THE RIGHT WAY OF BLENDING STREETWEAR WITH SPORTS

PUMA has rolled a fresh new collaborative capsule with Chinatown Market in anticipation of this year’s NBA Draft. Chinatown Market, which is primarily an online retailer of culture-inspired goods, sought to reenergize PUMA’s Basketball division with a set of cheeky graphics that serve as more than just another stock draft tee you would get from a major sportswear retailer. The capsule was sold during a one day pop-up event at PUMA’s Brooklyn HQ (sorry folks).

Among the collection, the long-sleeve tee rocked by draft prospect Deandre Ayton, generated the most buzz, and for good reason. Though not directly related to the world of soccer, the many labels and minds inspired by the beautiful game can take a few notes at what was had by this collaborative collection. It’s true, we all love when a streetwear label crafts a shirt that pays its respects to a classic football kit – whether by using its name in place of a sponsor, using a club’s colors and stripes, or designing a one off crest. But are we really going to keep pretending like its not getting played out after seeing the same formulaic approach time and time again?

Soccer and streetwear will always share a symbiotic relationship, borrowing elements from one another in further propelling each in its own right. What the PUMA x Chinatown Market capsule does right is bring the playfulness of sport back into fray. Labels need to start bringing back the simple emotions and graphic elements we associate to the game. Whether it be a childishly-drawn He-Man nutmegging a hapless Skeletor, or a shirt with a club’s cherished (and perhaps unapologetic) chant displayed in an equally timeless typeface, let’s start paying homage to the vibe we hear and see in the stands and the streets rather than just that of the kit and pitch.

#FOLLOWTHEFLAG: SUPPORTING OUR KOREAN BROS DURING WC

Death, tax evasion and national team flags being used as capes and makeshift blouses – these are the constants of global soccer. And yet for all the creatively draped flags worldwide, we still haven’t seen anything quite like this.

Friend & Fam of KTTP Raymond An took a sewing machine and over $3000 US dollar’s worth of officially-licensed World Cup kit paraphernalia and pieced together the most loving reinterpretation of the South Korean flag, AKA “Taegukgi,” in recent history.

“I needed a Korean flag to take to Russia. I just moved to LA from the DMV and left my flag back at my home… Jerseys are always on my mind, and I wanted to create a flag, rather than buying one, to be a bit different than the rest.”

Stitched together from 31 of the 32 participating nations of the World Cup (He’s still looking for a Denmark kit) the fabric and crest of each national team is sewn into a portion of the larger tapestry of the red, white blue and black of the Republic of Korea.

His purpose for the creation of the flag is two-fold. The first is to conduct a genuine cultural exchange with the global soccer community and enhance Korea’s standing in it.

“I wanted to do whatever I can to raise more awareness for friends of mine as well as the general public around the world that Korea is well represented in the World Cup by its fans.”

While the second does not mince words when it comes to challenging Korean football fans to a more holistic and active approach to supporting than just tuning in for the World Cup.

“The hope here is to turn heads into our direction with this unique flag and convert these heads into actual fans for years to come… Korean football culture has a long way to go and I would bluntly say that our football culture sucks. Our culture is based on results and there aren’t as many passionate fans as other nations. Hopefully, this flag will inspire fellow Koreans out there to see it more as a way of life.”

The passion for global soccer takes on even greater meaning when Ray talks in his native language of kit design. With his credits at Guerrilla FC, Ray’s rendition of the Taegukgi is a living homage to the kits that boast design as unique as its representative footballing culture; each patch a purposeful effort to display those who deserve the shine more prominently, “Jerseys with distinctive patterns on their shirts like the ones in Belgium, Argentina, Germany and especially Nigeria to be shown visibly on the flag.”

A flag is our most visceral symbol. They are created to immediately evoke a people, a government, and its culture. It is a reminder — even amidst some of the negative ideals and notions conjured by FIFA and the World Cup — that many can become one.

In the spirit of global soccer culture, a phrase from across the pond seems apt. You’ve covered yourself in glory, Raynaldinho. We’ll be sure to leave our capes at home.

Keep up with Ray with #FollowtheFlag. And if you’ve got a Denmark jersey, please reach out to the man directly – he brought his sewing machine to Russia.

THE ADIDAS SOBAKOV CAN BE A SOCCER CLASSIC OF ITS OWN

They say some things are just too good to be true. I was certainly in complete disbelief when I first set eyes on adidas’ new soccer-inspired shoe: the adidas Sobakov. The shoe is everything of my wildest shoe dreams except I am not dreaming. These kicks are the real deal and here’s why I think they’re the best soccer lifestyle shoes adidas has come out with as of yet.

The stripes are obviously what draw you in. Their inspiration stems from no other source than one of soccer’s most classic cleats: the adidas Predator Precision. As you’ll recall, adidas recently reissued this cleat and offered a lifestyle option that came with a Boost sole. While many of you, including myself, would not mind having the Predator UltraBoost in our collection, we would not be wrong in saying that we did not miss out on much as rather than a consolation, the new Sobakov is the real prize.

Between the Predator UltraBoost and the Sobakov, one has to admit the UltraBoost will always look like a soccer shoe. The Sobakov, on the other hand, is more subtle in its inspiration and therefore has the potential to not only be more appealing to more people but to also be more versatile in one’s choice of outfits.

The Sobakov has what you call an unassuming elegance that is only further augmented by its shape. The contours, after all, are what I found problematic in adidas’ other soccer lifestyle options such as the latest Predator Tango 18+. That shoe just looked too modern and I couldn’t see anything in it that said Predator to me, even though it was called a Predator. The Sobakov is the complete opposite as I am able to see much more than just a Predator. Despite the references to the adidas Kamanda, the shoe’s shape, especially with that sole, reminds me much more of a Nike Roshe or a Yeezy. Both of these shoes have obviously been overwhelmingly popular amongst consumers and may just provide the wave that the Sobakov can continue to ride.

This connection I draw makes it more apparent to me why the shoe does not look to be packaged as an adidas soccer release. Instead, the shoe looks like it will be an adidas Originals offering even though the soccer inspiration is in much more than just the stripe detailing. adidas has truly exceeded my expectations as rather than merely appropriating the distinct features of a Predator, which I once said was all that was necessary, the brand has now also redefined other features from yet another classic silhouette. Taking inspiration now from the Samba Classic, the Sobakov’s upper makes the Samba’s beloved textured tongue a prime rather than secondary feature. With this, adidas has given us everything we want more of in a shoe that is familiar, but new yet with all the makings of becoming a classic of its own.

There is no info on the release of these as of yet, but make sure to stay tuned to the KTTP IG for all the details.

Images via Sneake Studio.

CUSTOM KITS WITH A LUXURY TWIST

It ain’t easy being a soccer fan right now. On top of managing your sleep and work schedule just to keep up with the World Cup, you might also be having a hard time staying on top of the plethora of releases that are either already available or just on the horizon. One such release which may have escaped our notice, but is now receiving the attention it deserves, is World Soccer Shop’s latest collab with designer Renzo Cardoni. The project takes the kit game to a new level and ensures you’ll be supporting your favorite team in a truly unique way.

The small capsule collection includes jerseys from teams like Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Croatia, and Brazil. Cardoni, however, adds a touch of luxury to each only as he knows how by customizing each player number with hand stitched snakeskin.

I can’t deny that the release packs some serious style, but that style comes attached to a hefty price tag. I like to be balling on a budget, so while this release is not exactly for me, I do appreciate the positive things it might usher. As we all know, the custom kit game – at least when it comes to major retailers – is very limited at the moment. Sure, we have seen some special releases similar to this project, however, kit customization still seems to have a DIY or small brand ethos. The past few years though have proven to me that fans are not satisfied with just a simple jersey anymore. Instead, they like embellishments whether it be unique patches, custom fonts, or simply anything else that will help in inserting a little bit of their own identity into each garment. World Soccer Shop clearly has its ears and eyes on supporter culture and the lifestyle movement. For this reason, I am excited to see what they will cook up next.

The order of the day, however, is their Renzo Cardoni collab which you can grab here.

 

RED STARS DEFENDER CASEY SHORT TALKS OFF-WHITE

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

FORGET NIGERIA’S SHIRT, IT IS CHINA’S TIME TO SHINE

Apologies but this had to be done. I’m saying it; China’s new away kit is so much better than Nigeria’s home kit. There, it’s said. And I’m going to tell you why.

Nigeria’s shirt has dominated the scene since it was revealed back in February, and rightly so. It’s a fantastic kit. Not only is the shirt good but the whole release was solid and Nigeria and Nike worked wonders on the products and reveal itself. It’s skyrocketed Nigeria into the forefront of the kit scene for this World Cup, even though they have next to no chance of taking home the gold. However, they have won the kit game. The shirt sold out within minutes online when it was released, huge queues formed outside NikeTown in London, and other stores and the resell value of the shirt near tripled online (much to the disgust of us football fans, eh? People cashing in on our growing culture).

But let’s discuss overall kit releases this year – not just within the World Cup. And that’s where the Nigeria kit plummets back down to Earth and tastes the loss it has been handed by the King: China Away.

The China kit is a perfect juxtaposition of adventurous yet exquisite. It’s a near perfect shirt, in my opinion. Albeit, China isn’t good enough to even qualify for the tournament, but their kit game is, in my opinion, one of the best. Ranked 73rd in the World rankings, with President Xi Jingping pumping in investment to the infrastructure of the Chinese game, the nation is yet to see any sort of improvement regarding their country’s team. But what a wonderful kit to use that makes them look less of an average footballing side. They may not be very good, but at least they look slick doing so.

A wonderful design is used on the kit; paying tribute to the country’s history and culture, using an exquisite dragon graphic. This was a very bold move, regarding that it could have either went two ways; incredibly bad or spectacularly brilliant. And it went the way of the latter. Combining this with a one-color design in a wonderful black with neon green detailing, the kit pops. It works. It’s so good. I can’t stress that enough.

I mentioned something about the kit being ‘near perfect’ earlier in this piece. Now, I say this based one thing: that DAMN neckline. I’ve argued this on twitter for weeks, ever since it was first revealed and now it needs to be addressed here. If Nike didn’t ruin every kit, even the Nigeria one, with this silly neckline then maybe we’d have a lot of kits regarded better than they are being said to be right now. I know I certainly would rank a lot of Nike’s kits higher if it wasn’t for this. And the fact they’ve put it on this China kit, a kit that so magical, is just upsetting. I’d still rock it though.

It’s a kit that rivals some of the best, and if China were good enough to get in the World Cup, then it would (or at least should) be getting the recognition that Nigeria has been and more. It deserves that, even if they haven’t made it to Russia. It’s just that good. A kit made for the culture. A kit made of us football kit gurus to swoon over. A kit made that is just, to put it simply, incredible.

RECAPPING NIKE CHICAGO’S OFF-WHITE ‘MON AMOUR’ EVENT

This past weekend Nike Football and its Chicago office flew us out to The Windy City to experience the official launch of Nike and Off-White’s much coveted ‘Mon Amour’ soccer-inspired collection. If you’re anything like us – which we’re assuming so hence being on this site – you’re already aware of Nike’s fashion-focused, soccer-inspired efforts with two much talked about designers: Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones. While both are connected by way of being fashion designers, as well as the fact that Abloh took over Jones’ Artistic Director position at Louis Vuitton, their respective collection with Nike couldn’t be any more different.

Jones’ “FOOTBALL REIMAGINED” collection takes on a more avant-garde, all-black aesthetic, whereas Abloh’s Off-White effort pulls design language directly from traditional soccer – or rather football – cues. But we’re not here to talk about the story behind both collections again as we’ve done that here, and a closer look at Jones’ collection is soon to come, so today is all about what we experienced while out in Abloh’s home city of Chicago for the ‘Mon Amour’ activation.

To begin, this was my first time in Chicago, and to avoid boring you with a Dear Diary entry on my personal thoughts and comments, I’ll leave you with I fast fell in love with the city. If you’ve been, I’m assuming you have similar sentiments. If not, I’m sure you’ve heard all about how great it is. The food, the people, the convenience… And no this isn’t sponsored by Chi-Town’s tourism board, it just honestly had a great weekend there! Having landed late on Friday night, it was pretty much a hotel room workstation set up for me save for a cheeky whiskey at a local sports bar down the road. Saturday was the main event day, so come the morning, I linked up with our lead photographer Trisikh from Turfmapp, his team and fellow soccer media man Cooper from Eight by Eight magazine.

We headed out to Douglas Park where Nike Chicago had set up a custom soccer field aptly entitled “HOME FIELD,” which took on the design elements we’ve been seeing from the Off-White x Nike soccer campaign. When we got there, the pitch was already scattered with a mix of Chicago’s local influencers, soccer fans, Nike reps and other well-styled individuals that are connected to the scene in some way or another. I had decided to put on the ‘Mon Amour’ long-sleeve jersey that was waiting in my hotel room upon arrival courtesy of Nike, which unintentionally landed me as the impromptu model for the collection for other media outlets.

Slowly but surely, the other guests started getting kitted out in their own ‘Mon Amour’ gear, putting me much more at ease – behind the camera is more my scene. After getting settled amidst tunes from KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Ye’s ye, and Pusha’s DAYTONA among others spun by DJ’s Vic Lloyd and Kid Clay, we were brought over to the Nike jersey custom station in collaboration with THE BRILLIANCE!. This involved picking out your own heat transfer prints, all custom designed specifically for the event, in a bid to come up with your own interpretation of a ‘Mon Amour’ jersey. After the workshop, guests started gathering in pre-determined teams for a 4v4 tournament, with Trisikh – a much better soccer player than myself – jumping in on behalf of KTTP.

The tournament was rapid fire, with a flurry of back and forths from the mix of players (and skills), but all in all, it was a good excuse to flaunt the ‘Mon Amour’ pieces like they were intended: on the pitch. After the tournament, we enjoyed a little bit of downtime before the “HOME FIELD” became open to the public, which naturally attracted a swarm of Nike fans, soccer heads, and honestly anyone at the park with or without a ball to come and kick around on the pristine pitch. All in all, the event was a great way to bring the Off-White x Nike ‘Mon Amour’ collection to life, all within the place that started it all for Abloh’s enthusiasm towards the beautiful game. Have a look at our exclusive visual recap of the event this past weekend, taken by Trisikh and team, then be sure to check back in for our very own on-the-street lookbook editorial featuring pieces from the colleciton.

I STILL THINK ABOUT THE ADIDAS F50 AND I MISS IT

The F50. Born in 2004 and paved the way for a huge amount of success for adidas, and the players wearing the silo. A boot which has seen different generations come through until it was ditched in 2015 (alongside the Predator, 2015 wasn’t a nice year for me).

adidas launched several generations of the Tunit F50, which was the first generation of speed boots from the Three Stripes. This was a major change in adidas’ boot range and it was made to compete with Nike’s Mercurial range. A boot that had revolutionary technology on it, alongside interchangeable studs which major competitors had not utilized before. This boot was a major play for adidas.

You see the laceless boots being released all the time from major companies now but many aren’t a fan. Something that was very special about the F50 was it had laces, yes, but had a feature where the laces were completely hidden providing a larger striking surface and enhancing control. This was a major trend of the time.

But it wasn’t until the F50 Adizero that I fell in love with the silo. The main reason was, that as a young kid/teenager I adored Lionel Messi (and still do) and the little Argentine wore F50s. I bought into the marketing process behind the F50 and fell for it. I was hooked on the Adizero and hooked on Lionel Messi. From then on, I only wore F50s. The lightest boot on the market, hence the name. The things Messi did in these boots, whether it be the Chameleon colorway, the solar red/yellow colorway or his first signature red/white boots, I loved it and wanted to be like him. And the closest I could get was the boots.

Each season I got a new pair, ready for a fresh start from the last campaign, and it was the F50 Adizero, and more specifically the Adizero MiCoach, that I wanted. Spending all my (or my parent’s) money on the freshest boots on the market was my favorite thing to do. Then, I would pull them on and channel my inner-Messi – albeit it didn’t really improve my talent.

The aesthetic of the boot was beautiful. A delightful design with the SPEEDFRAME, the web design across the upper and the three stripes down the side. Not only this but the colorways adidas released over the course of the Adizero life just increased the amount of love in my heart for the boot.

Following the success of the first generation of MiCoach F50s, the second design came out. And this design was also superb. The web-like design on the upper had gone and it was a one colored upper rather than having two. The stripes had been moved closer to the toes and the heel counter featured a cool sash design. The SPEEDFRAME was still intact. The first colorway was the excellent yellow colorway, debuted by Messi. And from this release, more and more excellent releases followed. There was purple, all black, pink/blue and more.

This was when Messi got a signature boot with the red/white design. An all-time favorite boot release of mine. A wonderful split design, with one half featuring red and the other white. One I adored from first sight.

There is still a chance to cling on to the greatness of these boots. If you’re like me and desperately want a return, adidas have teased us with a Chameleon GLITCH colorway, just like the classic F50s.

There was something about these boots that I loved. The design was incredible. They were revolutionary in terms of tech and weight. They had the greatest player on the planet driving them. What more could you want? Keep your Mercurials. Keep your Preds. Keep your Copa Mundials. I’m taking a pair of these all day, every day. I miss you, old friend. Maybe we will see each other again sometime.

KIM JONES/VIRGIL ABLOH: EXPRESSIONS OF SOCCER

In Desmond Morris’ introspective book The Soccer Tribe, famed-Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho states, “Those who only know football know nothing about football. Those who only see twenty-two men chasing after a ball fail to understand its geometry, its ballet, its psychological depth, its true nature. It is the most faithful representation of human nature and its many faces. It is a tribe where the rationale of tactics, emotion, and the fun of the game all prevail.”

Like the United gaffer, we believe the beautiful game is as much about cultural identity as it is about kicking the ball with your mates. This sense of identity can be seen everywhere, from the pubs and neighborhoods we call home, the clubs we cheer and agonize over, the boots you wear on the pitch to the music, clothing, and kits you don off it. Unlike any other sport, soccer has seamlessly integrated into every facet of culture to the point where it has engendered its very own pocket in the world of fashion.

Enter Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh, two lads who know a thing or two about fashion. Jones, the newly appointed Creative Director of Dior Homme, and Abloh, the man who has just replaced him as such at Louis Vuitton, are back again to stamp their mark at the helms of culture with their latest World Cup campaigns for Nike.

“FOOTBALL REIMAGINED,” as Jones has called it, is his way of reworking the perception of the football pastiche from the confines of the pitch to influences that extend as far as the avant-garde tailoring of London’s Kings Road, coupled with the latest technologies seen across our favorite sportswear garments.

When speaking on the former, Jones states “That whole punk era was all about proportions that gave power to the wearer. I was inspired by the idea of DIY of the time–cutting up and putting things back together–to create something new.” This inspiration has also led to an equally eye-catching sneaker which pays its respects to the iconic mercurial, along with three of Jones’ favorite Nike silhouettes: The Footscape, the Vandal and the Air Max 97.

Abloh, a man who has ascended the fashion ranks like a rocket, views soccer as a portal to his youth, where he remembers listening to hip-hop classics on his way to play high school soccer matches. Dubbed “Football, Mon Amour,” the collection features the Off-White boss’ many soccer memories–from the patterns and numbers he wore to the dots on the juggling lion crest, which Abloh explains is essentially the most optimal points in striking the ball.

When explaining the capsule’s Flyknit Zoom Fly, Abloh says “I wanted to communicate where a player strikes the ball. So, I put dots on the boot; if you’re going to strike the ball, your foot/eye coordination is basically the only variance of chance. That’s what the collection started with, these running shoes that mimic the same as your actual boot on the pitch so that you started subconsciously training all the time. Then I just applied that aesthetic from the bottom up.”

Already reeling off a series of massive campaigns (how about those Super Eagles), Nike is set to release another two smackers with FOOTBALL REIMAGINED, set to release on nike.com and select retailers on June 7, and the Nike x Off-White “Football, Mon Amour” capsule, set to launch on June 14. Have a look at the two collection’s official photo editorials respectively below.

IS THIS NIKE’S BEST CAMPAIGN FOR WORLD CUP 2018?

We’re talking about Nike’s efforts for the full Nigeria National Team’s 2018 World Cup collection – of course. While the sportswear giant has come out with a solid roster of releases for all its sponsored teams for the upcoming global soccer event, it’s safe to say that the buzz surrounding the Super Eagles’ collection is by far Nike’s greatest – the fact that there were three million pre-sale orders for the home kit alone pretty much affirms that. But why is it so great? It’s all about the concept, or rather the ethos behind the campaign. And there’s one word to sum it all up: Naija.

“Naija” is a new term that both Nike and Nigeria’s youth are pushing that represents the spirit of contemporary Nigeria. While the West African country has had its fair share of the negative stigma, it’s often easy to forget the greatness, creativity, passion, and love that comes from its people. Naija is meant to help people see all of that and then some. Spearheaded by the Super Eagle’s young-aged team (the majority of the players are under 25), Naija – or at times referred to as “For Naija” – embodies not only the Nigerian youth’s spirit but also the identities and characters present in the youth-filled team.

This ethos is also pretty evident in the actual design itself, an energy-infused imprint courtesy of Nike Football Design Director Dan Farron and team. “We built this kit and collection based on the players’ full identities. We started to see trends in attitude and energy connecting the athletes to music, fashion and more. They are part of a resoundingly cool culture,” Farron states. But while it’s obvious that Nigerians today understand the new cultural pulse within their country, the same can be felt on a global stand-point, thanks to the diaspora Nigerian communities found the world over. “Naija fashion radiates, and its food is celebrated from Brooklyn, New York, to Peckham, London. In the United States and England, along with other locales with large Nigerian populations, the exuberance of Naija culture is resounding — spurred by family, friends, and football,” Nike explains about the collection.

It’s even felt here in Los Angeles within the Kicks to the Pitch office we call home, where Nike was gracious enough to send us the kits along with the collection’s Superfly and Vapor cleats that continues both the design and Naija concept. From that, we’ve put together an exclusive closer look at the offerings. The collection as a whole actually offers more than that, and actually more than your typical Nike World Cup release. It consists of a home kit, an away version, pre-match and training apparel, jackets and the aforementioned Superfly and Vapor soccer boots, which officially drops today – the only sad thing about the boots is that they won’t be worn be worn by the Super Eagles during the World Cup, but they can be worn by you with them in spirit! Check out our photo shoot throughout, then head over to Nike.com to grab yourself what we consider as Nike’s best campaign for World Cup 2018.