EXPLORING THE WORK & IMPACT OF DESIGNER CHRISTIAN TRESSER

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Christian Tresser has quite the resumé. A very abbreviated work history reads like this: he started designing footwear with an independent footwear design company that did work for Reebok. He later was hired by Reebok in their heyday when they were seriously threatening Nike; vying to become the top dog in the sneaker game. After a few years at Reebok which included him designing some classic runners and helping to launch Reebok’s football category, he got a job with Nike where he designed a number of iconic silos in both the running and soccer categories. Later he worked as the head of soccer innovation at adidas.

Before he ever picked up a pencil to doodle sneaker designs, Christian was immersed in his first passion, soccer. He can remember wanting to play ever since he was little and as a young man was on the California State Select team. Eventually he played at Foothill College in Northern California for legendary American Soccer figure, George Avakian. In the days of Christian’s soccer career there were not many options to pursue after college. So after a year of playing college soccer Christian decided to enroll at The Academy of Arts in San Francisco. His artistic talent would later be the vehicle for him to connect with football as a designer for performance soccer footwear. 

Christian Tresser has always been ahead of time. As a young designer working at a shoe design consultancy in the Bay Area of California, Christian was designing athleisure shoes, with the Reebok sublabel Boks, before they even had a name for that category of footwear. Later as the lead designer of Reebok’s football product he was incorporating cutting edge technology like Instapump, Graphlite, and carbon fiber foot plates into performance soccer shoes when the entire industry was pushing out virtually the same boots—stitched K leather uppers on rigid plastic sole plates—that they had been producing for decades. Tresser even designed laceless Reebok boots that were worn by players in the 1994 World Cup. 

The innovation and groundbreaking designs didn’t stop with his work at Reebok. After taking a job with Nike, Christian was tasked with designing the first high end synthetic football boot, the game changing Nike Mercurial. The synthetic upper provided a level of freedom for a designer not possible with traditional kangaroo leather which is only available in small hides that had to be stitched together.

“Things changed when it came to the Mercurial. That was the big moment where…soccer footwear changed. Because [of] the synthetic materials you could do a lot more with treatments on those materials than you can with…natural leathers. So it opened the door for design possibilities. Most of the soccer shoes leading up to that point were cut and sew…Weirdly enough the low end shoes were all synthetic. They were all synthetic and they had way more [options]. You could mold onto it, you could HF(high frequency) weld onto it, you could add color, you could print on it. 

“It was sort of a weird moment because when we did the Mercurial I was conflicted with it, in that we always did soccer shoes out of K leather or leathers and those are high end shoes. And the low [price point] shoes were all synthetic—it was a low end thing…When the Mercurial came along and they wanted to do this synthetic shoe at a [high end price point] I was conflicted as a player. I was like, ‘O, God, I’m not sure if that’s gonna work,’ because synthetics didn’t really have…the fit and feel that K leather would and I didn’t know if the players would accept it. But as a designer I was really open to the idea because it allowed me to more expressive.”

Taking a departure from traditional football boots Tresser designed the Mercurial from a single piece of material.

“When I realized…I could do that then I could think about adding more design element to it. And one of my ideas—and this [goes back to when] I worked at my dad’s [auto] body shop—I wanted to put a little bit of a light textural grip on the upper. And I had this idea that I could spray on, and I did, the material that you would spray on the under side of cars…So I took this upper and I taped…off the areas, and the pattern didn’t even change from [the] sample that I [made] to what came out in the market that…literally…didn’t change. So where you see the silver…3M reflective…on the Mercurial…originally I sprayed that with the [textured] spray material…And then I took a silver pen. I needed to highlight it because I wanted to show it off and I wanted it reflective because I wanted the cameras to see it…[when] there was a moment that light would hit it and it would show it off…in a very…clean and subtle way.” 

At the same time Christian was experimenting with his high end synthetic boot Nike was setting up there now legendary facility in Montebelluna, Italy where they to this day craft all of their high performance soccer footwear. He hand carried his sample to the Italian factory and shared his vision for the Mercurial. 

“These guys were amazing. They said, ‘okay we know what to do.’ And ultimately what we did is we took that upper…to the Aprilia factory somewhere in and around Montebelluna…to go look at this spraying process…We went over there and they showed us some of the motorcycle parts in the factory line and the showed me this spraying stuff and ultimately [we used] this clear spray…a very thin, light…material that was sprayed on to the synthetic. And when the shoes came back they were just beautiful, man. It was a new thing. It was totally new…I couldn’t even believe it myself…how great it came out.”

Even though Christian is complicit in changing the landscape of soccer footwear forever it wasn’t something he did intentionally.

“I don’t think too much ahead of myself at all. I do have a strange vision, that somehow…works for me. I start to create, and I go on a creative journey and I don’t think too much about what the future is and what it is going to be. I only get in the moment, what is inspiring me. The first Mercurial is that moment that changed it. I didn’t know it would do that, but it did…and that’s pretty cool. Where it goes from here, I don’t know, I just don’t. I don’t have that answer, I do know that I can do it.”

With all of the incredible work Christian has done up until this point there is no reason to doubt that he will continue to shape the future of footwear. Besides almost single handedly designing the entire Reebok football range, including signature boots for Ryan Giggs, and creating the some of the most iconic boots in Nike’s catalogue; Christian has also left an indelible mark on the sneaker game. In his time at Reebok Tresser was responsible for the Aztrek and DMX Daytona runners which have both been revisited with retro editions recently. 

In his five to six months working as a designer in the runner space at Nike he produced nothing but classic. To name a few he designed the Footscape, the Spiridon, and what is perhaps his most widely known and beloved silhouette, the Air Max 97. His work is still as impactful today as it has ever been. You can always find a Tresser silo, that he designed in the 90s, on a shelf at any sneaker shop today. 

The former youth standout soccer player and designer responsible for some of the most iconic sneakers ever, has now seen the worlds of football and sneakers blend. Two worlds where he made such an enormous impact are now more intertwined than ever. From the custom Air Max 97s designed for Cristiano Ronaldo to the Air Max 97 Mercurials released on Air Max day in 2017 Christian continues to be relevant to the culture in new and unexpected ways. 

“I saw that and I was pretty blown away. The two worlds, the parallel paths are really starting to blend into each other…My nephew, who’s a soccer player, got a pair of those and was so excited to share those with me.”

Kicks to the Pitch, an outlet dedicated to the entanglement of sneakers and football, would probably not even exist if not for the work of Christian Tresser. His design DNA is in everything we talk about. His work and elements of his designs continually pop up both in the football space and the lifestyle space.

“I stay humble in it…I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t think it was cool. I don’t know, it’s flattering I guess, to have something I did so long ago still [be] relevant. And I get people saying that certain things I’ve done have been impactful in their lives. And I didn’t really think [of] it back then and it’s cool but it’s also scary at the same time…it’s like, wow, I guess I did do a little damage in the industry.”

THE INSPIRATION BEHIND BEKCHAM’S FLASHY NEW CLUB

Neon lights, banging beats, party people and little sleep; some of the many things that typify the legendary city of Miami. Despite the often care-free, show-up late attitude of this South Florida community (the 2013 NBA Finals… yeah we’re still laughing), Miami is also a major sports city. From the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins and legendary quarterback Dan Marino to showcasing LeBron James in his back-to-back reign of terrorizing the league, Miami has given the nation timeless moments in the ether of sports history.

Enter David Beckham, a sportsman and cultural icon in himself. Having long sought his stamp on the managerial side of soccer, Becks has finally been granted Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, the newest expansion team to the MLS. Inter Miami C.F. for short, already has the internet trolling, but aside from the name, which yes, could be slightly more creative, the design and inspiration is on point.

Going back and forth over what truly embodies Miami, Beckham aimed to represent the great Southern American influence that has come to embody the city. Though minimal in its presentation, each element in the crest reflects a different but unifying aspect; for example, the herons who are both inhabitants of the city and animals that migrate from Alaska as far as the coasts of Brazil, represent the many migrant communities that have made Miami their own. The eclipse in the middle showcases the day-and-night attitude that is ever-present throughout the city along with the ring around the crest that brings together the city’s inclusive nature. To cap it off, the pink and black color palette reflects the pristine views of Miami’s iconic sunrises.

Designed by DoubleDay and Cartwright’s Kimou Meyer (aka Grotesk), the club badge
beautifully blends Miami’s cultural pastiche in a clean graphic direction that serves as a great step forward for the rest of the MLS to follow. No stranger to the world of sports, Grotesk operates the vastly popular Victory Journal and states that the design process for Inter Miami took a long three years to bring into fruition.

THE BEST LIFESTYLE X SOCCER FASHION COLLABS

We as soccer fans will take anything that draws positive and unique attention to the game, especially attention from those who may connect with fashion but need another outlet to love soccer. Collaborations between brands can open doors for new and exciting products in the fashion world, and collaborations in soccer fashion have taken the game to new heights, and perhaps, more importantly, has expanded fanbases.

Here is a list of some highlights of projects that stood out in recent years. Though I was going to rank them, that became far too difficult. So instead we can just appreciate each for its unique contribution.

LEVI’S X LIVERPOOL FC:

Levi’s recently teamed up with Liverpool FC to add subtle twists on old Levi classics. At the heart of the collection is the 511 slim fit jeans with a twist. The iconic back patch got an upgrade to Liverpool red and this is probably the most noticeable change of all the pieces. My personal favorite is the Sherpa trucker jacket with a small “You’ll Never Walk Alone” hang tag at the base of the neck collar. The entire collection screams classic minimalist – something Levi Strauss Company has built a successful brand around.


SOPHNET. x NIKE:

SOPHNET, the Japanese Streetwear brand, partnered with Nike to create FC Real Bristol. Real Bristol is one of the first imaginary soccer clubs with its own clothing line. The line, since its first drop in 1999, has grown to be quite extensive with over 1,000 items for sale on their website. FC Real Bristol was one of the first of its kind and headlined the imaginary club with “fans” being buyers of the product. Being so new and innovative, it was easy to appreciate.


SUPREME x UMBRO:

Would any collaboration conversation be complete without headmaster Supreme? Before you groan, let’s check out the Umbro and Supreme mashup from 2005. You know… prior to the small logo on a Hanes white T-shirt days. An NYC skateboard label and one of the most prominent soccer brands of all time – two powerhouses to say the least. In 2005, soccer wasn’t exactly on America’s radar but Supreme confirmed (yet again) that they can work with anyone.


YOHJI YAMAMOTO X ADIDAS FOR REAL MADRID:

Probably the most badass idea of all, Yohji Yamamoto, a fashion icon of Japanese streetwear who spearheaded adidas’ Y3 line, designed jerseys for Real Madrid. Prior to this release, there were multiple fashion designers working for soccer clubs but their products stopped at the locker room with sweat suits and club shirts; Yohji’s made it on to the pitch. The kit features a slate grey half bird-half dragon over a black silhouette. Likely the easiest kit to transition from pitch to streetwear.


VIRGIL ABLOH’S OOFF WHITE x NIKE

Rounding out the list with arguably the most prominent fashion collaboration is Virgil Abloh’s “Off White” with Nike. Simply put, taking on a major brand like Nike and recreating over 10 classic silhouettes is a beast in itself. Bring that into the soccer realm and you’ve got streetwear-meets soccer-meets the mainstream audience. Pretty bold move if you ask me. Virgil ran with it and the “Off White” theme has exploded. From foams to Airmaxes and Jordans, to the Mercurial Vapor 360, the signature quotation marks have taken over their own piece of Nike’s dynasty. A collaboration list wouldn’t be complete without it.

HERE FOR THE COMMENTS: UMBRO FOR JAMAICA

I think we can all agree that a great look for Jamaica had been a long time coming. Yes, the Jamaican bobsled team from Cool Runnings had a memorable look, but at least in the world of soccer, I believe most people would point back to the 1998 Kappa World Cup jersey as the last time the Caribbean island nation gave us a kit to talk about. This, however, is now a thing of the past as Umbro’s brand new home and away options for Jamaica left me dumbfounded when I first laid eyes on them. While I could talk about everything that’s great about these kits, as usual, I thought I should switch it up a bit and extend the dialogue we’re going to have about Jamaica’s new look by sharing some of the comments I have gathered throughout various Instagram pages.

It is obvious Umbro’s effort has received overwhelming approval. No comment can be more reflective of this support than the one below:

spencer_loop: “Usain bolt about to play”

I can’t disagree with this comment. The kits make me want to play for Jamaica and I am not even Jamaican. Additionally, I love these kits so much that I see myself outrunning the fastest man on Earth in order to get them.

Both kits are exceptional, but some people have already chosen their favorite.

guerrilla_fc: “that away kit is 🔥”

Guerrilla FC expressed a very common opinion on social media. By far, Jamaica’s away kit steals the show with its unique graphic print across the lower portion of the jersey. The home kit, however, is still a solid option as it too has some distinct features. What I love most about the home look is the taping on the sleeves which combines the Umbro diamonds with a prominent feature of the Jamaican flag. This is a perfect blend of both brand and country and you get something that is easily identifiable as both Umbro and Jamaica – something that’s pretty rare to see nowadays.

Some people though are more modest with their approval.

yungrichard:_ “kits lowkey heat 🔥🔥🔥”

@yungrichard_ writes the biggest understatement about these kits. There is nothing lowkey about them. If anything his comment should have read that these kits are highkey heat.

From this, you move on to the people who already have these kits among the best of the year.

brxxxck: “Way hotter than the Nigeria 🇳🇬 kits at the WC.”

Okay so this comment is certainly up for debate, but I do not think @brxxxck is wrong when saying this. If there is one thing that Jamaica’s kits have going for them that the Nigeria kit does not, it is that Umbro has devised truly original looks that are not inspired by previous designs.

Did I say people really love these kits?

alistairslack: “They are so peng”

Okay so this comment is one I was initially confused by but I assumed it just had to be good. One quick Google search later and I found out I was right.

Still, not everyone will be a fan.

liam_mclachlan113: Possibly one of the ugliest kits I’ve ever seen

Yes, this comment left me the most confused of all. It’s not a very popular opinion whatsoever either. I don’t agree with it, but I am sure @liam_mclachlan113 will see the error of his way eventually.

On that note, I welcome everyone that may either hate or appreciate these kits to share their own comments with us below!

ANOTHER NIKE CLASSIC WITH THE PREMIER II SALA

Unlike any other major sport, Soccer and by extension futsal, share a symbiotic relationship with street fashion. Shirt, shorts, shoes…simple really. It only makes sense then; that what we often see on the pitch and court is what we continue to rock off it. To focus on the latter, Nike has hit yet again with another indoor classic, the Premier II Sala collection.

Continuing a tradition of timelessly clean boots, Nike keeps it classy yet functionally forward with this latest release. Starting with color: the shoe comes in a clean “Desert Sand” and “Midnight Navy”, to which would virtually complement any fit. As for comfort, the shoes upper is rugged and sturdy, built for the countless courts it will be played on worldwide, and features lightweight mesh alongside supple suede accents. To bring it together, Nike has instilled its Lunarlon technology, a soft and durable foam core base that’s both lightweight and resilient.

The Nike Premier II Sala Collection arrives at an interesting time, as fashion is hearkening back to the many styles seen throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. Baggy pants, eccentric shades, flashy color palettes, and oversized tops are but a few of the trends currently dominating the street landscape to where we’ve seen other sportswear giants, such as adidas, dropping its own set of historical and modern kicks with the recent release of the Predator Accelerator TR Ultraboost and forward thinking Sobakov.

Like its German counterpart, Nike also pays its homage to its past by blending the right amount of history with just the right amount of modern technology, where the shoes just feel right and will feel right for a very long time.

Images from soccerbible.com

ONCE KILLING THE KIT GAME, KAPPA IS NOW AN ICON

Kappa is, without doubt, a brand that is coming back into the mainstream in terms of fashion, but for those that are more familiar with its lifestyle offerings, the long-standing brand was once producing absolute fire soccer kits back in the day.

They’re still producing kits today for teams like Napoli and Torino, but reflecting on the history of the brand, some of their kits were beautiful and are now icons. Teams like Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester City have all donned the Kappa logo on their shirts, with these kits filling up numerous spaces on my wishlist and it goes down to pure aesthetics.

Maybe it’s my very deep inner Hypebeast coming out, or maybe it’s my nostalgic side (most likely the latter), but the Kappa shirts from the ’90s are incredible. The Kappa logo running down the sleeves, the collars and the pure class designs on them just make me fall in love with every shirt. Look at Barcelona’s kits from ’92 to’98 – they’re stupendous. And seeing a player like the Ronaldo wearing these sorts of kits just makes me fall in love with them even more.

Now, the kits that the brand is currently offering us are truly a fall from grace. Albeit, they’ve done some adequate kits over the recent years that have impressed various kit nerds but for me, they’ve plummeted from what they were once producing. That isn’t a dig at the brand, it’s just a personal preference on kits and it highlights just how good their ’90s kits were.

Soccer kit’s have a 20-year turnaround – normally. A kit will become ‘fashionable’ due to trends wanting classic/vintage items circa 20 years on. Kappa is a brand that is becoming popular again and I see more and more people wearing it, including myself. Alongside this, the sub-culture of soccer is becoming increasingly mainstream and shirts can now be seen as a fashion item rather than the team you support. ’90s Kappa shirts suit this perfectly. Their shirts can be sought after by collectors but also by the fashion conscious. We’ve even seen superstar Kendall Jenner wearing a vintage Juventus Kappa jacket before, and this is substantial evidence that vintage Kappa football items are for much more than just your average soccer fan – a Fact… Apparently.

Kappa: A delightful brand that was once killing the kit game and one that has now seen its shirts become more popular with kits due to the nostalgic and vintage trends. Kappa is an icon. Respect them.

A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO THE DESIGN OF THE MAGISTA

I never wore the Magista as a cleat, but I did regularly wear the Footscape sneaker version. I probably can’t give you a good look into what it is like to wear the Magista from a performance point of view, but from an aesthetic and whatever Nike told us about technology view? I gotcha.

The Magista came about in 2014 and they revolutionized the game. Launched by Iniesta, the first-gen Magista featured the sock-like collar alongside a FlyKnit upper that we see on so many boots today. It wasn’t just the technology that I loved about the Magista; it was mainly the look of it. A beautiful design with so many colorways being released over the years since its inception.

A whole 26 colorways of the first-gen Magista were released and there wasn’t many I disliked. The whole look was intriguing, with the upper and base colors supporting an underlying color in a net-like design. This offered a delightful look, with the chance to combine some wonderful additional colors. We’ve seen turquoise combined with orange, which surprisingly worked and became one of my favorite releases of the silhouette. The Magista seemed to be a representation of the expression of creativity, both on and off the pitch. This is why all the magicians of the game wore it, from Andres Iniesta to Kevin De Bruyne, to Mario Götze (who scored the 2014 World Cup-winning goal in a pair of these).

Where it became cooler, was the Magista Obra II. An interesting development from Nike in terms of tech and aesthetic. The first release of the second-gen was a delightful but weird release. The colorway was a direct replication from a heat map which highlighted where a player would make contact with the ball the most. Not only did the colorway feature this design, the boot’s shape, and texture were also designed with what the player’s foot would be like if its sole purpose was to be playing soccer. As a boot aficionado, a release like this had me hooked on the Magista Obra II, and to be honest, I loved many of the Obra II colorways.

Now, all that being said, with the recent release of the Phantom by Nike, the Magista dies. A sad time indeed, as the now legendary-in-my-books Magista was built for intelligence and creativity – by intelligence and creativity. It was – and still is – an intriguing boot, especially the second-gen. it’s a wonderful addition to soccer’s footwear market, and despite never wearing it during a game, I loved it. Happy retirement.

WOULD YOU WEAR YOUR FAV ALBUM AS A SOCCER JERSEY?

Well, if you’re a fan of both music and soccer then we can safely assume your answer would be yes, right? The concept of taking your favorite album’s artwork and turning that into a soccer jersey begs the question of why it’s never been done before. Well, thanks to graphic designer Nick Texeira, we now have a good reason to push this design notion into reality, as his reimagining of some of today’s most popular music album artwork into kits proves just how amazing this idea can be.

Texeira’s concept artwork seen here focuses mainly on popular hip-hop albums, which he has turned into the designs for an array of global team kits, as well as throwing in his own choice of sponsored branding. This includes such mashups as A$AP Rocky’s Testing with Chelsea FC; Post Malone’s Stoney with FC Barcelona, Migos’ Culture II with Atlanta United FC; Drake’s Scorpion with Toronto FC; and Young Thug’s Slime Language with LAFC and more, not to mention other types of concept kits on Texeira’s Instagram account. Have a look at the designs Nick Texeira has put together, as well as his official website, then leave us a comment on what album x soccer jersey you would want to wear.

BBC GOES OUT OF THIS WORLD FOR ITS WC-INSPIRED CAPSULE

Although this year’s World Cup is far behind us, that doesn’t mean we need to forget and move on from the one-in-every-four year event. In fact, all the better to remember its impact to help spur on more culture surrounding the sport. Especially out here in the States, given that we, along with our neighbors Mexico and Canada, will be hosting the global tournament in 2026 following Qatar for 2022 (the first Arab state to host the World Cup). To help keep our soccer spirits up, up and away, we have Billionaire Boys Club: the fashion brand/retailer and brainchild of both Pharrell Williams and BAPE founder NIGO.

For its Summer 2018 NYC-exclusive capsule collection, the premium streetwear label has delivered a vibrant and whimsical array of athletic pieces inspired by the recently passed World Cup. The drop includes a range of silhouettes, from player jerseys to goalie long-sleeves, warm-up suits, short and more. The main attraction for the collection as a whole, however, is it’s diverse and fun designs that features tie-dye, camo, and classic soccer stripes patterning, as well as BBC’s classic space-centric motifs. Details include “7 Mercer” and “212” notes that nods to the brand’s NYC flagship.

To showcase the pieces in use, courtesy of the kind people at Billionaire Boys Club, we decided to explore our own urban landscape for the setting of our original fashion editorial, which you can see throughout. The pieces are currently available at BBC’s NYC flagship store, so be sure to stop by if you’re in the area:

BBC Flagship Store
7 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

SHOWING OUT WITH THE LATEST ‘CLEATS UP CLUB’ DROP

This week we hit up the eastside of the LBC to let you know exactly what else is up with the 213. Already this year, the guys over at lifestyle brand and boutique, Port, might have caught your attention with their stellar collab with the LA Galaxy. Now looking towards the fall season, Port sticks with the soccer lifestyle theme by way of their offshoot brand, Cleats Up Club.

Cleats Up Club describes itself as a tribute “to those who live in Sunday leagues and show up to the pub battered and bruised.” The ethos of the brand is in its very name, which to me takes on more than one meaning that perhaps perfectly demonstrates the multifaceted nature of this up-and-coming Long Beach brand. On one level, I take the term as a reference to those players who simply just can’t hang the cleats up. Its more literal meaning, however, is obviously its reference to the reckless challenge in soccer characteristic of those very players who take it a bit too far and let their passion and emotion for the game get the best of them.

Paradoxically, the brand proves to be more fine-tuned than all this overdose of emotion it takes inspiration from. In fact, were it not for its very name which pops up throughout the collection, it would be difficult to isolate Cleats Up Club as a sport-inspired brand. This, however, is the true beauty of Cleats Up Club as the decision to be less literal with its soccer heritage and spirit is what allows the brand to stand apart from all others out there.

For this time around, Cleats Up Club puts forth an expansive collection that showcases its signature minimalistic aesthetic. Limited to white and black pieces with a skull graphic motif, the offering is reminiscent of biker club attire which makes more than perfect sense for a brand directly inspired by classic American style. Ironically despite the recurring skull imagery, the whole collection has this unassuming bravado which works in perfect balance to highlight the quality, craftsmanship, and utmost attention to detail Cleats Up Club prides itself on.

As the styling and imagery of its lookbook demonstrate, the Cleats Up collection is a more mature and sophisticated soccer lifestyle offering. As such, the brand gives us no reason to hang our cleats up as through it we have something that transcends the Sunday leagues as well as our love for the game.

The collection is truly something we can take with us everywhere we go so make sure to pick up your favorite pieces here.

Photographers: @carlosquinterosjr and @derekwood
Brand Development: @portlbc (Jim Leatherman) – @ant.info (Anthony Fernandez) – @mandopalacios_ (Mando Palacios)