Designers Virgil Abloh, founder of OFF-WHITE, and Kim Jones approach the beautiful game from two distinct perspectives.
For Abloh, football is an opportunity to blend memories of his youth — playing hip-hop tracks on the way to high school soccer matches, for instance — with his interests in mixing lifestyle and sport branding. It’s big and bold and full of nuanced visual cues. In a word, his collection is predicated on the visceral.
Jones, in contrast, uses football to explore fashion’s cerebral side. He’s taken the sport’s traditional garments — the short, jersey and pre-match jacket — and reworked them in new cuts that change how the proportions of the body appear. The resulting pieces, which were sharply produced by Italian craftsmen, are inspired by London punk style of the ’70s and ’80s and stretch the imagination of what it means to wear a uniform.
NIKE X OFF-WHITE “FOOTBALL, MON AMOUR”
“The great thing about the vocabulary and history of football is that aesthetically it has its own look. I was always inspired by the way European teams have a sponsor printed over the chest. When I was working on this collection, I wanted to celebrate the different variants of typography,” says Abloh.
Additionally, all the numbers refer to those Abloh wore during his playing years. The jersey’s black-and-white checker board is a subtle nod to Czech strips. And the team’s logo, a lion juggling dots, pays homage to ubiquitous crests and the pattern of dots Abloh formed when thinking about how to explain, at the most basic level, the optimal place on the foot to strike a ball.
His shoe, a Flyknit Zoom Fly, is where the collection really begins, naturally, and ties back to Abloh’s rendition of the Mercurial. “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,” he explains.
NIKE X KIM JONES “FOOTBALL REIMAGINED”
“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,” says Jones.
That idea, which informs the process and aesthetic of the garments in Jones’ collection, also transfers to the shoe he designed. A hybrid of his favored sneakers, it may require a double take to spot the references. But Jones is confident in its stance. “I was looking at the silhouette of the Mercurial along with my three favorite Nike shoes: The Footscape, the Vandal and the Air Max 97. Combining these into one shoe is an homage to punk, but with a super-slick end product,” he says.
In concert, the individual pieces teeter from familiar to peculiar.