CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS WITH JASON THE JEWELER

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Bling has long been a nouveau-riche term reserved for the necks, wrists, and pinky fingers of the elite American athlete or musician. However, with IG influence increasingly molding global taste, the style of the rich and famous around the world are beginning to blend.

Enter Jason of Beverly Hills, the LA-based jeweler known for his penchant for high-end clientele: namely the starlets of European football. His work and friendship with players such as Didier Drogba, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Antoine Griezmann have made him a known commodity in the beautiful game.

From the jump, it’s clear that Jason’s connection and comfort around American sports celebrities allowed the football stars of Europe the comfort to start a relationship. 

“In the United States, we service over 300 professional athletes from American football, basketball, hockey, baseball…What happens is a lot of the guys, even 15 years ago when we started, would come here to either play friendlies or they would come to the United States to vacation in the offseason. A lot of guys would come out here just to party and have fun.”

2003 – His first client: Didier Drogba. 

“He came to us then and he had purchased some items from us and was really excited and felt like, listen, ‘we don’t have a lot of jewelers that are back in the UK that sell the type of merchandise you do and the type of custom work that you do. It’s a little bit more of you pick out of a showcase and things like that.’” 

From icing out one of the great strikers in modern Premier League history, Jason’s contact list would explode: Boateng brothers, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezman. In the last 10 years the family tree of Jason of Beverly Hills would expand the entire European continent.

Jason talks with excitement as he recalls visiting the training grounds of AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City for a private session with players on the respective teams. 

“We oftentimes know the captain of the team and they’ll set it up so we can meet some of the other players. It’s a small knit community just like it is with American sports, so that once you kind of get into the circle and earn their trust, they definitely refer you to friends.”

With social media growing in influence for both the average Joe as well as the €500,000/week athlete, Jason notes that the trends and style of Europe and America were becoming one and the same. He’s quick to point out that European players prior to social media picked up on American style cues from actually seeing the nightlife themselves. 

“So guys in Europe, they get to know what’s hot here in the States a lot quicker in real-time, whereas before they would have to actually travel here. Get in the scene. Go out at night. See what people are wearing. Now it’s instantaneous.” 

The jewelry game for those who can afford it changed beyond recognition. 

“So they could be sitting at home between practice or before a game and they scroll through their Instagram and they’ll see what the newest, hottest fashion is here in the States….The information is transmitted in real time.”

Historical differences between the athletes of Europe and America were rooted in old-world definitions of luxury.

 “Europeans were typically a lot more conservative, weren’t as flashy. Not only just the jewelry but their overall dress was so different than American athletes.”

Interestingly enough as the American celebrity began to adopt more European luxury into their wardrobe: Gucci, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, sartorial rules around jewelry shifted dramatically towards the style of the American athlete. The global culture was taking root in both brains. 

Take French talisman, Antoine Griezmann. Even as one of the flashier icons in the game today, Griezmann’s custom “Fortnite” chain made waves. It’s a wave that Jason himself helped create.

“The most fun pieces are the ones that really capture someone’s identity, what they love. Antoine Griezmann came to me and he said ‘Listen, I want to do something different. I love Fortnite. I play it all the time. I want to do a Fortnite character.’ He fell in love with the character doing ‘the loser dance’ because he felt like, ‘That’s what I want to do every single time we win on the pitch.’ So we brought that to life and did a little black diamond and green emerald Fortnite pendant.”

Another American tradition readily adopted by the European players is the championship ring. Jason had created the championship rings for the Lakers which caught the interest of a certain Didier Drogba. 

“When Chelsea won the Champions League Didier Drogba had called us up and said he was such a fan of the Laker rings that we did that he’s like, “I want to be able to do something special along with the team for all the players, the trainers, and the coaches.” So we designed a ring that he approved along with some of the other players, flew over to London and we did this big gala for all the players and the team officials to attend and each player and the coach and training staff was awarded a championship ring to celebrate their Champions League victory.” 

The gesture would be repeated by Griezmann to celebrate Atletico Madrid’s La Liga victory. It made some of the old European guard squirm—the idea that high profile European footballers would practice such an American tradition. Jason’s proximity to the players gives him a different perspective.

“It’s the story behind the actual ring and what it signifies. It’s funny because I feel like the players appreciate it more than anyone and this has all been driven by the players…To see the look in their eyes when we’re presenting the rings, it means the world to them. Even if they’re not a flashy person, it’s more of a memento or trophy that they put in their house, that it kind of memorializes and pays tribute to the championship they won.”

Surprisingly enough all of Jason’s jewelry for footballers have been for the athletes abroad. With global style culture swaying back and forth between the Europe and US, he feels like he’s got a good shot of making some celebratory ice for an American team as obsessed with Americana as the stars of Europe.

 

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.

KTTP RADIO EP. 55 | GUERIILLA FC, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE & BVB

After a two week hiatus Drew chats with founder of Guerrilla FC’s Justin Salhani on the inspiration behind his brand, his thoughts on the World Cup kits, and the ever evolving blend of fashion and lifestyle with the beautiful game. He critiques designs, praises others, and predicts who takes it all in the World Cup this year. The guys also reflect on a multifaceted soccer culture that exists today, the praise it is receiving in the fashion world, and how far branding has come in recent years. Whether you like the boots, the kits, or the lifestyle, the game can reach anyone on any level.

We also recap the rise and fall of Liverpool in the Champions League Final (poor Karius), his opinion on Sergio Ramos’s controversial tackle on Mo Sallah, and what Zidane’s resignation means for Real Madrid moving forward. He also touches on the Dortmund vs. LAFC match that happened here in LA praising the class and respect of the Dortmund players.

You can check it all out below including some photos of Guerrilla FC’s recent releases:

THIS WEEKS IG BEST 11

On Champions League eve it makes sense for headlines to be dominated by the Super Bowl of soccer. As such we highlight  Emilo Sansolini’s Simpson’s style piece while Voyeurs FC shows us some weird Real Madrid video game art. adidas dropped the ultra-light/built-for sped X18 and Jerome Boateng flexed in the Nike x Off White collab as he looks ahead to the World Cup. Elsewhere Mbappe rocks some fresh new Skepta Air Max’s and JuJu Shuster challenges lil Tay to a “Flex Off” while rocking a crispy white LAFC kit. Here is this weeks Instagram Best 11.

#DREAMGIRL #REALMADRID #VOYEURSFC 💁🏻⚽️

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Tomorrow! #RealMadrid vs #Liverpool – #ChampionsLeague

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Clairefontaine 👍🏽😃 @equipedefrance

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He’s N luv with the ATL 😉 @tpain

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"GETTING READY" for the World Cup Shoutout to my man @virgilabloh 🙌🏾 #Werbung

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SCOUTING REPORT: LET’S TALK BARCELONA & PSG

Aren’t we tired of talking about Real Madrid and the Champions League finals? Finally, Liverpool gets some of the UCL spotlight that has been dominated by Los Blancos for the past three seasons. Being a Barcelona fan myself, this weekend’s final is not something I am looking forward to. Of course I want Liverpool to snatch it from Madrid, but considering my bad luck in sports this year, I have a feeling the boys in white are going to win it again and I’m going to avoid all soccer forums until the World Cup – I don’t like facing the truth. And being a bitter Barcelona fan, I want to steal the big spotlight from these two teams, especially Madrid, at least for the length of this article. For this week’s Scouting Report, I’ll be covering Nivelcrack’s most recent release of their half-zip pullovers inspired by the colors of Barcelona and PSG.

Overall Design: The design of the two pieces are simple and clean. No graphics are integrated, but the main colors of each club were used to show the inspiration behind each piece. The colors of FC Barcelona are blue and red, which is also why they are known as the Blaugrana meaning blue and deep red in Catalan. The colors of PSG are blue, red, and white, hence the name of the piece is “Tricolor” after the three signature colors of the Parisian club. This is a contrast from the rest of Nivelcrack’s SS18 collection as most pieces from that collection were graphic-heavy. The structure of the pullover featuring the half-zip up to the neck is also a great look in my opinion, where it definitely has its roots in soccer.

Score: 4/5

Functionality: These pullovers are made from 100% polyester and yes you certainly can play on the pitch with these, and I actually recommend it as I’ve done so myself! The quality on these is up there with other tracksuits and tops from other major sporting apparel companies. The reason why tracksuits and athletic tops like these became a fashion trend was not just for its looks, but also how comfortable and practical they were for daily wear. When I first laid my hands on them, they felt rich and thick, but also light enough to not drag you down when you wear them.

Score: 5/5

Uniqueness: When you think of this criteria, you’re looking for something that is different from what’s out there right now in the market. Being a Barcelona fan and maybe from a biased perspective, I had a very positive first impression when I first saw the “Blaugrana” pullover. Not because anything in the design was out of this world, nor because it was something I haven’t seen before, but because it perfectly captured how I would want to represent my club without having to boast about the actual crest of the football club. It had just enough of the Barcelona DNA (shout-out Xavi) for me to want to wear it.

Score: 4/5

Details: The details of both pullovers are in their colors, but not much else. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the point of this release was to have the colors be the focus of the overall design, and I think Nivelcrack played their cards right with this one. This is the only way for us to talk about Barcelona and PSG during this time of the month, and I want to thank these two pieces for giving me an opportunity to snatch some of the spotlight from the Madridistas of what would soon be a terrible weekend for me.

Score: 3/5

You can now purchase the Blaugrana and Tricolore Half-zip Pullovers from RBC for US customers or Nivelcrack.

KTTP RADIO EP. 53 | LAFC HOME OPENER VIBES

This week on KTTP Radio Drew and Anthony discuss movement at Arsenal including Arsene Wegner stepping down and their proverbial implosion against Atletico Madrid. He then previews Champions League going forward including a Liverpool and Roma recap and Liverpool on a roll.

Rich and Drew share the highlights from LAFC’s home opener at Banc of California Stadium against the Seattle Sounders. LAFC won the match 1-0 but the best part was the fandom and the culture beforehand. Take a listen here:

KTTP RADIO EP. 52 WITH TENS CLUB FOUNDER LUCAS SHANKS

This week Drew, Rich and Alex chatted with founder Lucas Shanks about the vision and inspiration behind his brand, TENS CLUB, born from the culture surrounding the No. 10 in football and in life.

Lucas has opened the organic doors of design, drawing concepts from players who wore the number and expanding beyond that to players Shanks liked, and those who went against the grain. Running with a list of topics and things they want to create, the brand releases one item on the tenth of every month, highlighting the overarching theme they felt passionate about.

Check out what Lucas had to say and the rest of the show below, including the LAFC vs. Galaxy recap and Champions League as it stands today. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud so you don’t miss a beat.