With the 2018 FIFA World Cup coming up this summer in Russia, it seems like a good time to take a look at the growing number of football-inspired lifestyle labels on the market, many of which are linked to licensing in some way. These are apparel and accessories brands that capture the sensibility of the sport of football (soccer) and are geared toward consumers who love “the beautiful game.” But they are not associated with a particular team, league, or other sports entity.
Recent initiatives take three major forms:
- Corporate collaborations. Pepsi launched a campaign celebrating football this year called Love It Live It, which encompasses a series of fashion capsules. The latest iteration, announced in late April, involves partners including Boohoo, Umbro, Le Specs, New Era, and Anteater. Similarly, Nike teamed this year with designers Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh on two collaborations timed to the World Cup, with Jones creating reimagined, punk-style pieces and Abloh offering his take through a streetwear lens. Finally, Eight by Eight, a New York-based soccer magazine start-up, collaborated with Fan Ink Limited’s Fi Collection, a football lifestyle brand and soccer licensee, for a snapback cap featuring its soccer club-style logo.
- Licensee brand extension. Admiral Sportswear, a U.K.-based licensee for football clubs around the world, has been focusing since 2014 on licensing its proprietary Admiral brand into football performance gear, retro fashion, and casual football-inspired pieces.
- Retro and fictional clubs. Corinthians 1882 is a fashion label named after and inspired by the Corinthians football club, an early and influential organization in the sport that helped popularize soccer globally more than 100 years ago before going defunct in 1939. The luxury menswear brand launched last fall with a 17-piece collection and is actively seeking partners for collaborations. Separately, Sophnet, a Japanese fashion label, debuted a brand tied to a fictional club, F.C. Real Bristol, and has released multiple fashion capsules each year since 2016. It has collaborated with fashion labels such as Nike and WTAPS and with characters including Peanuts.
Most of these initiatives are high-end and fashion-forward collections that incorporate or are inspired by elements of the football kits that fans are used to seeing on the soccer pitch.