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

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

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.

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.

UPPER90 HOSTS RED BULL STREET STYLE

This past weekend, Upper90 hosted the USA Finals of the Red Bull Street Style tournament. The stakes were high. Whoever was skilled enough to win would go on to represent the USA at the World Finals in Poland. Contestants came to the Queens location of Upper90 in Astoria from all over the country, from California to just a few blocks away. Talk about competition.

Aside from the competition, we had a chance to check out the entirety of the location, equipped with an indoor pitch, two rooftop pitches, the store itself, and a cafe. Before the tournament began, there was a viewing party set up for the Russia vs. Croatia World Cup quarterfinal, while contestants were warming up for what might be the biggest competition of their lives.

There were fan experiences set up as well, including a custom T-shirt station and a Messi virtual experience station by adidas. One of the co-owners, Zach, welcomed us and showed us around while we chatted about his experiences as a former commodities trader and what led him to create Upper90. “The city had nothing like it before this,” he said, as we watched the 5-a-side games on the rooftop pitches. Creds to Zach and his colleagues for taking a risk in one of the world’s most unforgiving cities. The risk paid off as they now have multiple locations and enjoy success while providing for local communities.

The Red Bull Street Style tournament hosted by UPPER90 was a culmination of their mission: encouraging expression, while bringing together communities. We wish Upper90 continued success in the future, of which we have no doubt as long as they keep up what they’re doing. Be sure to visit any of their locations if you’re ever in New York City.

You can visit the Queens location of Upper90 in Astoria at 34-23 38th St, Long Island City, NY 11101.

OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE OFFICIALLY TAPS PUMA FOR ITS KITS

France’s long-standing football club Olympique de Marseille, a brand that has 119 years and 32 major trophies under its belt, has recently partnered up with global sportswear giant PUMA and its Football division to provide the club’s worldwide kits. This is course comes as a massive deal for both partners, with one gaining the expertise in sponsorship an design of a well-respected sports brand, and the other the prestige and association with one of Europe’s most iconic clubs. To celebrate its newfound relationship, PUMA Football and Olympique de Marseille have come out with three new 2018/19 kits for the team – home, away, and third – that pull inspiration from the sea, more specifically the power and ferocity that it wields.

IS ENGLAND’S WC ’90 ITALIA HOME KIT THE TEAM’S VERY BEST?

Italia 90 is an iconic World Cup. For England, it was a special one. A team full of Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Stuart Pearce and Paul Gascoigne. The Three Lions reached the semi-finals of this tournament, the furthest they have gone since their famous 1966 win.

It wasn’t just the players or the performances, especially from Gazza, that struck a chord with the world of football. It was the home and third kits. The home kit is an iconic one but the blue one is, in my opinion, the best ever England shirt.

Both shirts had a beautiful collar, one that wouldn’t look out of place on the fashionista’s of the world. As the culture has grown, shirts like the home and third kit have become more and more sought after due to their aesthetics. With the home shirt being the normal all white shirt featuring fantastic red numbers and the team lined up against the rest of the world looking slick.

It’s the blue shirt, for me, that is astounding. Featuring in, arguably, the best World Cup song ever by New Order ‘Three Lions,’ the blue third shirt is a grail of many. A shirt that can only be bought either in remake form or for $100+. The best place to find shirts, ClassicFootballShirts, only has one of these available for sale and it is listed for £249.99.

It’s rare but I can still dream of ever wearing such a good shirt. Despite the home and third being the best shirts that England have ever worn, a special mention to the away kit. A simple red version of the shirts, the kit is perfect for those who believe that red should be the home kit colour forever and always (or just for those that prefer the red version).

Conclusion: a trio of kits, all offering a cool aesthetic to the football fashion gurus out there, but only if you’re willing to part with a whole load of cash. I would if I could…

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.

OP-ED: CONCEPT KITS ARE THE FUTURE

Concept kits are wonderful things; an aspect of soccer culture where an artist can express their dreams of designing some of the biggest clubs’ kits. But what if these weren’t just dreams? What if brands realized the sheer talent some of these people have for designing kits?

adidas and Nike, obviously, run the kit game with iconic shirts from past years and some delightful new releases. However, in recent years, we have seen the increasingly annoying use of templates. A lazy approach to designing kits. Simply copy and paste the shirt, changing the colors to suit teams (see Nike’s 2016 releases). What if, for once, brands looked to a concept artist or two to create – or even just aid the creation – of kits? A certain increase in originality will be noticed, but also kits that have unique aesthetics and a feel about them that links them to fans and clubs alike.

Through the Twittersphere we have all been exposed to a beautiful concept kit here and there. The good ones always cause a stir amongst the community, with many fans frantically sharing and expressing their views which are mainly positive.

A designer by the name of Emilio Sansolini is a perfect representative for this design community. Such talent is within this collection of artists that brands are missing a huge opportunity not reaching out to them. A few examples below of the stupendous work that Sansolini creates. Various kits that, as fans, we’d all love to see the players wear, especially following Nike’s disastrous collar idea this year. All of them feature a unique design, providing a slick aesthetic and overall… being beautiful.

But he isn’t the only one. I stumbled across Lukas Danyi when browsing the concept equivalent to heaven on Pinterest. A designer providing incredible art surrounding some of the biggest clubs on the globe. A guy who states in his Twitter bio “I hope to get a job as a football kit designer.” Well, Lukas, you deserve it. You understand kits and what makes them beautiful things.

Despite the recognition these guys – and many more fantastic artists – are gathering being mainly from fans on social media, steps have been made in the right direction. AS Roma, the Champions League semi-final club, have recognized various artists, including the two aforementioned. Via their Twitter, they’ve shone a huge light onto some magnificent kit designs. A big step in the right direction for getting designers higher in the food chain regarding kit design. If more clubs/brands/people in a position like reach out to those that deserve it due to their sheer creative brilliance, then we could see more interesting kits. And this is something we need. Especially with this emergence of the ‘template.’ Viva la revolution!

Many more designers are out there. To name a few: Jack Hazzard, Angelo Trofa, and Carlo Libri.

These people are the future. A wave of designers have crashed upon the culture’s shores and aren’t going away anytime soon. I ask, no, I urge all designers to carry on creating and keep dreaming about your kits being worn by superstars. It’ll happen…it has to. You are the culture, you are the future and I salute you.