinating to also be able to use my body in new ways. I was a former Division One athlete. I can do this. I have so much respect for how movement, with regard to film and choreography,  is VERY different. I feel like a child in the sense that I am completely starting over and it’s been very new, but I am also looking forward to the potential of doing any sort of action in a movie.

FAMILY BUSINESS: NIKY’S SPORTS WITH LUIS ORELLANA

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Ask any soccer player in Los Angeles, and there is a good chance that they have had some sort of experience with the soccer retailer Niky’s Sports. Whether that is buying boots or products at one of their stores, attending one of the many events that they put on, or seeing their presence at countless soccer events around the city. Niky’s is an institution in the Los Angeles soccer scene and the people behind it are equally passionate about the beautiful game as they are their brand.

Thirty three years after Niky’s opened their first location, the company now counts eight locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area. The store locations are as diverse as the City of Angels itself and further prove that Niky’s understands not only its customers, but the city they call home.

We sat down with Luis Orellano to talk about all things Niky’s: where they have been and where they are going, what it’s like to grow up in and around soccer stores, and why a genuine love for the game is at the heart of what Niky’s does.

 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about Niky’s and how it started?

Luis: October 30th, 1986 is the day my dad opened the doors of our first store. The first store is about two blocks west of the store we are currently are sitting in. We’re a family owned business. The majority of the stores are owned jointly by my dad and my uncle. The other two stores are owned by other brothers. Everybody in our family works at one of the stores. The entire family in involved with the business.

Q: So six stores are owned by your dad and brother, and the other two stores are owned by other family members. But the entire Niky’s organization is run under the same umbrella?

Luis: Correct.

Q: What is your role or title within Niky’s sports?

Luis: I guess you can label me the CEO. I don’t like labels, but I am the one that is in charge of putting the plan together for the businesses. Where we want to grow. How we want to go about it. Where our biggest opportunities are and what are the biggest threats to the business.

Q: You have eight stores. Has it been steady growth or has expansion been in more recent years?

Luis: We had two stores for I think eight or ten years. When I graduated from college and I really started diving into our business, I felt like we had a huge opportunity to expand. LA is huge and there are so many people that play soccer and I always felt there was room to grow. We couldn’t reach everybody at that point as we only had two stores.

In my opinion, to reach more people you have to have a physical footprint to really affect those communities. Online is a great tool that we utilize, but there is nothing like going into a store and trying on new boots. That is such a unique experience that you can’t have online. The things that we specialize in, we feel we have to have a brick and mortar experience for that.

Q: You went to school at Cal Poly Pomona, but what were the early years like for Luis? Did you play soccer? Spend lots of times at the stores? What was that like?

Luis: All I wanted to do was play soccer. I started playing when I was four. I played high school. I played a little bit of club soccer. But when I was younger my dad started this organization that was meant to give kids from El Salvador an opportunity to show their talent to not only professional teams from El Salvador but also to the federation. Unfortunately because of the civil war, a lot of people left El Salvador and came here to LA. So there is a massive Salvadorian community here and my dad saw that as an opportunity, so he and a couple friends created an organization where if you were a kid of El Salvadorian descent, you could play. And we became really, really good. We would play professional teams from El Salvador. Our first team was like a little academy. Unfortunately that doesn’t exist anymore, but it was a great opportunity for a lot of kids.

Q: What was it like growing up loving soccer and being able to go into a soccer store everyday and see all the latest products?

Luis: It was awesome, dude. I would see all the new boots before everybody else. I remember being on the phone at like 14 or 15 years old and calling people in places like Spain and Argentina. Trying to get Atletico Madrid jerseys. Trying to get Boca Juniors and River Plate jerseys. Products like that didn’t exist here. There wasn’t a licensed jersey business here. But we had people asking for them so we would try and get them.

Every aspect of my life revolved around the store. I would come here after high school. Every day after school I would come here. In the summers I was here everyday. When I would have a game on a Saturday, I would play my game and then come back to the store. And it never bothered me. I always wanted to do it. It was awesome.

Early on my dad bought one of those massive satellite dishes. Not the small ones they have now. But the giant ones that were around back in the day. That was the only way back then that we could get all the European games. We would watch them all at my dad’s store.

At that time Serie A was the league. My dad and I would get up super early to come and watch games at the store. There would already be like six or eight of his friends outside waiting to watch the games with us.

Q: Your dad sounds like a staple of the community. He had his stores. People would come in to the store to hang, watch games and be a part of what was going on there. He helped start an organization that helped young Salvadorian kids to play soccer. How important is that sort of community role been to the success of Niky’s over the years?

Luis: I think it’s been vital because our communities understand that we are invested in them. Sure we are here to service you when you need cleats and balls and shinguards. But we’re also trying to inspire some kids or give some kids a chance. The object of that program that my dad helped start was to give kids a chance.

We want the communities that we are involved in to understand that we are more than just a soccer shop. We do events and we try to give back to local schools and community organizations because we’re not just here to sell you products, but we’re also here to help grow the sport that we love.

Q: It seems like this is an example of the better that Niky’s does as a positive member of the community, the better the business does overall.

Luis: I also think you have to be authentic when doing it. This sport means so much to so many people and you have to try and do things the right way. The soccer community here in LA is so knowledgeable and so diverse and they have been around a long time. Futbol in LA isn’t new here. What is happening here with the local MLS teams is incredible but the sport has been a huge part of the community for a very long time here.

Q: In the years since you have worked at Niky’s full-time, the sport has grown quite a bit here in LA. What are some of the ways in which you have seen that are maybe more specific to LA?

Luis: There’s more attention to it now. There’s more national and global eyes on LA from a soccer perspective. But if you look at what futbol means to this city, it’s a super important part of this city, it’s been vital. It’s instrumental. Because of the large immigrant community. It’s a diverse community. The Central and South American influence is huge. That’s always been here. Now, there’s just a lot more eyeballs on the sport and a lot more investment as well. From the league perspective. The brands are making bigger investments  and making it a focus globally. That’s all helped grow the game to new heights. Thats the only difference. The passion and love for it hasn’t changed.

Q: As the game has grown here, have you seen an overall rise of awareness from people who maybe aren’t core soccer fans?

Luis: I think the biggest difference we have seen is from a more casual fan. A large part of that has to do with LAFC. There are a lot more fans that are casual fans. They might not know as much about the sport. They might not have really played the sport as a kid. But something about the experience is helping them gravitate to soccer. We started working with LAFC pretty much as soon as they were announced. That investment for us and working with them has really paid off for us.

Interesting though, we have also seen a rise in Galaxy jerseys as well. That’s awesome to see too. LAFC really galvanized the Galaxy fanbase and they have come out and supported their teams and made sure people know that they have been Galaxy fans for a long time.

Q: You spoke about the diversity of LA and the local immigrant community. LA is a very diverse place and soccer is sort of an extension of that notion. The way that you guys have grown kind of seems to follow that. You’re downtown, you’re in the inner cities, but you’re also on the westside and in the valley that may be more suburban. As a brand, you guys seem to be a representation of what soccer culture looks like in LA. Is that something you find to be true and is this something that you guys plan and strategize around?

Luis: Thats exactly what we do. Soccer doesn’t discriminate. It is inclusive for all types of people and social status and class. If we want to service every soccer playing person of this huge community then we have to be in all these places. So we have a store in West LA where it might be a more affluent customer and it may be a different customer than a customer here in downtown. It doesn’t matter where you live or your social class, the soccer community needs to be serviced the right way. We’re very proud and very confident that we have the knowledge and the experience to service the soccer community in a very unique way.

Our biggest objective is that everyone that walks in our store walks out with the right items that they need to enjoy this game.

Q: I imagine that is based on a fundamental love that you all have for the game.

It’s about futbol. That’s all. If we don’t care about the game we’re not going to be successful in this thing. But everyone that works for us has a love for the game. It’s instrumental. If you want to do what we do you have to love this. If we’re not true to the game then we’re done. If we don’t display that every time someone comes in our stores, that this is about futbol/soccer, then we are done. That’s our biggest opportunity—show everyone that we are authentic to the game and the city and that we know what we are talking about. I think that’s really, really important.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you went from two stores to eight in a relatively short period of time. And its seems that you guys did that in a time when other retailers are closing doors. What makes Niky’s successful in a time when other retailers are struggling?

Luis: First of all, let me say that nobody here at our business takes any joy from seeing a competitor go out of business. That genuinely bothers me. I know how much blood, sweat and tears people put into something like this. It’s not easy, man. I feel for them. I really, really do.

I think we’re successful because we’re authentic and through our hard work and persistence in the market place, we’ve been able to get people’s vote of confidence. They know that when they come into our store they are going to get treated right and that they will find what they need. I think our service and knowledge sets us apart. It’s not easy. But I think our experience, knowledge and the shopping experience make a huge difference for us. We’re proud of the stores and how we have created a new shopping experience for kids. Why can’t kids in the inner-city have a great shopping experience? Every consumer deserves that and our goal is to provide that for everyone.

I remember being a kid and trying on new boots and what that felt like and what that experience was like. We want to create that for every customer that comes in the door.

Q: When I look at Niky’s it seems that you guys connect with the city and the cultural aspect beyond just the sport. Is that true and does that make you guys even more unique as a soccer retailer in Los Angeles?

Luis: You are 100% correct. Futbol in this city cuts deep and there are so many creatives in this city and that gives us an opportunity to work on special projects that might have nothing to do with a cleat or a jersey. I’ve been a big proponent of soccer culture for years. I’m all about taking risks with local brands and with local artists to create special items and deliver them to the community. I believe there is an appetite here for that kind of stuff.

We’ve worked with LAFC, we’ve done popups with local brand FC Dorsum. We’ve done collaborations with local artists like Nevermade, he’s a graffiti artist that did a great collection with us for LAFC. We’ve done stuff with Guillermo Andrade from 424. All these things have a huge cultural impact. Not only to the game but quite frankly to the city. These are real LA stories—and if we can tell these stories and reach some kids. That’s the best, man.

Q: Speaking of LA stories, you did a project with PUMA that explored LA neighborhoods through footwear. Tell us about that.

Luis: That project was 18 months ago now. About three years ago PUMA came to us and said they wanted to do a project with key specialty soccer partners around the globe. For the US part of this, they wanted to partner with Niky’s and they wanted us to do it around LA. I think there were only four accounts across the world that were a part of this project. I told them from the beginning that this has to be about LA and they were super supportive of that.

We worked with another local artist, Qudo. The idea of the pack was that our first store was in downtown LA. In downtown LA there are a lot of different districts. We chose three to focus on: the flower district, the jewelry district and the garment district. We made three shoes inspired by those districts. We were really proud of that collaboration. It was promoted globally by PUMA. Antoine Griezmann wore one of the cleats. He was supposed to wear them for one game but he ended up liking them so much he wore them for like four or five games. That was a great project and we’re actually working on the second version of that now.

Q: How did it feel when you saw Griezmann wear something that you guys created?

Luis: CRAZY!! I couldn’t believe it. It gave us a great sense of pride. All the work that we have put in as a family was recognized globally. That was really special.

Q: You seem to have a great vision of where you see Niky’s going in the future. Can you talk a little about that?

Luis: I think we have a huge potential as a company. We have ambitious plans leading up to the Olympics and World Cup coming here. We’re hoping that the Women’s World Cup will be here soon. We’re bullish on our brick and mortar presence. We understand that we need to invest in digital, but we want to invest in digital to help it grow our brick and mortar and for both to compliment one another. We want to open more physical stores in cities that have asked us for a store. Continue working on collaborations with the local teams. Bring energy and differentiation to the soccer experience. And continue to show our love for the sport and our love for LA.

MASHUP KITS FROM THE HEART: FLOOR WESSELING

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We admit that talking about a guy who mashes up kits is a bit on the nose for our brand, which, is all about the mashing up of culture and football. However, Floor Wesseling is somebody who truly embodies the ethos of KTTP. The Dutchman grew up listening to Hip-hop, wearing Raiders Stater Jackets, and collecting kits from all across Europe. Wesseling is a graphic designer who worked for Nike designer National Team kits and currently is the Art Director for the Dutch National Team or KVB.

Floor’s latest project “Blood In Blood Out” is named after the 1993 film depicting the lives of Paco, Cruz, and Miklo as they struggle with the issues of identity, race, family and gang violence in their East LA home(Vatos Locos Forever). The collection also deals with similar ideas using kits and their crests as symbols of identity that inspire loyalty or animosity. It is a nod to European heraldry, the evolution of the kit as garment, and a social experiment meant to troll some of the long held and sincere hatreds in world football. 

 

A central theme of “Blood In Blood Out” is the power of symbols and the way they hide in plain sight on a football kit. When commissioned with an art show in Ireland, Floor plastered promo posters across the city with a half Irish half English kit. The community took matters into their own hands. “I Instantly realized I have something here because people are ripping the posters off…They hated seeing that combination.” Floor has even received death threats as a result of his mashed-up rival kits in certain communities where the tensions between clubs is especially high. But as he asked one complaintant, “Who would Ajax be without Feyenoord?”

Trafficking in team colors and club crests as “wearable flags”—he interested in how those symbols appeal to our personal, prickly senses of tribalism. Time and time again, Floor has seen that it’s all fun and games until it is your club that has been given the split shirt treatment.

“They love the projects throughout the years. I always got compliments, until it’s about you. If your rival is shown combined with your shirt, your identity, you get mental at me.”

Is it basic sadism to concoct kits capable of shaking the ardent footy fan? Floor would argue a more positive, purer intention. Through the catalog of controversial custom-mades, he makes no attempt to mask his distaste for his rival Feyenoord. The combination of these well-known public symbols is cathartic. “Unification in the face of obvious rivalry.” He takes a football shirt and uses it to talk about everything but football.

“Not talking about football, just using it as a canvas. Telling the story about Europe through heraldry.”

The most iconic of Floor’s cut and sew pieces include England/Argentina, House of Tudors, and Old Firm United. They quickly eclipse tired homecoming homages and leave you in a state of justified mystification at what two disparate symbols can conjure together. Wesseling is moving past the incediary rival kits and has began to make kits that represent a specific individual’s identtiy. He has made kits representing the entire careers, like the one he did for Ruud van Nistelroy, whose eyes lit up when he looked at the visual journey that the one shirt encapsulated. Floor also details a time when he was approached by a man in such wonder who asked for a Greece/Portugal shirt to represent the culture of his parents, his culture, and his blood.

As a designer, Floor Wesseling is an old pro in the football beautification business. He may be doing it in a manner in which we have never seen, but “Blood In Blood Out” is a footballing mirror. It reinforces what we value when the things we devalue are placed just inches away.

MESUT OZIL AND THE “BRUISED BANANA” ADIDAS ARSENAL KIT

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This year Arsenal came to Los Angeles for the first leg of their North American Pre-season Tour. Here in LA adidas and Arsenal unveiled the highly anticipated 2019/20 away kit inspired by the kit worn in the 92-93 season, affectionately dubbed the “Bruised Banana.” We caught up with Arsenal superstar Mesut Özil to get his thoughts on the kit and also pick his brain about 90s culture and fashion.

 

FEMALE IS FOOTBALL: CARA WALLS

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Hailing from Wauwatosa, WI, Cara Walls has repped her state at just about every level within the sport. From winning national championships at the U-18 level with her club team to representing the University of Madison, Wisconsin at the collegiate level Cara has done her state proud. We recently caught up with Cara to learn a bit more about her career, what it was like to play with players like Christen Press and about her new undertaking studying architecture and urban planning.

Follow Cara: @ckaydub

Photos: @ts_xiv

Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from and your early days with the sport?

I’m from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and I started playing soccer at an early stage. I played for FC Milwaukee, which was the only team in the area that could compete with some of the bigger clubs in the Midwest as well as teams from around the country. My final year of youth soccer we won the U-18 national championship which was really cool.

So you win the U-18 national championship and then get to play college soccer and continue repping your state. What was your collegiate experience like?

I loved the university, the people, just the culture that they created…like competing and being competitive, being a leader. I was able to be captain my junior and senior years. I won some individual awards like the offensive player of the year. It was really a blessing that soccer offered me the opportunity to go to school at Madison and to have an unforgettable experience there.

Post-college, you end up getting drafted and playing for the Chicago Red Stars. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

It was an amazing experience and one that, once again, soccer provided for me. That was beautiful for me. I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked to though. I think I started two games my first year and five games my second year (and scored two goals). My second year was an improvement but I’m playing with some of the best players in the world at this time. I’m playing behind Christen Press and with some of the greatest players in the world. So although I wasn’t starting as much as I would have liked it was a great experience for me. 

In the middle of my third season there I got released and ended up signing with Saarbrucken in Germany. I loved it there. It was another example of soccer providing me with an amazing opportunity. This time to travel to a new country, meet new people and to just really grow as a person. I played a season there, traveled around Europe quite a lot and had a great time. After that season I wanted to see myself doing different things. I didn’t see myself on the road and traveling for the next five years. So I decided to go to grad school and invest in another career. That’s where I found myself now.

When I started to play there was hardly any women’s football on television. It was not broadcasted and the Dutch Women’s team at that time was not participating at the big tournaments. So I had to watch Eurosport in order to see a little bit of international women’s football and that started during the Women’s World Cup in 99. Especially the USA women’s team stood out for me. They were playing for big crowds, winning the tournament in the end. Really special to see that on tv and to see all these great players from the different countries at that stage.

Soccer has taken you on a number of journeys and now you are on a new one. What’s this career path you are undertaking?

I’m studying architecture and urban planning and I have an emphasis on landscape architecture, sustainable building with an interest in futuristic design and creating community spaces. So that’s the program I’m currently in. And I’m still involved with soccer – I’m an assistant coach for the women’s team.

Architecture is giving me an opportunity to try and find solutions for problems that we have created and to really try and find solutions through sustainability.

Let’s transition for a minute here. We’ve talked about your soccer career. Your love of design and sustainability. What about any interest you have from a cultural standpoint? Is music, or sneakers or fashion anything you have particular interests in?

I love music. It’s like the heartbeat of everything for me so I’m always keeping an eye for new music.  I’m definitely a hip hop and R&B person. I like fashion and sneakers although I’m not a hardcore sneakerhead. I do like cleats though. I like collecting cleats.  I have a thing for old Predators. I probably have five or six pairs of adidas Copas that I’m always wearing. I like the classic adidas three stripe sweatpants. 

I’m a fan of Diadora and some of the old school stuff from the ’90s as well. 

You mentioned your love of music, give us three artists you are into right now.

I would go with Lil Baby. I also like Drake, 2 Chainz, Chance the Rapper, Lauryn Hill. I’m a 2Pac fans as well. We have the same birthday.

You and 2Pac having the same birthday is a fun fact. What’s your favorite Pac song?

God bless the dead. I really like that one. 

So back to soccer, did you watch the Women’s World Cup?

Of course. I went to school with Rose Lavelle. She’s a bit younger than me but we played in college. We played together in my junior and senior years. My senior year we just kind of took over and ended up winning the Big 10. She’s awesome. And it’s been so fun to see her putting on for Wisconsin. She just looks majestic on the ball. She’s insane. 

We’ve seen the women’s side of the sport really grow and the attention around it heightened in recent years. What are your thoughts on that?

I think it’s definitely changed for us for the better. I think social media and the kind of visibility around the sport is important. Seeing an Instagram account for the NWSL, seeing posters and campaigns from Nike. The visibility is important because I don’t think it was there in the previous years and I think it is having an impact. Like the Nike campaigns, the Nike commercials are really powerful and something that had just been missing. It really hasn’t been there like the last 10 years. So I think the advertising and branding itself is really important. Getting the message across that we have a really powerful team. 

We have a certain privilege of actually training these women. And getting them the resources they need to have a really competitive team and that’s, that’s a beautiful thing that not all countries have. So I think being able to support that and kind of showing the progression of women through soccer is really powerful. And I think that’s what’s happening right now. And I think it’s because of the growth of the NWSL. 

There’s really talented women all over the world, but a lot of times they don’t have the resources or the support from the country. So I think it’s really good for the United States and the developed world that were supporting the women’s team. And we have a really powerful women’s team. I think it’s a really good image for younger women that this is an option for them. You know, you can now grow up dreaming of being a professional women’s soccer player because that’s something, even as a really talented young player, I didn’t have that vision because I didn’t really know what existed. I think that’s great. And I think it’s all part of the US moving forward and us progressing as a country of supporting what we have going on with the women’s side of things.

Last questionnow that you have been away from the sport as a player for a bit and are back in school for architecture—how do you see soccer having a role in your life going forward?

I had played soccer for 24 years and it was the dominant thing in my life. So I was really excited to try and do other things in other fields. But I already miss playing soccer and I’ve had a couple of opportunities to play again at a high level. One of which was in a summer league in Iceland. So I want to continue to try and play at some level. 

I’m currently an assistant coach at the college I am attending and I do private sessions as well. I feel like I have a lot to offer and things to pass on to young players and I really enjoy that. So through coaching and being able to spread the knowledge, I’ve learned through the game and then, maybe, getting back and playing in a summer league in Iceland or somewhere closer to home would be great.

PORTLAND VIBES WITH LINDSEY MILLER

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If your idea of a perfect job is something that blends your love of soccer with the opportunity to travel all over the world to new and exotic locales planning events with some of the most incredible and talented people all over the globe you probably want Lindsey Miller’s job. As the Event Manager for adidas Soccer North America, Lindsey finds herself deeply involved in many of the releases, events, and activations that so many of us follow along with on social media. Lindsey has been able to take her passion for the sport and apply it to a career that is so much more than just a job. Full of passion, intelligence, and hustle, Lindsey is in the epicenter of what adidas Soccer is doing in North America and is a key part of the brand efforts to grow the sport in the US.

We sat down with Lindsey to hear more about her story, her role with adidas, and some memorable projects that she has worked on.

Follow Lindsey: @ellkayyemm

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Nashua, NH

Can you tell us about your soccer experience growing up? Did you play college? Where?

I’ve played soccer for as long as I can remember. I followed around my older brother in our backyard and our basement and we’d play wherever we could. I played on an all-boys team until I was U-12. For club soccer, I played my most competitive years for Seacoast United (New Hampshire), as well as on the NH ODP team and then Varsity High School for 4 years at Bishop Guertin High School. I then was lucky enough to get a scholarship to play at the University of Virginia—GO HOOS! It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I committed to play at UVA(that I knew I was going to play soccer in college) as I was pretty sure I was going to end up playing college basketball instead. Looking back I can’t have imagined going or playing anywhere else.

Can you talk about your path to working at adidas? How did you end up there and what your role is with the brand?

Out of college, I knew I wanted to work in something around sport or athletics and got pretty lucky getting hired for a small event production company based out of Colorado. We owned and produced events—anything from triathlons, mud runs, and 5Ks to beer festivals. I was at that company for around 5 years and then my old roommate/colleague got a job at adidas HQ and he then basically convinced me to apply for an events role that had opened.

A few interviews later, I was hired! My current role is within our Marketing/Communications team as the Event Manager for all North America soccer activations—so anything from product launches to grassroots events to working with our European clubs to activate when they are in the US.

What have been some of your favorite events or launches that you have worked on?

Working on anything around World Cup was obviously a dream come true as it’s incredible to see the planning that goes into it. I think the Predator relaunch in 2017 was also a really cool project just because Predator is such an iconic franchise and seeing the excitement from it being brought back into the market was amazing.

As a kid that grew up playing soccer, what has it been like to work with an iconic soccer brand like adidas?

The last 3 and a half years have flown by and sometimes I have to take a step back to realize how lucky I am to work at adidas and do what I do. Being able to work in the world of soccer has been an absolute dream and I love coming to work every day.

My job has given me opportunities to not only meet an incredible group of people but also has given me experiences I’d never imagined I would get. I got to go to the World Cup final in Moscow last year and am going to the Copa America final in Rio this year. I’ve been in the same room as Messi and Kaka. It’s humbling to think about how lucky I am.

How would you describe the football culture?

The great thing about sports and soccer, in particular, is that you can connect with so many individuals across the globe. And that’s probably my favorite part about it. It is not just one-sided. There are so many aspects to the soccer culture that some people forget to recognize. There’s fashion and there’s a cool factor to it. There’s a language to it and there’s a community. I love that.

That predator relaunch was amazing as have been some of the experiences you’ve had through your career. Is there any advice you can pass on for people looking to start a career in soccer?

My advice for anyone looking for a career in anything they are passionate about would be the same—it’s all about managing and engaging in relationships with people that you already know, and then getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with people you don’t.  You’d be surprised at how deep networks run.  To be connected, all you need to do is ask and set up a phone call with the right person.

I’ve always had a hard time reaching out to people I don’t know, but it’s much easier to connect with someone if you have a mutual friend to do so. Long story short, just network as much as you can—and be a sincere person. That always helps.

If you had to choose one, Predators or Copas?

AH! This is not a fair question!!! The new Preds are SO comfortable and I love that I don’t have to break them in. They feel like slippers. The Copas are just classics though!  You can’t really go wrong either way, but if I had to choose, I’d go Predator.  Also, younger me would be mad at older me if I DIDN’T choose Preds because they were my favorite cleat growing up.

Sambas or Gazelles?

Gazelles! In all of the colors, please!

PATTA’S PITCH FOR CULTURE

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As a black man born and raised in Italy, my life, identity, culture, and influence were something I had to fully commit myself to. Being raised by Ghanaian parents and knowing my origins kept me grounded though. Most of the influence I got from outside of my home was from stars on the pitch that looked like me. Players like George Weah, Marcel Desailly, Edgar Davids, Stephen Appiah, and Lilly Thuram just to name a few. The rest of my inspiration flowed through music and what I considered stylish as an adolescent. All these helped me connect and move in confidence in a place where people of my background had to make things happen without handouts. Some made it happen with a ball that afforded them a platform highlighting their culture, while others like the Sabajo brothers Edson & Tim — leaders of the Patta streetwear brand — gradually connected the dots and grew from success to success until they reached where they are today. After interviewing Edson & Tim, there was so much to share that I think will connect dots for people to see the game of soccer, hip hop, and culture itself as a greater gift than what it is portrayed to be in the past.

If you’ve never made the connection between football and streetwear culture or thought about hip hop having an influence on the global sport you have been missing out on some highlights. No worries though, the experience isn’t a limited edition sneaker, there is more room to be filled.  This movement has been documented in the form of threads that tell stories through collaborations by your favorite brands, crafted by the culture mavens at Patta.

Patta—the Dutch street brand created by Edson Sabajo and Guillaume ‘Gee’ Schmidt, is more than what meets the eye. The brand has been able to do something that not many can. They have nurtured and remained true to their roots and foundation while simultaneously being leaders of creative innovation in streetwear culture.

What makes Patta so special is the stories that live within their creations. This value they stand on pays homage to their roots of Surinam (the country in South America where their parents migrated from), life experiences from street football, music, and sneakers. It doesn’t just end there though. Patta thrives as a story of neighborhood heroes claiming their territory and living what they considered cool in their neck of the woods. Edson and his brother Tim Sabajo, represent what it means to be trendsetters and the notion that holding your own in a world where proving yourself gives you a pass in your neighborhood. Sounds pretty familiar right?

In America, you’ll find a basketball court close to every neighborhood where legends were made. But none compare to the Mecca aka Rucker Park where you can’t step foot on the court to compete unless you got game or a superb sense of style. Well—imagine that same type of culture and pressure, but in Europe. The sport being football and the game being played by people who don’t all look like you—yet coming from the same struggle as immigrants. There was too much happening in their world to sit still. Edson and his brother Tim grew up in Holland as Ajax fans and were heavily involved in soccer, but not just friendly matches. Instead, they were entrenched in street football where you would play against some of the most skilled, toughest, and flashiest players.

“So you play outside and every hood, every block has like a basketball court, but it’s a football court and you come together and we all play football. Then you went from one court to another court to play the other guys. So you know each other, but then you see each other on the pitch. So on the field you will see each other and then you look at each other like what do you wear.”

The top performers became mavericks and mostly built their reputation on the pitch by being top players, which then transcended into the streets. There was no love for the ones who could not hold their own in the game of soccer or lacked style while playing it. The Sabajo brothers quickly figured something out about getting a rep and the culture they loved so much. So they took advantage of it by meshing their love for the game with music and making sure that they stayed fresh in the latest gear.

“Sometimes you end up seeing guys you see in the club, but you also know them from the pitch would say oh, he is nice with the ball. He was a nice football player. He was nice with that. Plus he had style, you know, that’s how you connect.“

The hunger and grind are just different. The Sabajo brothers had to be playing for something bigger than themselves. Being raised black in Europe is already an experience of its own, but adding the pressure of carrying the torch and leaving a mark is a whole different ball game. Imagine living in the Netherlands, facing the challenges that come with being black and trying to craft and lead a culture. The challenges they might have faced had to have been tougher than what others deal with today, but backing down was never an option.

I remember many challenges faced as a black child growing up in Italy. Though happy moments outlive the bad moments, I was always reminded that I was black. I recall one day after playing outside with friends, most likely soccer, I decided to go to the store and buy a snack. As I stood there, a child about my age walked up to me staring and then rubbed her hand on my arm and looked down at her hand to see if my skin rubbed off. I walked out of the store that day realizing how different I was. Yet the only place where I felt like I belonged or wasn’t being judged was on the pitch, where all worries left my mind and my dreams along with friendships came alive.

The brothers credit street football as the inspiration for their fashion while admiring some of the guys in their neighborhood. Some who would construct and customize their own shoes or even rock fresh jerseys. But that fashion sense was only a part of their overall style. Hip hop sounds from the likes of Public Enemy to Whodini blasted through their boomboxes, affording them the opportunity to connect with people from other crews. Hip hop sounds connected their community as one and empowered the young people to represent where they were from. The brothers who have always identified with black culture saw the movement that took place in the United States. They admired it, studied it, mastered it, and eventually made it their own.

Edson and Tim capitalized on the opportunity to craft their brand after the culture they had been part of by creating their own soccer jersey repping their home team Ajax in collaboration with Umbro. The Patta brand wasn’t just born when the brothers were flying abroad to America or Japan to buy exclusive sneakers to resell in Amsterdam. It instead came to life when they decided to involve people in their community who they knew and admired and who understood their vision. A vision bridging the gap for people who want to relive their prime, while connecting with the present culture of streetwear.   

We now are in present day where Patta is a well-respected streetwear brand having collaborated with brands like Nike, ASICS, adidas, Converse, and Reebok. The future of connecting football, hip hop, and streetwear is in good hands if you leave it up to Patta. They’ve been able to connect the dots, while educating all of us on why their designs mean so much. Having a similar background as me, they have personally inspired me to use my experiences, challenges, culture, and dreams to share stories that empower communities and its people. So if you’ve never understood the correlation between the sport of soccer, hip hop and style—Patta is a great place to start.

WSS x KTTP PRESENTS | SHIRTS AND SKINS: DEANDRE YEDLIN

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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.

VINTAGE | A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT CLASSIC FOOTBALL SHIRTS

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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.”

UNBOXING | ADIDAS PREDATOR ARCHIVE PACK

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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.