Although this year’s World Cup is far behind us, that doesn’t mean we need to forget and move on from the one-in-every-four year event. In fact, all the better to remember its impact to help spur on more culture surrounding the sport. Especially out here in the States, given that we, along with our neighbors Mexico and Canada, will be hosting the global tournament in 2026 following Qatar for 2022 (the first Arab state to host the World Cup). To help keep our soccer spirits up, up and away, we have Billionaire Boys Club: the fashion brand/retailer and brainchild of both Pharrell Williams and BAPE founder NIGO.
For its Summer 2018 NYC-exclusive capsule collection, the premium streetwear label has delivered a vibrant and whimsical array of athletic pieces inspired by the recently passed World Cup. The drop includes a range of silhouettes, from player jerseys to goalie long-sleeves, warm-up suits, short and more. The main attraction for the collection as a whole, however, is it’s diverse and fun designs that features tie-dye, camo, and classic soccer stripes patterning, as well as BBC’s classic space-centric motifs. Details include “7 Mercer” and “212” notes that nods to the brand’s NYC flagship.
To showcase the pieces in use, courtesy of the kind people at Billionaire Boys Club, we decided to explore our own urban landscape for the setting of our original fashion editorial, which you can see throughout. The pieces are currently available at BBC’s NYC flagship store, so be sure to stop by if you’re in the area:
BBC Flagship Store
7 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012
If you’re familiar with what we do at Kicks to the Pitch, you’ll know of our feature series titled Chicks in Kits, a channel where we highlight female enthusiasts of the beautiful game, from ex-pro soccer players to creatives to fitness trainers, all of which share the same passion for the sport. As of today, we’ve decided to get with the times and rename the series to Football is Female in a bid to open our platform up to a more gender-balanced approach. Kicking off the revised series is a look at some of the stand out female fans that have trekked the globe to support our favorite global sporting event: the World Cup.
Taken while we were out there in Russia covering the games for our own purposes, we’ve managed to grab the emotion, intensity, highs, lows, and everything in-between from some of the many faces captured within the crowds. Stay tuned for more from our #footballisfemale series to come.
Three lions, four birds, and a cross of the knights templar walk into a World Cup… The origins of global soccer crests is a tangled mess of lions, tigers, eagles and rosaries — as complex and intertwined as the beautiful game itself. Now that we’ve passed the knockout stages, here are a few of the best origin stories behind the sigils of our World Cup favorites.
JAPAN (The three-legged crow)
Japanese design culture has always a boasted a beauty rooted in being painstakingly well-considered. The nation’s soccer kits for their beloved “Samurai Blue” are no different. The JFA crest prominently depicts the Yatagarasu – the three-legged crow – who in Asian myth serves as a kind of avatar for divine intervention or a messenger from the gods. Under the crow’s front-most talon is, of course, the rising sun, emblematic of modern Japan. To this day, the winners of the “Emperor’s cup,” Japan’s oldest domestic trophy, are awarded a Yatagarasu emblem on their kit as a reward, further conflating Japanese monarchy with the divine.
MEXICO (El Tri)
El Tri’s current crest has been in rotation since ‘94 and shares the same eagle as the Mexican flag. But instead of the eagle perched on a cactus, it is instead rocking atop The Aztec calendar. That nod to the ancient Aztecs weaves a rich tapestry of Mexico’s indigenous iconography into the Passion and Orgullo (pride) of their soccer history.
Sometimes a simple pun, perhaps even a homonym, can stir up a symbol to last over 100 years. For many scholars, the fact that the Latin root for the region of Gaul (Gallus) was identical to the Latin word for the rooster (Gallus) served as a genuine LOL moment for the people of the Middle Ages. Oh, how these people would laugh at the pleasant coincidence while associating the Gauls with the attributes of a rooster: stubbornness and brazenness. Joke’s on them, the French would run with it and since 1909 Fédération Française de Football would march out onto the field of play with the proud rooster emblazoned over their heart. From Zizou and Thuram to Pogba and Griezmann, Les Bleus unleash the rooster’s crow of French culture and sport in 90-minute intervals.
The iconic yellow and green adorned with its five World Cup victory stars are as iconic a brand as any in sporting culture. Yet, because of how vibrant and decadent the crest is, the cross anchoring it all often hides in plain sight. A second look will begin to avail the similarities of the crest shape and cross to that of Portugal, as the cross in the middle is a nod to the Portuguese Templar Knights in the Order of Christ’s Cross who uncovered a large portion of South America for Europe. The crest as a whole serves as a reminder that while the language of the nation may be rooted in Europe, the flair and joy is something uniquely made up of Brazil.
ENGLAND (Three Lions)
Ahhh, the originators of heraldry. Masters of lore and Knighthood, the English FA and the three lions have receipts going back as far as anyone when it comes to the genesis of the crest in culture. While the Three Lions are a living homage to the different iterations of King Richard the 1st’s coat of arms, the 10 Tudor roses scattered symmetrically across the shield represent the 10 regional branches of the FA. On a stage crowded by large felines, the English may just have the most iconic rendition.
RUSSIA (Double-headed Eagle)
From our lovely tournament host comes some of the most brazenly gangster symbols in World Cup history. Taken straight from the Russian coat of arms. the two (well, three when counting the two heads of the eagles) are the double-headed eagle of Ivan III and a sigil of St. George trampling a dragon. With both Byzantine and Hittite origins (that one’s for you AP Euro nerds) the hosts showcase an equally rich tradition of heraldry as that of Western footballing nations. Their bold crest serves as a reminder that no two eagles are alike.
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’.
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.
“As an African kid, you don’t learn to play football on the synthetic turf or learn football with well-planned grass, you learn it the hard way… on the street corners.”
The night is alit — the roaring of trumpets, the banging of drums, the cheering of thousands, hopeful — as the Nigerian National Football team prepares for the biggest moments of their lives. For a country of 186 million, 60 percent of which is under the age of 20, this is a new Nigeria. One to which represents a new direction, a new spirit, channeled across a country of over 500 different tribes in what is known collectively as Naija.
In conjunction with Nike, Nigerian photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu captures this vibrant optimism in a new short-film titled, This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story. At the forefront is the new Nigeria home kit, a devilishly beautiful shirt highlighted with neon green accents and an iconic zig-zag pattern which shattered the kit record, by selling out three million units in mere minutes. However, this is a story that runs far deeper than a flashy kit; this is the tale of a country, who’s relatively recent independence, is now revealing its deeply rooted creative history. A history of song and dance, of food and culture, of mythology and folklore — all of which permeates with every pulsating kick of the ball.
“When I think of Naija swag — swag is edgy, edgy is rugged, it’s authentic. Its the way we dress, its the way we carry ourselves, its the way we speak. its the way we move,” says Nigerian musician Nneka. This movement is ever-present in the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and captain John Obi Mikel, but also in rising musical and creative talents such as photographer Yagazie Emezi, filmmaker Grace Ladoja and Wizkid, to name a few.
As the most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria oozes this creativity, as it ranks second worldwide in terms of films produced and one that has birthed musical giants such as Fela Kuti and the Afrobeat movement. Footballing wise, Nigeria continues to grace the world with maestros — from the legendary Nwankwo Kanu and Jay Jay Okocha of the Olympic Gold winning team of 1996 to Premier League stars Alexander Iwobi and Victor Moses.
“Hosting the World Cup in Nigeria would take Nigeria from where it is now amongst some of the poorest countries in the world, to where it can be, one of the most advanced civilizations in the world”, says Nigerian Football legend, Segun Odegbami. The resources are there, the talents is there, the passion and energy is there… it is now up to this new Naija to use football as a catalyst in spearheading both Nigeria and the continent of Africa in what could be a domino effect of infrastructural development for the years to come. Enjoy the full This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story below.
The World Cup has turned us all into full-blown vampires. The majority of the KTTP fam lives in LA, so waking up at 5 am and stressing out over national teams we typically don’t support has become completely normal. As we clamor over things like how amazing it was to see Panama supporters celebrating a goal in a 6-1 loss and the VAR shit-show, soccer creators keep on keepin’ on. Our Korean brothers at Goodneck give us a wild summer drop, J Cole flexes with a vintage Germany kit and Hector Bellerin shows us his cross-over on an ad for Puma Hoops. Lets take that weekly dive into the soccer IG abyss…
Bowery Football Club is keeping it classic this World Cup. The Manhattan-based group is hosting a pop-up exhibition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the duration of the tournament, where you can feast your eyes on beautiful classic kits and watch any of the games on a massive projector screen. Club members Quinn and Carlos were happy to host us for the Switzerland-Serbia game and show us around the former firehouse that they rented out for the four weeks, which comes with a fully stocked bar and a patio out back.
Bowery FC teamed up with their partners Lagunitas Ale and Manchester-based Classic Football Shirts, who so graciously supplied the beer and kits, to bring this football idea to fruition. The attention to detail could not be ignored, as the jerseys were arranged by group order for this year’s edition of the World Cup.
Also on display are some of Bowery’s own apparel, my favorites being their Umbro kits and OnlyNY collabs. I have to say, there’s a unique flavor to BFC’s designs; one can tell just by looking at their custom stickers which ooze New York.
One can only feel right at home at the clubhouse thanks to the hospitality of the club members. I even managed to meet a DJ from London who lives in Dubai but was in town for the weekend, which just goes to show how the World Cup and soccer bring the world together, no matter your country of origin or if their team is in the tournament. Shout out again to Quinn and Carlos for having us, and keep up the good work. Bowery Football Club is a true representative of what New York can bring to the playing field.
You can follow Bowery FC on Instagram and Twitter. Their clubhouse exhibit is open for the duration of the World Cup at 411 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.
We’re nearly through group stage folks! It’s been a bizarro World Cup and I love it. All chaos and sleep deprivation aside, the lead up to Russia 18 has people chirping about kits and soccer fashion like never before. Thanks in massive part to Nike’s brazen “Naija” collection, which saw the Nigerian National team’s general release jersey sell out worldwide. Soccer kit’s are clearly transcending you’re average Joe with World Cup fever. So what’s led to all this? The kids that were raised on the over-sized, over-the-top and brash soccer design of yesteryear —are all grown up and creating things. It’s with this in mind that I decided to create a list of our (my) all-time best World Cup kits. A couple of rules before we get started 1. One kit per nation. It was a struggle between France 98 home and France 14 away, but only one made the cut. 2. The kit had to actually feature in a World Cup match. Yes, that England 90 third kit was brilliant, alas they never wore it in a match. 3. Lets argue!!!
The Story: Worn by one of the most controversial national team’s in the history of world soccer. The 1974 Zaire squad never received payment for their World Cup run and were nearly banned from returning home by their maniacal president. Complete shitstorm aside, The Zaire ‘Leopards’ rocked one of the most provocative kits of their era. At time when most team shirts were basic and unimaginative, but adidas turned heads with this one. The green strip was given yellow accents on a massive collar, three-stripes along the sleeves and the team badge which was enlarged then boldly blasted across the chest. Something like this had never been seen before and it sparked a change we really wouldn’t see until years later.
10. Holland 14 Away (Brazil)
Worn by: Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder
The story: Of all the entries I’m expecting this one to get the most flack and that’s ok. Yes the ‘Oranje’ are known as such for their iconic orange strips worn throughout the decades, but this gorgeous away number set it off with clean subtlety. The vibrant royal-blue was given a gradient treatment along with a faint, arrow print. Those orange accents seamlessly popped, especially on that over-sized team badge. This was one that killed softly. There was also this dude named Robin van Persie who immortalized the kit when he scored a diving header en route to a 5-1 massacre of the defending World Champions. There was a Puskas nomination, a myriad of memes, and large-scale murals in Amsterdam. Need I say more…
9. Italy 94 Home (USA)
Worn By: Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi
The Story: Prior to 94 Italy’s kits were, much like their playing style, no-nonsense and simple. The World Cup in the States brought a new wave of panache to shirt design and Diadora was very much on it. This time, the legendary ‘azzurri’ top was given a jacquard treatment. The Italian crest was incorporated into the fabric in an all-over print. Red, white and green triangles graced the collar trim as well as the sleeve cuffs for a subtle touch of nationalism. Add a clean 3D block numbering and you have the makings of a masterpiece. Yes, Roberto Baggio missed one of the most important penalties in soccer history, but he looked damn good in doing so, even with that dodgy ponytail.
The Story: France 98 was hands-down my favorite World Cup for quality kits and for good reason. Primarily because It was was the last World Cup prior to Nike and adidas dominating the landscape. It meant less templates and more eye-catching flavors. Case-in-point, the Japanese 98 home strip by Asics. Just like our previous entry we see jacquard employed, only with a more flamboyant stroke. Flames taken directly from Japanese-style tattooing were woven into the ‘Blue Samurai’ shirt. Those same flames where painted white and red then sublimated onto the sleeves to match that giant collar for accents that popped. I absolutely love when a national team kit incorporates an underlying piece of the country’s culture and this blue beauty is a shining example of that.
7. Jamaica 98 Home (France)
Worn by: Robbie Earl, Frank Sinclair, Theodore Whitmore
The Story: Kappa has always held a special place in the hearts of soccer purists. It is a staple brand forever associated with the beautiful game and it has never been afraid to be audacious. A prime example of the said audacity, is the shirt worn by the ‘Reggae Boyz’ at France 98. An over-sized, bright-yellow backdrop was divided by a green/black, half-moon, zebraish print. The giant, floppy black collar was classic 90s flair and it ran to the upper chest where it was met with that iconic Kappa logo. This jersey was controlled chaos, which very much epitomized the gun-slinging heart and playing style of Jamaica’s only World Cup side to date.
6. West Germany 90 Home (Italy)
Worn by: Jürgen Klinsman, Lothar Mathäus, Rudi Vöeller
The Story: Italia 90 was the very first World Cup that vaguely graces my memory. I was barley six years of age, but there were a few things I witnessed that profoundly impacted my tiny little brain. First, was my pops screaming like a complete psychopath at a television, second, was Tony Meola’s super mullet and third, was West Germany’s kit. I didn’t know it at the time but German’s had long been associated with beautifully efficient, technical soccer. Their plain white tops became regal and synonymous with soccer royalty. Prior to the 90s, nationalism was a bit complicated for many German’s. So for Italia 90 adidas created a shirt that was not only a sign of loud soccer fashion at the time, but it evoked a brilliant, seamless geometric design that echoed ‘Die Mannchaft’s” ethos. It was also the first time ever, that Germany proudly rocked the black, red and gold seen on their nations flag.
5. USA 94 Away (USA)
Worn by: Eric Wynalda, Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas
The Story: World Cup 94 was pure magic for anyone living in the States at the time. The teams, the colors, the rabid fans that infested our streets and of course the kits. While adidas used templates for the likes of Sweden and Bulgaria, they went completely HAM with that red-blooded American ‘stars n’ stripes’ pride..literally. The home kit flaunted red and white stripes, while the away used stars as it’s focal point. Both were obviously taken from our nations flag. You can argue that adi pandered to a soccer fanbase still in its infancy, but American’s love us some in-your-face nationalism, plus the latter of the two strips is legendary. A faded denim blue was dressed up with a gorgeous, elongated star pattern. Red accents came by way of the old (better) USMNT team crest, numbering and adidas branding. Tying it all up was a classically bold, white v-neck collar and sleeve cuffs which served as a clean frame to this gem of a kit.
The Story: Another 98 entry and Im sure another reason to argue with strangers on the internet. Yes, France always seems to be blessed with stunners but damn it, 98 was special. If it wasn’t the first, it was certainly one of the first national team kits to go back and draw design inspiration from a highly successful side within their history. With a new golden generation set to hit their peak, adidas dipped into its archives to the last and only time ‘Les Bleus’ had won a major trophy— the 1984 European Championship. That horizontal red line followed by three more white ones was taken directly from Michel Platini’s 84 jersey then placed on a more modern 90s fit. The legendary blue shirt was baggy as all hell, with the thickest three-stripes along the sleeves which led into even thicker cuffs and a gigantic collar Cantona would’ve salivated over. King Eric didn’t play in 98, but Zizou and co. didn’t need him.
3. Croatia 98
Worn by: Davor Šuker, Slaven Bilić, Igor Tudor
The Story: Lotto, much like Kappa, Umbro and Diadora is another brand that has lost it’s footing, but will forever be woven into the fabric of soccer shirt history. They are responsible for some of the most iconic kits in world football. My favorite of their remarkable catalog is the one worn by Davor Šuker and Co. when they stunned the world at France 98. Barely 7 years old as a nation, Croatia would somehow beat Germany and Holland en route to an unbelievable third place finish. This white, classically over-sized 90s kit somehow made a flowing, red-checkered print look fly as hell. The nationalistic design proved poignant as it was the first time a young nation had a team to root for—and damn was it a good one. It also ended up influencing every design to date, as every Croatia jersey since, has heavily employed those bold red checkers in some form.
2. Nigeria 18 Home (Russia)
Worn by: Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, Kalechi Iheanacho
The Story: Of course it made it. Of course it’s one of the best kits of all time, don’t @ me! Actually @ me, lets fight! All silliness aside Nike and the Nigerian Federation completely destroyed these kits and the entire ‘Naija’ collection. It’s not only that the jersey is vibrant and jaw-dropping at the core of it’s design, it obviously is. But the truth is it is much more than that. To paraphrase my man Justin Salhani ” It is the story. It’s because it ties back to their culture.” Nigerian players have always been adored for their flair, technical ability and genius on the ball. Legends like Ococha, Yekin and Kanu did it at the highest level, paving the way for ‘Naija’ —which stands for a future based optimism. Nike was very much aware of this as the jersey also draws subtle design from the first time Nigeria qualified for a World Cup in 94. The most hyped kit in history is a visual stunner that pays homage to Nigeria’s past, present and future. That is why it is one of the best ever.
1. Mexico 98 Home (France)
Sponsor: ABA Sport
Worn by: Luis Hernandez, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Alberto García Aspe
The Story: As an American born to Mexican and Salvadorian parents, my life-long support of the USMNT is quite complicated. The truth it is I grew up rooting against ‘El Tri’. In spite of this blasphemy, I still completely understood that Mexico’s 98 World Cup kit was the greatest national team shirt ever created. My list is rife with jersey’s that tell a story or incorporate a unique strand of cultural pride. Some subtle, some obvious — ABA Sport went the latter on this one. In many ways this kit was par for the 90s course. It was a big ol’ green shirt, that was accented by a massive collar which matched super-thick red and white sleeve cuffs. What elevated the strip was the Aztec calendar print which graced it’s entirety. It was an unprecedented nod to one of the most influential indigenous Mexican people ever. The Aztec were fierce warriors and even played a game similar to modern day soccer, which they called Tlachtli. Never has a kit more aptly represented the history, blood and ethos of its people. That is why it is the undisputed GOAT.
Although the on pitch play of the Korean National Football team has been lackluster at best, the team came correct off pitch for this years World Cup in Russia. Partnering up with design firm H9PITCH STUDIO, the KFA created a special collection of items that appeal to the world that lives outside of the game. From limited edition patches, skate decks, rings, air fresheners, bluetooth speakers, and bracelets the collection has something for everyone. Not until recent has repping your national team crest been looked at as stylish, but with the younger generation of fans emerging, the clubs and countries must keep up with the popular sense of style. The best part of this entire collection is the federation did it all private label. Avoiding the headache and red tape of the “big brand” the KFA was able to lean on a design group directly connected to the streets of Korea, in turn creating a collection that sends a message to the streets.
The inspiration behind the product stems from an ever growing need for “cool” in the soccer space. With so many small pop up brands entering the market, it seems only fitting that the big clubs and countries start to grasp the new wave of soccer. No longer is soccer tiro pants with the track jacket, or the mom in the mini van, as the key teams begin to take notice of the off pitch style, the growth of the sport will accelerate beyond anything can imagine. Tapping into the movement of the urban community will allow so many more people to be aware of how beautiful the game genuinely is. A gate way to the gam through the world of style.
When it comes to being first, Korea was not the first ones to do this, back in 2014 the USMNT teamed up with the likes of legendary artist Futura, Kayo skate, and Nike to create a players only collection and PSG created a full collection of product for its US Tours in both LA 2016 and Miami 2017, but what Korea did do was break the mold for a federation and open this open to the masses. Allowing the fans of the national team to rep the country with pride and style is one thing, but when the fans of other countries are supporting, you know you have done something correct.
In my opinion, the collection is well rounded, creative and a step in the right direction. Hopefully sooner then later the powers that be inside the clubs and federations will take note. Until then you get one option. You can pick up the full KFA collection now at H9Pitch.