With the finals of the FIFA World Cup coming up this Sunday, pitting France against Croatia, it seems like a good time to look at the impact of the competition on the world of high fashion, officially licensed and otherwise.
Here are some of the strategies involving fashion labels, designers, sports licensors, and retailers trying to capitalize on awareness of the global sports event:
- Official fashion collaborations with FIFA, teams, and/or athletes. Louis Vuitton has been a partner with FIFA since 2010 and this year designed a series of leather bags inspired by a soccer ball and the red, white, and blue colors of host country Russia’s national flag. Bikkembergs, a Belgian label that produces the off-field apparel for the Russian team, is creating a FIFA World Cup capsule collection of t-shirts, shorts, shoes, and jackets, also in the colors of the Russian flag. And e-commerce site World Soccer Shop paired with designer Renzo Cardoni to create snakeskin-embellished limited-edition versions of the jerseys worn by a leading player from each of seven national teams, including Lionel Messi of Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, and Neymar Jr. of Brazil.
- Designer collaborations with the licensees of kits and authentics programs. Nike, which outfitted 10 countries in this year’s competition, paired with designers Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh/Off-White for streetwear-inspired luxury collections of sweatshirts, football jerseys, and shoes inspired by football uniforms. Adidas, which made the kits for 12 clubs in the tournament, paired with Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy for a collection that combines the designer’s streetwear sensibility with imagery of the Russian flag and the three Russian host cities. Adidas also worked with Ronnie Fieg and Kith for a gold uniform set, bag, sneakers, scarf, and track jacket. Umbro, which outfits Peru, paired with fashion label Akomplice for a collection of athleisure wear and with designer Christopher Raeburn on six retro-style fashion pieces.
- Independent World Cup-inspired fashion collections. Dolce & Gabbana created a football-and-graffiti-themed assortment timed to the event, including t-shirts, pullovers, tracksuits, sneakers, and caps. In addition, Furla released a capsule of leather bags and purses featuring imagery inspired by Russian nesting dolls; the items are being sold only in Russia. Neither of these is officially licensed but each takes its cues from the competition and/or the host country.
- Group designer promotions. A number of group collections are themed to the World Cup (but not licensed) this year. Buro 24/7, a digital lifestyle publication based in the Middle East, partnered with ecommerce site Farfetch for the fourth annual Buro Fashion Forward Initiative to promote young designers from Russia and surrounding countries; this year the program was opened to seven global designers, with each reimagining a football kit in honor of the Cup. Pepsi’s latest #LoveItLiveIt campaign brought in clothing labels Anteater from Russia, Boohoo and Umbro from the U.K., Le Specs from Australia, and New Era from the U.S. for an “Art of Football” capsule collection of streetwear and accessories that also highlights five emerging visual artists from around the world. Yoox collaborated with lifestyle publication SEPP and 14 designers, from Vivienne Westwood to Marques Almeida to Koché, each creating an item inspired by the flag or uniform of their home country’s team.
- Russian retail programs. Russian designers play a key role in many of these initiatives, in keeping with the fact that Russia is this year’s World Cup host country. Russia’s retailers are also getting into the act. Moscow-based fashion concept store Aizel created a Russian Essentials collection with close to 20 young Russian designers, from Artem Brivda to Zasport, including t-shirts and sweatshirts, jewelry, beauty items, and matryoshka dolls. Gum department store collaborated with Russian brand BoscoFresh and Paul Smith for a high-profile football-inspired collection; BoscoFresh and Gum have the same corporate owner. Gum also sells the Louis Vuitton and Furla collections, offers a FIFA fan shop in-store, and is boosting its array of apparel and accessories by Russian designers, with permanent space being devoted to this merchandise after the tournament as well.
These initiatives, in all their configurations, reflect the increasing intersection between high-end fashion and the world of pro sports.
A heads-up: The July edition of Raugust Communications’ e-newsletter comes out next Tuesday, July 17, 2018. If you do not yet subscribe to this free publication, you can do so here. The Licensing Topic of the month will take a look at shoppable content, while the research spotlight, Datapoint, focuses on food-to-food licensing.