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.
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.”
This installment of Female is Football is featuring Ashtin Larkin, a So Cal native that played soccer at the University of West Virginia. We bounced around some iconic spots in Downtown LA with Ashtin. Special thanks to 424 on Fairfax for a couple of the looks with their fresh throwback Hummel collab. Check out the shots and the BTS video below and learn more about Ashtin through our Q&A.
Q: To start, can you tell us where you’re from and what you like most about your home town?
I am from Cerritos, CA born in Torrance. I grew up in Cerritos and I can’t say there is too much great about it haha. We have the Cerritos Auto Square, which is what it is probably best known for. But, as far as location I appreciated the fact that I was in a good middle ground between LA and Orange County and having the ability to grow up and have access to both areas was always convenient.
Q: How did you first get involved with the game of soccer, and what made you fall in love with it?
I actually had a friend introduce me to it in the 1st grade. No one in my family ever played so I knew nothing about it. I grew up as a two-sport athlete playing soccer and basketball and at some point I fell in love with it and knew it was what I wanted to pursue in college. I think I most enjoyed the competition and physicality of the game. I would say my strengths are my low center of gravity and quickness and I think soccer really accentuated things strengths along with my competitive nature. I think I also fell in love with the angles of the game, which sounds weird. It reminds of basketball in the way of angles, but for some reason I see it much more attractively portrayed on the field rather than on a court.
Q: What position did you/do play. Why does that position resonate most with you?
I’ve always played midfield. Depending on the formation I grew up playing outside wing, then moved to attacking mid. In college we played in a 4-3-3 system and I played holding mid, which is a little different because I’m 5’1. Over the years I’ve grown to really appreciate center-mid, whether it be holding or attacking. I am a natural passer so I enjoy distributing the ball and just having an overall view of the field. Although I am not an avid runner, I appreciate the aspect of getting back on defense and then being able to get into the attack. I also am a big communicator so being able to communicate from that position on the field is very advantageous. I also enjoy defense and getting into tackles, so I think the defense mid position is something that over the years I’ve grown to appreciate and really see my best attributes excel. The 6 is my bread and butter 🙂
Q: Are you still playing now? If So where?
I currently still play during the week and on the weekends. During the week I play in an adult co-ed futsal league in LA Urban Futsal, which was originally something fun and different than I wasn’t used to. Now that I am not playing consistently, I really enjoy any indoor or short-sided soccer that gets the ball moving quickly. I also play in a Sunday women’s league. We just show up and play, similar to the Bad News Bears, except we are all ex-collegiate players lol. It’s nice to get outside and just play with girls who know the game and get the outdoor feel every so often.
Q: Got to ask, what are your go-to sneakers?
I recently bought a pair of Flyknit 270’s, which I am a big fan of. They look sleek and they are very comfortable. I wasn’t always a big sneaker person, I was always in sandals and letting my feet breathe since I lived in soccer cleats and basketball shoes lol, but over the years my shoe collection has grown. I like Nikes that are different or just not something that everyone has. I like the style to be a little bit unique, whether it is style or colorway. I try to pick them strategically or if I’m really going to wear them, otherwise I will want way more than I need.
Q: With that, how would you describe your style?
I would definitely say my style is very athleisure. Growing up immersed in sports I really got used to being comfortable at all times, and now I just try to dress that up a bit. I appreciate a good pair of Nikes with a feminine outfit or sweats and a hoodie. I like to get dressed up and wear heels, but it’s definitely not a regular thing. For me, if I can be comfortable and cute then I’ve done the trick. I would also say that my style is minimalistic, like less is more or a pop of color to something plain. I really enjoy fashion and for me being able to put fashion and athletics together whenever I can is a plus.
Q: Different styles and colors of soccer boots are almost as popular as sneakers right now, what are your go to soccer boots?
I’ve always been a Nike vapor girl (typically the men’s styles). I appreciated the sleekness and lightness of the cleat. Over the years the vapor has evolved, which is great because it was always rough when someone stepped on your toes smh. I’ve had multiple colorways in the vapors and at one point I had the gold Ronaldinho R10 cleat, which I really liked.
Q: Do you have a favorite pro team and/or favorite professional player?
I would be lying if I said I had a favorite professional team. I watch foreign soccer occasionally, and I somewhat keep up with the MLS, but I don’t have a favorite team. In regards to players, similar to everyone else I appreciate Ronaldo, Beckham, Messi, and Neymar all the flashy players. But I really enjoy the players that orchestrate and get into the physicality of the game. So like a Michelle Akers and Zinedine Zidane, people that get after it every game and have a little tenacity. I mean similar to a Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, I like the ones that play with a little grit.
Q: Ok, so here is a random question, what are your top three favorite guilty pleasure foods and then the same with music?
My top 3 guilty pleasure foods are chocolate, recently a cupcake with ice cream inside of it (Frosted bakery) and street tacos. When it comes to music I love the old Eminem, sad music when I’m emotional (don’t want to listen to upbeat lol) and any 90s R &B.
Q: What are some of your biggest pet peeves?
Ha, let me think; slow drivers, lying, poor communicators, people who pretend to know it all or know more than they do and messy people.
Q: What personality traits do you admire the most?
I admire people that have a good work ethic and are honest. People that don’t take life too seriously and people with a willingness to step out of their comfort zone and not care what others think.
Q: Talk a little bit about your profession now?
I am currently a Forensic Specialist. I work for a local city and my day to day could be in the lab and evidence processing or out at a crime scene. No two days are the same which I appreciate, but it also challenges me because at each scene you have a completely different experience. It’s something that I was always interested in. I knew I wanted to do something and be hands-on and not work in a lab all day, in regards to chemicals and the science portion. I would say my current job allows me to have a happy medium.
Q: What’s next for you, or what are you working towards.
Right now that’s kind of up in the air and something that I am personally working on. I would love to continue to grow/excel in my field of work and I would love to do/ participate in more things that involve soccer or incorporate soccer more in my life now. My ultimate goal would be to achieve a work-life balance. The ability to pursue a career that I love/enjoy and be able to do things outside of work is the current focus.
Shots by @richimpossible
There is perhaps no one man greater at understanding the passion and intricacies of both soccer and skateboarding culture and their impact on the masses than Sandy Bodecker. When we started this feature, Bodecker was alive. You can imagine our shock when we learned–in the middle of writing this piece–that the legend passed away on October 2nd, 2018 from a battle against throat cancer. Not only does this affect the tone of the piece, inevitably turning it into a homage to his legacy, but more importantly it affects the world of both soccer and skateboarding as a whole.
For those unfamiliar with the Nike veteran, Bodecker was the architect responsible for instigating both the Nike Football and Nike Skateboarding divisions. Through his own passion and deep-rooted understanding of just how important these two sports are within their respective worlds, Bodecker put it best, “if Nike was going to truly be a global sports brand then we had to be great at soccer…It was sort of a cultural imperative.” Knowing his impact on both these worlds, because let’s be honest, Nike dominates when it comes to sports–yes even skateboarding ripe with vital-to-the-culture DIY brands–it becomes our duty to share our interview with the man conducted only weeks prior to his passing.
Going through his answers, it becomes blatantly apparent that Bodecker was the perfect vessel for channeling the importance of spreading both soccer and skateboarding culture to an audience the size of Nike’s. While it is safe to say that both sports ran strong the world over prior to Nike’s involvement, it is equally as notable just how much the brand has influenced and educated the general public since. And while this intro now seems to sound a little like its sponsored by Nike, I’m only emphasizing the scale of Nike’s influence on the two sports to help emphasize just how important Sandy Bodecker was as the man behind the scenes.
But before we delve into what made Bodecker so integral to soccer and skateboarding, it’s worth looking at how he got there. Bodecker’s last position at Nike was its VP of Special Projects, his first was footwear test coordinator when he joined the then running orientated brand back in 1982. Since then, Bodecker has held titles such as VP of Sports Culture, VP of Design, VP of Action Sports and more. Having moved internally throughout the company, Bodecker was able to fully understand, perhaps more than most, what Nike’s ethos stood for. While it’s easier to bring that ethos to the masses, the challenge is bringing what the masses has to say back to the brand. Bodecker was an expert at this. “Sandy aimed to visit a series of local skateshops to listen, learn and hopefully get a chance to inspire the skate industry with a newly reinvented Nike SB Dunk,” Nike states in an article on Nike News last year.
This is what made Bodecker so important to not just Nike, but to the people who followed and appreciated what Nike offered. You’ll be hard pressed to find a true SB Dunk head who doesn’t at least recognize his name. “With its focus on artistic individuality, creative collaboration, and epic limited edition product drops, Nike SB ruled and defined the sneaker game for close to a decade. None of it would have been possible without Sandy’s genuine passion and appreciation for both skateboarding and what would later become known as sneaker culture,” writes Woody from Sneaker Freaker mag in his own homage article.
And then there’s Nike Football, a now world-leading sponsor for the sport with many of its top players under its roster, and a major part of what soccer is within America, with Nike being the sponsor for half of the MLS in its inception. Soccer has been a part of Bodeckers life since even before his formative years, having “played soccer since I was old enough to walk,” he tells us. Bodecker saw just how important soccer was to the world, and if Nike wanted to be the biggest sports brand in the world, it had to get involved with soccer. Bodecker made that happen, and we thank him everyday for it. But not only is he passionate about soccer and skateboarding and having the rare ability to professionally connect the dots within their culture, he’s also a comedable human being. When asked what he would like to see more of in soccer culture, his answer couldn’t have been more dignified, “it would be to become a loud voice of positive social change, whether that’s to fight racism, poverty, classism, environmental challenges.”
With the below interview being perhaps one of his last, we urge you to read through what Sandy Bodecker has to say about the current state of soccer and skateboarding, his thoughts on where both worlds are heading towards, how his time at Nike really looked like, and much more. In addition to our exclusive interview, we also had the privilege of documenting Sandy’s own archive of footwear which you can enjoy below. Sandy, here’s to you, and may you Rest in Power.
Having been with Nike for so many years, you must have seen a lot of development within the brand outside of just running. Talking specifically about soccer, how would you word Nike’s approach towards the beautiful game? What is its ethos behind soccer?
I think the first word I would choose is “committed”… in the same way that we have been committed to running and the entire running community, we do the same with soccer. It starts with being connected to and fully understanding the game at all levels, and continually exploring innovative ways to enable players and teams as the game continues to evolve. Having personally experienced the game on every continent with the exception of Antarctica, you see and feel the passion the world has for the game and we use that passion to help fuel our innovation.
You’ve been integral in pushing soccer culture within Nike. Why was/is this important to you?
I’ve played soccer since I was old enough to walk. My father was Danish and I had as much a European upbringing as American, and being from the east coast (NYC/New England) I played from middle school on in both organized as well as pick-up games. Being aware of the importance of this as the biggest global team sport, if Nike was going to truly be a global sports brand then we had to be great at soccer… It was sort of a cultural imperative.
What do you look to for inspiration when it comes to soccer at Nike?
The inspiration comes from the athletes, the teams, the coaches and of course the fans. They all provide many nuanced layers of inspiration for Nike and me personally. We value their insights to the game and how we can help them perform at the highest level and to meet or exceed their individual or collective potential.
Can you highlight some of the main challenges you’ve found within soccer culture from a global standpoint?
I don’t really view the cultural differences as challenges but more as opportunities to deepen and broaden our understanding and connection to the game. The rich and diverse cultural views and approaches are what make it the “Beautiful Game.”
Being a soccer-orientated media platform, we see a lot of marriage between soccer and other forms of creativity, be it art, music, other sports, etc. What’s been the most obvious marriage for you and why?
I think social media has provided a platform and given a shared voice to athletes and fans. Due to the global nature of the game and the size of the global fan base soccer stars have a bigger social media base than any other sport. This combined with much higher level of outside interests by many of the biggest players and the money they’re making, make it a natural melting pot of the different cultures of art, music, design, entertainment…it’s analogous to basketball in the US but on a global scale. If I had to pick one for soccer, I would pick music as that is the true universal language that has no boarders.
Seeing as we’re enjoying the World Cup right now, is there a country that you’re rooting for? (while we’re passed this period now, we decided to leave this in to keep the interview in its original form)
Well, with the US out, I’m “doubling up.” One side of me is barracking for Denmark (obvious reason) and the other side is for Australia, my adopted home. Not much chance here but I value loyalty.
While the future is hard to predict, where do you see the sport of soccer going in the far future in terms of product innovation?
Soccer like any sport has a unique set of demands and in general players want to do more with less, you couple that with how the game itself continues to evolve and future environmental factors, there are lots of areas to explore from an innovation standpoint. As technology and material science improve, these will also provide new paths to explore and apply.
What would you like to see more of within soccer culture?
If I had one thing I would personally love soccer culture do more of, it would be to become a loud voice of positive social change, whether that’s to fight racism, poverty, classism, environmental challenges…basically to rally globally and collectively to enable positive change.
What’s your personal favorite soccer shoe?
Ahhh this will show my age but I’m partial to the original Ronaldo Mercurial
Given your involvement and influence on Nike SB, what were your thoughts on the Skateboarding division before you got involved, and where did you want to take it to – and why?
There were certainly some parallels that I considered when I accepted the Nike SB challenge. The main ones were, in both cases we were outsiders looking in and neither the skate or the soccer community were asking or looking for us to join in. It was really the opposite to that. The second, what we needed to do to gain a foothold was not going to happen overnight and we needed to be willing to commit 100% over an extended period of time before we could judge if we were going to be successful or not. With SB we wanted to be considered over time as a real and committed part of the core skate community but do it in a way the was unapologetically Nike. Essentially we wanted and needed to earn the respect, not buy it, as many expected us to do.
There are a lot of connection between soccer and skateboarding in terms of their cultures, such as borrowing designs when it comes to fashion and shoes. Being involved in both, how would you describe the connection in your own words?
There are definitely parallels from a cultural perspective and you see that where ever you travel to. I think the connection to the art community is a little stronger in skate due to board and T-shirt graphics playing such an important role and probably is pretty equal when it comes to music. But it does depend on where you are in the world. As an example, if you go to Brasil the top 2 sports for boys are skate and soccer and the girls are catching up… the creative community in general is deeply immersed with both so there it’s pretty equal. While is the US, skate is definitively ahead on the creative connectivity due how the sports have developed. From a footwear perspective both sports have their sort “ah ha” moments that sort of launched them into the collab mode. For soccer it was the 98 World Cup and the original Ronaldo Mercurial in silver/blue/yellow. Prior to that it’s was primarily black/White and that opened the flood gates to where we’ve evolved to today. For skate it was the SB Dunk collab’s we did with our original skaters Gino, Reece, Richie and Danny, along with early work on the AF1 that helped launch what is now the sneaker collector culture. Today you see those connections evolve with collab’s like the Neymar/Jordan collab on and off pitch.
What are some of your favorite soccer silhouette’s that you’ve pulled inspiration from specifically for Nike SB?
The two that stand out are the early Tiempo indoor and the first Mercurial Flyknit Hi both were leveraged into skate shoes that core skaters would use every day. The Tiempo SB has had 3 different iterations over the years.
Where do you see the connection between soccer and skateboarding going in the future?
I think as the popularity of soccer grows in the US and skateboarding grows outside the US, you’ll see more and more connectivity both sports rely on and are built around what you can do with your feet, are very democratic in nature and physical size doesn’t become an inhibitor to achievement at the highest level. Also in many parts of the world where access and cost become factors, there is a broader level of access for more kids so again back to the democratic nature of both sports. With skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport and the continued excitement around big tournaments like the World Cup or Champions League the future is bright and exciting for both.
SANDY BODECKER’S FOOTWEAR ARCHIVE
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.”
At KTTP we are obsessed with design and the process of design. We are fascinated by the stories behind the products we use and the stories they communicate to the user. That is why we were drawn to PLAYR.
PLAYR is a tech vest and pod that tracks speed, distance, sprints and heat maps. The focus of the product is solely on the pitch and performance-based and the potential of wearables to impact the game is enormous. We will leave the analysis of how smart tech is changing football to those more qualified than ourselves. We did, however, get the opportunity to chat with Benoit Simeray the CEO Consumer at Catapult, about the design process of PLAYR.
One of the first things you notice about the PLAYR vest is the sleek design—no buttons, no visible outlets or charging chords. That was no accident, a lot of thought went into the crafting of the vest.
“We had to questions those things. Why do we have a button? What is the value of having a button?…what is the value of the vest? How do we approach the smart vest in a different way then we have been doing for the last 10 or 20 years…Why not wireless charging? Could we not use the vest to activate the pod, to turn it on? And to autodetect when you actually started to move? So there is a magnet in the pocket of the vest that signal(s) the pod to turn on.”
The result of asking those questions is a sleek and seamless piece of technology that looks great. The design of the product was shaped by four defining principles, Benoit explained. First, needed to be the highest quality. It needed to perform at a high level. It needed to be what Benoit calls, “frictionless.”
“So it was [more than] just high quality and high performance it was [about being] frictionless in all aspects. That’s the third pillar. It’s got to be very easy to unbox, to set up, to upgrade, to use, and then to upload the session.
“And then the fourth thing—it’s got to be beautiful. It’s very simple, but for me, it is fundamental that anything that we are doing at Catapult has to be design led…Not just the way the product looks it’s the way our products interact with our customers.”
The simple and elegant design and packaging is a visual manifestation of the seamless and efficient product and user experience. “We massively enjoyed the creation of that beautiful project… The product is not just the vest. It’s the pod, it’s the vest, and it’s the software—where the user is spending 90 percent of their interaction time…frictionless and beautiful…”
Benoit and Catapult were very conscious in their design choices for the product, the packaging and the story they tell in their online messaging.
“PLAYR is not for every soccer player. It’s for players who are really serious about…their game and who are willing to enhance their performances and get a competitive edge [over] the other team and the other players. And that’s fundamentally all we are after.”
Through the use of colors and selective imagery PLAYR is looking to hone in on their target audience: “the high working, high performer who has this passion [for the game] That is why we chose [certain] colors…electric blue…a strong pink. We also worked a lot around [the idea] of electricity—that electric, dynamic player. The [building] of a human machine. All of that [fed] the art direction.”
The idea of PLAYR being for the select few, those who are passionate about getting better is an idea that Simeray elaborated on.
“The [people] that are buying PLAYR are adapters, they are opinion shapers. opinion leaders. They have an edge on the rest of the population. They innovate and they…embrace new technology.
“In sports today talent is important but it’s not everything. It’s the preparation, it’s the constant performance. Those players, that’s what they have…We are after those…leaders…who are showing the way to the rest of the team.”
Those individuals who are leaders and opinion shapers should be excited about PLAYR’s future plans to add more customizability and more design choices in the near future.
“We are investing [significant amount] into research and development to make it the best performing…smart vest in terms of ability…but also the most appealing and distinctive because this is actually what you wear and this is how you express…your personality…from when you wear it on top of your team jersey during training but also when you wear it underneath your team [shirt] and remove it when you score a goal. This is an expression of who you are. We are looking into…limited editions…and not [just] colors, different fabrics, different shapes…it could be also on-demand printing…the ability to customize and tailor-make your own design so that this is an expression of who you are…we definitely have some things in the pipeline, making sure that each and every system can be tailor-made to your needs and your personality or the message that you’re willing to spread.”
PLAYR’s message is clear. They are serious about quality and performance and it is reflected in every detail. From the product itself to the packaging and even down to the Instagram pics. They are about high quality and performing at a high level all while looking good.
Art and soccer go hand-in-hand – that’s obvious. We see the marriage displayed on our favorite soccer jerseys, we see it on posters, campaigns, and art projects from a novice fan to a recognized artist… there’s art even found in how the beautiful game is even played – many argue that soccer itself is a form of artistic dance. Does it lie in the beauty of art though? Or in the beauty of the game? Perhaps both! Either way, it’s a marriage we always enjoy, no matter the genre, so when we heard OG graffiti legend Saber was involved in adidas Football’s recent Energy Mode X18 event here in Los Angeles, we jumped at the chance to speak with the man to get his thoughts on the relationship between art and soccer, as well as how and why he’s particularly involved, where he would like to see the shared cultures going in the future, and much more.
So, to start, what’s your relationship with soccer?
The first thing I can say is that I played soccer when I was about five… I don’t know shit. I know nothing. World Cup? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? I don’t know what it is. Football… Futbol? Okay… I’ve always appreciated the sport, but then I get sucked into this gig and I’m like okay cool, let’s go! So then I start researching – I didn’t really know much about ‘street league,’ I don’t know about a Tango League – I didn’t know anything about this… But I start seeing videos, I start seeing what these kids are doing and the energy, the technical aspects of how talented these kids are, and I thought it was really cool, man. There’s a lot of energy behind it and I thought that was really moving. When I saw the momentum and saw the energy, I thought that was really cool. It seems like something that’s very positive. I like that it’s aggressive. I also like that it can get aggressive, that it’s pretty hardcore. It can get pretty intense. With street soccer and graffiti, we’re all kind part of being born out of concrete to a certain degree, and I think the competitive spirit might be similar. I don’t do graffiti much anymore – I’m too old and have kids and shit like that, but back in the day we were always are unstoppable.
That’s how people are describing soccer players now: as being “unstoppable.”
Yeah, I was unstoppable back then!. Nothing could stop me, nothing!
So back then, did you see any sort of marriage between the street art/graffiti world and soccer? Do you see it happening now?
Well honestly, for me those worlds didn’t even combine. They didn’t even exist together. So I think adidas, with their efforts and the Tango league and street soccer aspect, it’s nice to see adidas sponsoring these things and making these things happen. It’s only going to grow, and these kids are very competitive! So yeah, clearly they’re going to grow the sport and grow it into something bigger and maybe America will embrace “football” as opposed to [American] “football.” I don’t even watch it. I like violence, so I like watching jujitsu and people killing each other. Other than that, I don’t follow sports and I don’t have time… I’m too caught up with other stuff. But still, I think the energy is very similar and I think what translates that energy is when you have the fashion, you have the momentum of it. You have that action, and I think there are similarities between soccer and art with that.
You can look at other countries where it’s easier to see both cultures of street soccer and graffiti side-by-side – both born from the streets. I mean, you go to a place like Brazil and you’ll have a pickup game on the streets amidst a whole bunch of graffiti, some kids partaking in both. Is that something you’d like to see more of in America?
Absolutely. I would love to see that. That seems to be a more healthy environment. We were born out of the gang mentality. So we didn’t really want to open up to anybody, you know? We kept to ourselves. I think this could be a good bridge – a cultural bridge – between the two worlds and more: music, skateboarding, streetwear… anything really!
Last weekend, Nike send us out to Chicago to experience the official event celebrating their soccer-inspired collaboration collection with one of today’s most coveted creatives Virgil Abloh and his brand Off-White, dubbed ‘Mon Amour.’ During the event, which as mentioned took place at the very city Abloh first called home, we were fortunate enough to sit down and chat with professional soccer player and defender of the Chicago Red Stars Casey Short, who came through to join in on the festivities of the day. If you’re just catching up on what went down at the ‘Mon Amour’ event in Chicago, head over to our official recap feature here. As for Casey, check out our exclusive interview below where we asked her to share her thoughts on the Off-White x Nike collection, who she’s rooting for in the 2018 World Cup, how she got involved in Nike in the first place and more.
So, first all we’re here in Chicago to experience the announcement of Off-White x Nike ‘Mon Amour.’ So to start, I wanted to get your thoughts and comments on the collection.
I think it’s so cool! I didn’t know a lot about it before, but I love the alternative take on the old-school soccer inspiration. It’s like a throwback but it’s still different and super cool. It’s not cookie-cutter like we see elsewhere sometimes – it’s very unique.
Talking about you now, how did you first get into soccer?
Honestly, it started as more of a social thing! All of my friends were doing it so I started it and then fell in love with the game.
Seeing as it’s World Cup season, are you gonna be watching the games?
Yeah, I will be, but obviously it’s a little bit sad that our men aren’t in it… I to for. So it’s tough – I don’t know who to root for.
If you had to choose, which country would you root for? AND who do you think will actually win?
OK, so for I think is going to win… Germany. And our team, we actuallydrew out of a hat for who to root for, and my team was Costa Rica so that’s who I’m actually rooting for!
Moving on now to you and Nike, tell us a little bit about your experience working with the brand as a professional athlete.
Oh, well, Nike has been phenomenal to me. I’ve always been a huge fan of their gear and their apparel – and of course their shoes. So to finally become an official ambassador, It means a lot to me. I mean, I’m literally obsessed with Nike, haha.
Is becoming a Nike ambassador somethingthat you ever thought would happen?
t was always the dream! But obviously there were a few step backs with injuries which m, ‘is this actually going to happen?.. was this meant for me?.. But that’s also when I realized just how badly I wanted it and how much this the game meant to me.
Images by Turfmapp/Trisikh Sanguanbun
Always one to take existing sneaker silhouettes to new heights through artistic customization, Dominic Chambrone AKA The Shoe Surgeon adds to his coveted roster of sneakers with his latest Electricity Copa Rose 2.0 for adidas Football. The shoe also plays a part in a collection of soccer-meets-basketball sneakers that the skilled artist made exclusively for The Association, an ongoing soccer league held by yours truly that brings together teams assembled by brands and companies within our culture, including Beats by Dre, Complex, Dash Radio, FourTwoFour on Fairfax, Jason Markk, Niky’s Sport, Red Bull, and SpaceX.
The Electricity Copa Rose 2.0 is a clear stand out (well… they kind of all are), and is comprised of an adidas Copa soccer cleat in “Electricity” as the upper fixed on to the sole taken from the adidas Derek Rose 4 basketball shoe. What’s even better is that this work of art – along with the other pairs from the aforementioned collection – are all wearable, and will be made available this Saturday May 12 exclusively on The Shoe Surgeon’s online website. Check out The Shoe Surgeon x adidas Football Electricity Copa Rose 2.0 throughout, then read our interview with the man on the whole soccer-meets-basketball collection below. Head here to see the other pairs.
In your own words, how would you describe your approach to the collection of custom sneakers you made for The Association?
My approach to the collection was really to mash up soccer and basketball, and really do it in a way where you can actually play in them as well.
What was the most challenging pair to make?
I would say that the most challenging shoe out of this collection was the adidas COPA silhouette on the Crazy BYW sole.
And if you had to pick your personal favorite pair?
My personal favorite from this collection would definitely have to be the Samba on the Dame 4 sole. I just think it’s such a classic upper on top of a futuristic basketball sole.
After finishing the whole collection, was there a pair that you expected the audience to view as the craziest?
Probably the aforementioned Crazy BYW sole on the COPA. That one’s pretty loud.