The relationship between fashion and football is nothing new.
First it was the fans, the so-called casuals who became style pioneers in the 1970s and ’80s, importing European luxury brands like Stone Island and Fila before anyone else, and inventing terrace fashion in the process. Football is fashionable again, with street wear brands giving fans lovely master pieces so they dress to kill for their teams.
Football and fashion have always been teammates. From terrace culture to the rise of on-pitch style icons like David Beckham, ever-increasing sums of money being poured into the beautiful game have meant that fashion was never going to be far behind.
Despite all this, the current meeting point of football and fashion feels different. It feels like we’re experiencing a moment. Conventions are changing and for once, wearing a football shirt in public is no longer taboo. Back in the days they were only worn during matches, these days they can be worn anywhere, even to offices during days when people wear casual hence it all began with the casuals.
To look forward you’ve got to look back and the stories are well known. Batswana fans for various teams, enjoying unprecedented success for their teams, gallivanting around the country and shopping as they went.
The stories go that the travelling support couldn’t believe their luck when they walked into several sports shops and not one but two shoes in a pair were on display. The pairs were easy pickings for sticky-fingered fans and soon those on the terraces were clad in Adidas trainers, many of which have seen comebacks of late in the forever lucrative reissue cycle.
The fashion arrived in Africa then Botswana. Trainers weren’t the only pieces they brought back; they bought Polo shirts tracksuits. Continental brands infiltrated the native fashion ecosystem like foreign species of squirrel. Kappa, Adidas, Ellesse, Diadora, Lotto, Sergio Tacchini, Hugo Boss and so on.
Local sports analyst Jimmy George says football fan’s regalia goes a long way in revealing the quality of the fans as highlighted above. He said “A fan who buys their team’s replica adds value compared to one who puts on that of a European team with similar colors.
“Fans mostly opt for team replica to games; fans are aligning themselves with what is happening worldwide. In our country a replica is accessible to get maybe not affordable,” George added. Moreover, he added that competition these days is stiff and people have shown great support for local teams, replicas and brands.
The Botswana Guardian and Midweek Sun sports reporter Kabelo Gadise said across the world, spectators have a sense of pride when it comes to donning their football regalia, adding that fans take pride in their association with a certain team or even the game of football.
He said: “Spectators always dress for identification and to be recognized as well as to be colligated with their team, currently a vivid common trend, showcased that fans put on the colors of the team they love, more frequently when you attend games even when their team is not playing. For example, at the Obedi Itani Chilume stadium in Francistown was recently divided into orange and blue in the mascom top 8 by the fans through the team replica.”
“When fans buy team replica, they overlook name brands, although they might have felt a certain brand could have done a finer and adorned replica, they still buy the product their team came up with,” Gadise opined.
He further added that football culture is not as dynamic as many cultures across. He said “it is a unique one; it is not susceptible to change. As long as the fans have a strong bond and association with the team, they will don any brand their team badge on.
“Locally football merchandise is hardly available to fans; it is easier to get a Barcelona jersey than to get a local team jersey from most local shops. Additionally, most of the teams set high prices on their merchandise, hence delaying other fans to get the replica for the team they love,” Gadise noted.
Moreover, Gadise added that teams are just laid back.”He said “They are not using the necessary resources and technological advancements to get their merchandise to spectators. I mean it takes two weeks to order a Barcelona jersey from Europe to Africa, if local teams could use their websites for fans to buy merchandise on line it would be better and ideal.