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.

THE ASSOCIATION SEASON 2 | FUTSAL MEETS LIFESTYLE

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We live in a beautiful time where soccer and culture are overlapping more than ever. The unique ethos of the beautiful game and everything that surrounds it continues to evolve with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives shaping its culture and helping it grow. 

There is no better example of the collision of soccer and culture than the Los Angeles based soccer league, The Association. Born out of a desire to grow the sport through culture, The Association blends the best of music, art, and fashion with some of LA’s best brands and most influential social media personalities.

Started in 2018, the goal of The Association was to create the most dynamic and interesting soccer league in the United States. A league that wasn’t based solely on the competitiveness on the pitch but the culture and the people vying to make soccer more than just a game but a culturally diverse movement. The Association has become a hub for LA’s creative community that also happens to have a deep love for the beautiful game.

In the second installment of the league, The Association has brought back six original teams from season one (Beats by Dre, Complex, SpaceX, 424 on Fairfax, Niky’s Sports and Dash Radio) and added two new teams for season two (ShoeSurgeon and Guess). These brands represent some of the best that LA has to offer in terms of tech, fashion, media, music, and retail. And as diverse as the teams are, each of them shares a deep love for soccer, the culture and they all have a desire to help grow the sport not only in Los Angeles but across the US.

Each team in the league is given the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and design one of a kind kits that can only be seen on Association game nights—custom made kits by SpaceX, The Shoe Surgeon, 424, Guess and other paragons in their fields. These uniforms have helped drive the story around creativity within the league and pushed the boundaries of what a soccer league looks like.

The Association is truly an example of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The teams, players and kits are just a part of the story. Each game night is designed to give fans and players an experience that goes above and beyond the games. Through partners adidas, el Jimador, and Kona fans are treated to the incredible music from resident DJ Kappa as well as free tacos, tequila, and beer.

For more hands-on experiences, FutPool provides a novel soccer-meets-billiards competition. There are also FIFA video game stations onsite.

In addition to the music, the food, and the drinks, each game night features a unique activation. In the spirit of competition, season two includes a number of exclusive battles including a live art battle curated by Secret Walls, a barber battle featuring some of LA’s flyest barber shops, and a B-Boy battle that brought back serious 1980s breakdancing vibes. With three weeks left of season two and the playoffs beginning this week, The Association team has a few more tricks up its sleeves for the final activations.

The Association is a celebration of soccer and the culture that it inspires. The goal of the league has always been to elevate the sport for existing fans and use culture as a bridge to new fans.

Season two of The Association has three weeks left. If you are in Los Angeles on a Thursday night between now and June 13th, stop by for a drink. Eat a taco. Watch some incredible games and connect with the beautiful community that we are all a part of.

The Association

Thursday nights from 8pm-11pm The Base LA

352 N. Ave 21

Los Angeles, CA 90032

Entry is free and The Association is open to all ages.

THE JUMPMAN ON THE PITCH

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About six months ago I wrote a piece on the website where I stated that lifestyle and soccer had come to a peak with the collaboration of PSG and the Jordan Brand. When I first learned about the range, I was just a fanboy searching through all the press releases and images of the collection online and getting my wallet ready to buy the entire collection. The collection that represented, so perfectly, everything that we’ve been talking about at KTTP for the past four years. 

At that time it was a far-fetched notion of mine to shoot the iconic collection in action on the pitch. But just like a lot of my great notions in recent years, far-fetched isn’t always so far off. On the back of 2 and a half weeks of bouncing around cities in the UK and Europe fate would have it that PSG and Man U were meeting in the Champions League at the same time we were in Paris. 

The football gods smiled on me and the far-fetched idea became reality. I was blessed with the opportunity to shoot the second leg of PSG’s Champions League quarterfinal with Manchester United in Paris. The stage was set, and thanks to the homies at PSG, my photographer credential was set as well. 

The day before the match, I visited the PSG training facility to shoot the first 15 minutes of training. I got an up-close look at the training outfits. Bold red mixed with black pants spoke to that iconic “BRED” colorway that Jordan Brand has made infamous. Mbappe broke out the special edition Jordan Vapors. In the corner of the trainging ground stood two basketball hoops next to a soccer goal, painting a quite literal picture of the combination of two worlds. 

On match day the energy was buzzing from the streets to the metro, this was no ordinary day. One thing that was different for me, was waiting until the evening for the match to start. In the US I’m accustomed to watching Champions League matches at lunchtime. That wait intensified my anticipation. The combination of it being my first Champions League match (as a photographer and/or spectator), my first match at Parc des Princes, the significance of the match, and the thought that this far-fetched drea, was actually happening made for a few nerves. And then it rained and continued to rain pretty much the entire match. 

The rain set a unique frame for a match that held such significance. And while the result didn’t have PSG shining in the end, the Jumpman on the pitch definitely did. It wasn’t just the kits during the match. From the aforementioned “BRED” warmup/training fits to the all black coaching gear to bright white Flyknit pregame track tops to seeing fans rock both the home and the away kits in the stands (I didn’t see anyone with my coaches jacket though)–it was evident Jordan Brand and PSG came correct on all levels with this one. I even got a bonus snap of a fellow photographers fire on feet with his Jordan 1s. 

Of course, the black “home” kits did not disappoint visually on the pitch. Whether it was the whole team huddled together in moments like the team photo and celebrating the first goal or an individual player coming over to the corner flag to take a corner, the black kits with white the Jumpman showed out. No lie, every time I put my camera to my eye I said to myself, “man those kits look good.” Down to the Jumpman over “Paris” on the socks, all the little details of this kit just work.

One thing I did notice was missing, was the Jumpman on the feet of Mbappe. Now, I know this was probably due to some contractual obligations and what not, but still, a match of this level and a player of Mbappe’s level, you want the potential man of the night rocking the Jumpman on feet. Regardless of that omission (and of course the outcome of the match),  photographing the Jumpman on the pitch was well worth it. Jordan Brand set the bar high for themselves with this one, we are all waiting for next season. Too soon, too soon, I know.

WORLD SOCCER SHOP x KTTP PRESENTS | KIT STORIES: BEN CHI

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Kits Stories is a series in which we tell the uniques stories of individuals through the kits that have made an impact on their lives. This first installment of Kit Sotires features Ben Chi, the Manager of Brand and Community for LAFC, founder of the dope soccer lifestyle brand FC Dorsum and member of the KTTP family. Ben helped KTTP get off the ground and was integral in the vision of KTTP coming to life. Through the story of his kits we got to know more about where his passion for kits started and how he turned his passion for the beautiful game into a career.