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We live in a beautiful time where soccer and culture are overlapping more than ever. The unique ethos of the beautiful game and everything that surrounds it continues to evolve with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives shaping its culture and helping it grow.
There is no better example of the collision of soccer and culture than the Los Angeles based soccer league, The Association. Born out of a desire to grow the sport through culture, The Association blends the best of music, art, and fashion with some of LA’s best brands and most influential social media personalities.
Started in 2018, the goal of The Association was to create the most dynamic and interesting soccer league in the United States. A league that wasn’t based solely on the competitiveness on the pitch but the culture and the people vying to make soccer more than just a game but a culturally diverse movement. The Association has become a hub for LA’s creative community that also happens to have a deep love for the beautiful game.
In the second installment of the league, The Association has brought back six original teams from season one (Beats by Dre, Complex, SpaceX, 424 on Fairfax, Niky’s Sports and Dash Radio) and added two new teams for season two (ShoeSurgeon and Guess). These brands represent some of the best that LA has to offer in terms of tech, fashion, media, music, and retail. And as diverse as the teams are, each of them shares a deep love for soccer, the culture and they all have a desire to help grow the sport not only in Los Angeles but across the US.
Each team in the league is given the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and design one of a kind kits that can only be seen on Association game nights—custom made kits by SpaceX, The Shoe Surgeon, 424, Guess and other paragons in their fields. These uniforms have helped drive the story around creativity within the league and pushed the boundaries of what a soccer league looks like.
The Association is truly an example of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The teams, players and kits are just a part of the story. Each game night is designed to give fans and players an experience that goes above and beyond the games. Through partners adidas, el Jimador, and Kona fans are treated to the incredible music from resident DJ Kappa as well as free tacos, tequila, and beer.
For more hands-on experiences, FutPool provides a novel soccer-meets-billiards competition. There are also FIFA video game stations onsite.
In addition to the music, the food, and the drinks, each game night features a unique activation. In the spirit of competition, season two includes a number of exclusive battles including a live art battle curated by Secret Walls, a barber battle featuring some of LA’s flyest barber shops, and a B-Boy battle that brought back serious 1980s breakdancing vibes. With three weeks left of season two and the playoffs beginning this week, The Association team has a few more tricks up its sleeves for the final activations.
The Association is a celebration of soccer and the culture that it inspires. The goal of the league has always been to elevate the sport for existing fans and use culture as a bridge to new fans.
Season two of The Association has three weeks left. If you are in Los Angeles on a Thursday night between now and June 13th, stop by for a drink. Eat a taco. Watch some incredible games and connect with the beautiful community that we are all a part of.
Thursday nights from 8pm-11pm The Base LA
352 N. Ave 21
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Entry is free and The Association is open to all ages.
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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.
Before we all inevitably move on from the still-relevant, design-orientated Nike soccer collabs with Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones, we wanted to present our own effort at showcasing the two well-crafted collections. We come to you with a two-part fashion editorial where we took both collections onto the streets of two different U.S. cities. For Virgil’s Off White pieces, we decided to hit the hometown of the designer himself, Chicago, for a shoot featuring yours truly (they twisted my arm until I agreed to model for this…) as I gallivant about Wicker Park/Bucktown in an attempt to score myself a much-deserved donut, all captured by Turfmapp founder and photographer Trisikh Sanguanbun.
Our Kim Jones shoot, taken by long-standing HYPEBEAST photographer Aaron Miller, takes place in our own city of Los Angeles, where we bring on ex-pro soccer athlete and personal trainer Shawna Gordon, who joins me on the roofs of DownTown LA chasing after that city-synonymous sunset. Both editorials utilize the soccer-focused pieces under a more casual style sensibility, showing how one can wear – or even pair – the pieces off the pitch. Check out both shoots below.
OFF WHITE X NKE IN CHICAGO | THE DONUT HUNT IN WICKER PARK
KIM JONES X NIKE IN LOS ANGELES | WE COULD NEVER REACH THE MOON ANYWAY
With the World Cup in full swing Drew recaps how teams have done so far with the help of Seb from Sebasbk Photography and Ivan Fernandez, the Afroxander, a writer and photographer based in SoCal. Seb and Drew explore the photography in the game and how influencers, social media, and major brands have affected the business.
The guys revel in the terrible performance from Argentina and highlight Colombia’s wild route to the round of 16. Colombia are coming off a loss, an unexpected win and a narrow 1-0 over Senegal to advance—they will face England on July 3rd. Seb and Drew run down the entire line of teams and debate what could go down in knockout stages. For now, France is bland, Neymar better turn up, and Uruguay could shock everyone.
Ivan Fernandez, or Afroxander, a writer and photographer has worked with GameCrate, Remezcla LA, and LA Weekly. He talks Mexico in the World Cup, their inability to be consistent, and what a win could mean for the Hispanic population in Los Angeles. With Lozano’s goal in the 35th minute over Germany, Mexico could actually see the light and Chicharito begs them to believe. Mexico clearly has the tools, now they need consistency.
One thing we can all get behind is the World Cup’s ability to unite a nation, not under one team, but behind a love for the same sport. Seb said it best, “No matter a language barrier, soccer is a language all its own.” Oh, my heart. Hopefully you all survived doomsday, aka the one day without World Cup action. We certainly can’t wait to see what happens here at Kicks to the Pitch and we will continue to brief you on the action. Personally, I’m hoping we see a lot more of England if you know what I’m sayin’.
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!
Today marked a monumental win for South Korea within the world of soccer, as they beat Germany in today’s match for the World Cup 2018 with a two-nil win! Out here in Los Angeles, a city with the country’s largest Korean population, let me just say, the high energy, pride, and spirit felt throughout simply cannot be put into words. For those of you who are – or were – rooting for Germany, the Korea win comes as an immense blow given that the country is now out of the World Cup…
While we as a media outlet strive to stay as unbiased as we can, we can’t help but share in the joy our Korean brothers and sisters are feeling right now. In a bid to continue Korean pride, we’ve got a special Street Style fashion editorial that highlights Nike Soccer’s official Korea collection, modeled in Downtown Los Angeles by our very own writer Raymond An who is currently out there in Russia doing his own bit of Korea-support – if you haven’t heard about his #followtheflag initiative yet, click here to find out all about it. Donning South Korea’s official Nike 2018 away kit in white, as well as their travel top in black, the editorial also brings out a retro World Cup piece in blue complete with the Korean flag emblem, as well as an official Korea Football Association cap, all styled in street-ready looks. Check out the special South Korea street style editorial throughout.
While the world is aware that brands like to put in money and effort into their campaign events, it’s safe to say that as of late adidas has risen the bar, especially with what they’ve done out here in Los Angeles – their 747 event for basketball back in February being a prime example. Last week the sportswear giant went at it again for its soccer division to celebrate its latest innovation for the sport, coinciding of course with the 2018 World Cup. If you’ve been following us – and any other soccer-orientated platform for that matter – you’ll already be well aware of adidas Soccer’s X18+ silhouette, a slim and sleek, laceless offering that focuses on the power of speed. It’s been dubbed “the fastest and lightest laceless boot available.”
Highlighting its release, the X18+ Energy Mode event brought in crowds to experience a live customization of adidas soccer kits, enjoy the open bars and food courtesy of Sweet Chick, and to witness a live Tango League with an MVP to be chosen to win a trip to Russia to compete in the global Tango League final. Rolling up to the event, which took place at adidas’ The Base location in Los Angeles – yup, the same as where we hold our The Association game nights – we were set loose to enjoy all the aforementioned happenings and then some.
While soccer was very much the main focus of the day, adidas managed to mix in music and art with the beautiful game by inviting OG Graffiti legend Saber, who conducted a live art installment that saw him spray painting over a wall of soccer balls, each being handed out to the public along with a Saber signature. The main event, however, was when adidas brought out Queens-native Rich the Kid who got the crowd into a frenzy. To cap the night off, a squad of motorbike riders tore up the cement outside – from wheelies to donuts – all in a bid to create some near-deafening noise to celebrate the Tango League MVP winner: Melvyn Owen Perez Cortez – congrats, kid!
While we managed to enjoy ourselves at the event, if there’s a work opportunity, you know we’ll take it, so we asked adidas if they could sit us down with its soccer division’s merchandising manager Joseph Sleven to talk all things X18+, as well as his thoughts on the current landscape of soccer culture. Check out the interview below, as well as our official visual recap of the event throughout.
To start, can you summarize adidas’ new X18 Energy Mode pack for those that are still unfamiliar with the innovation?
Put it frankly, the thought process behind the design of the shoe was to build something for the fastest player possible, down to the look, down to the field, down to the weight. Everything about it is supposed to enable our most explosive – our fastest players – to perform at their top level.
So there’s obviously a lot of aspects when it comes to playing soccer in terms of product design. Why focus on speed for this release?
When we create the range, and when we look at our footwear, there’s any number of players that take part or participate in the game. So for us, the predator is that person who controls the game, they dictate the tempo, their touch, their field or class… everything they do can kind of permeate throughout the team. X players are extremely explosive with getting to the end of the pitch and putting the ball in the back of the net. Nemesis is for those agility players who are really unpredictable – they don’t really fit into a box. Maybe they’re floating around the field but they have these moments of magic that you can’t recreate. And then the Copa is the boot. It’s the soccer player… It’s almost your favorite player’s favorite boot. So everything within that portfolio speaks to different players of the game recognizing that no two players are the same.
Can you speak about the thoughts behind the X18+’s colorway and the overall aesthetics of the shoe?
Well, first and foremost it needed to look fast and speak specifically to that speed player. So you look at its sleek minimalistic design and all these elements which are kind of pulling back and giving it that almost movement visual – even when it’s stagnant it looks like it’s moving. That’s what we want for the speed silo. When we talk about the flash you have these iridescent parts at the branding, as well as on the sole of the shoe. When we talk about colorway, again when you’re on the field you want it to pop. You want something that really jumps out. So this blue is really shocking, it kind of jumps out at you and it really speaks to this silo because it’s like nothing else within the footwear family right now. When we talk about being fashion-forward, with bringing it on to the street or into the cage, the fact that it’s laceless for us is our top technology. We wanted that to be something that also lent itself to being worn with shorts or as you can see in the cage. It doesn’t just necessarily have performance tooling only. There’s a lot of, I would say, fashionable detailing in there, whether it be raises where there would be lasing, or for that speed look, we’ve given it that see-through aesthetic on the upper, or even the flash on the bottom. So a lot of things come from just thinking through the 365 of what our players’ day looks like.
Moving on from the X18+, with you coming from adidas, how aware are you with the way that soccer is going on a cultural standpoint, or what it looks like when it comes to say fashion, music, or art? Is that something that adidas is very much up to date with?
Absolutely. I think that’s really what they look at when they’re putting everything together. So even beyond cleats, take for instance jerseys, we look at that and recognize that these aren’t just specific to playing on the pitch. We’re looking at the hem line, looking at shoulder drop lines, the technology, and those tech details, or even call outs for that country specifically, those are things that we feel lives on the pitch as well as off the pitch. So it’s recognizing that again, soccer is 365 for people who live, breathe, eat, and sleep the sport. And beyond that, when you look at what we’re offering, it’s not just cleats, it’s not just performance jerseys. We have seasonal specialty product that is bespoke to Argentina or Mexico, but it’s really for the street specifically. Maybe not for an avid consumer, but somebody who recognizes that they are a casual fan of this club and that they can wear that shirt, they can wear the pants or the woven shorts, creating a whole offering across every federation, across every club that allows you to rep no matter the circumstances – after, before, or during a game. We’re looking at product holistically now through that lens of the entire year and day.
Last question: speaking of repping, with the World Cup underway, do you have a country that you’re rooting for?
For me specifically, I mean I would love to see Messi get one, right! But honestly, as a fan of the sport, I just want good games. I want to see just incredible moments, the ones that give you chills and that keep you wanting more, and I think when you put the best countries in the world together, you’re going to get those moments inevitably. So I’m just really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
adidas Skateboarding recently dropped a campaign that really hit the mark for us. While we orientate ourselves around the game of soccer, we do so through the lens of culture and any of its facets that stems from other forms of creativity. Take skateboarding for example; a sport that prides itself around the culture it has manifested over the years. While there’s an obvious tie with skate and fashion, the same can very easily – if not more – be said with soccer. So when adidas Skateboarding showed up with a campaign that featured its roster of skaters who were tasked with designing their very own soccer kit, needless to say, we were excited.
Seeing as yesterday was the official #GoSkateDay, it was an obvious decision for us to hit Los Angeles’ most iconic skate location, the Venice Beach skate park, to put the skater-designed jerseys to good use. Thanks to our cameraman Ben Higginbotham, along with his team and skaters Chase Lett, Eunice, Destin Thomas and Jeramy Ritchie we’re proud to present our own exclusive video editorial featuring the adidas Skateboarding team designed soccer kits, followed by an accompanying lookbook. Check out the video above and the stills below.
Bridging the gap between soccer, art, and food, sportswear giant PUMA teams up with German football club Borussia Dortmund – or BVB for short – and Foodbeast to create a unique food truck that serves reimagined German street food with a Los Angeles twist. Dubbed the BVB Food Truck, the collaboration will be running the streets of LA for a limited time only that’s well worth seeking out.
Why, you ask? Because you’ll be able to order insanely scrumptious sounding dishes like currywurst burritos, curry chicken grilled cheese sandwiches, schnitzel sandwich, and curry cheese fries to name a few. You’d be insane not to try everything at least five times. The truck itself comes courtesy of local LA food truck, The Berlin Truck, which has been completely redesigned on its facade by OG street artist DEFER.
Showcasing the BVB Food Truck at its wurst behavior is yours truly in conjunction with our good friends Foodbeast, a food and drinks website that you should also be following. We’ve put together a quick video that highlights the elements behind PUMA and BVB’s effort, giving you a visual taste of what you’ll be getting when you visit the truck at one of its many stops around the City of Angels. The BVB Food Truck will only be spinning its wheels for one week, so make sure you check out its location schedule below to ensure you hit each and every stop.
Time: 12am – 12pm
Place: Common Space LA
Address: 3411 W. El segundo Blvd., Hawthorne CA 90250
Place: S.S. Lane Victory
Address: 1945 Merchant Marine Ship, Berth 49, 3600 Miner Street, San Pedro
Place: 10 Mile Brewery Address:1136 E Willow st, Signal Hill, 90755
Place: Ocean & 31st
Address: 2929 31st St., Santa Monica, CA 90405
2:30 – 4pm
Place: Niky’s Sports
Address: 11807 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Place: Tri Centre Food Trucks
Address: 650 E Hospitality Ln, San Bernardino
Time: 5 – 10pm
Address: 3939 Figueroa St, Los Angeles CA 90037 (Parking Lot Across the Figueroa st Entrance Banc of California Stadium)
Place: Heritage Corporate Center
Address: 10350 Heritage Park Dr, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Place: Common Space LA
Address: 3411 W. El segundo Blvd., Hawthorne CA 90250
Leading up to this Sunday’s debut home game for Los Angeles newcomers LAFC, we were lucky enough to visit the pristine grounds of LAFC’S Banc of California stadium. Untouched by the inevitable onslaught of live sports shenanigans, the stadium was nothing shy of impressive. More so when we discovered the countless attention to detail elements found throughout. Following our previous Destination piece on the stadium still in construction, check out our new and exclusive photo recap of the finished space throughout.