The build-up to the World Cup has seen a certain amount of bravado and swagger as the kits were revealed this spring. Take the England team. Boldly modelled on the look of medieval knights’ armour, according to Nike Football’s global creative director Martin Lotti, they also have references to the St George’s Cross, with a tiny pennant inside the collar – only the players are aware of it. The three lions are metallic, too, and the gleaming white is based on the 1970 England kit while the away kit, in red, which wasn’t worn before England lost their place, was based on the winning team of 1966. Sadly, this triumphal look appeared to be style over substance.
Another team that appears to have put style at the top of the agenda is France, whose home shirt is sartorially exquisite. On-trend rounded white collar on dark-blue recycled polyester; red-stitched lining, and a cockerel embroidered in white (mirroring the cockerel on the blue shorts); and red socks: it’s a well-tailored, patriotic tricolour and every bit as chic as you’d expect from the land of fashion.
The Americans have gone for full-on preppy style, with piqué white collared shirts and a varsity-style crest that would look equally at home on a golf course or college tennis court. Football may not be a national sport in the United States, but they’re certainly bringing some native style to the proceedings.
It’s good to see some more lively kits living up to the vibrancy of the hosting nation, Brazil. Take the Ghanaian kit, made by Puma: predominantly a crisp, simple white, the West Africans, popularly nicknamed the Black Stars, have collars and cuffs pepped up with lively African graphics in the national colours of yellow, green and red.
Cameroon, too, feature lots of pattern, with an all-over design of lions, zigzags and the legend: “Cameroon: Les Lions Indomptables.” The intention may be to distract the opponents and score while they are dazzled by the team’s leonine power.
Perhaps the most dramatic of all, though, is the Mexico shirt, in dark green, which features a symmetrical, graphic lightning bolt on the chest, emanating from the central badge. It’s strangely reminiscent of the luche libre wrestling costumes, and is all the more powerful for it.
World Cup style
With almost half the World Cup viewers being female, there’s been plenty of room for brands, from Havaianas to Converse, to play to an equally enthusiastic audience, offering products that celebrate their countrymen – while being rather more appealing than a polyester football shirt.
• S*uce brings a fashionable spin to the event, with a selection of World Cup-appropriate pieces, but the best of all are the Lego clutch bags featuring flags of the world, Dh2,690. And you’ll be able to carry them for years, because national pride never goes out of fashion.
• Slightly more affordable are Soda POP’s football-themed T-shirts, from FashLink.com, including the comical “Goal Digger” version, Dh165 – one tee you’ll never see sported by the sleek WAGs supporting their beloveds in Brazil.
• Trust the French to come up with a subtle way to show your support for football: the leather goods brand Aigner’s spring/summer collection is inspired by the Brazil venue, with bags and scarves in bright, tropical colours that reflect the culture of Rio – without going out of date as soon as your team goes out of the tournament.
• If you’re looking to sport your national colours while you exercise, Nike has created Tight of the Moment x Federation, a collection of training tights inspired by the national teams of France, Brazil, England and the United States. And while most of them are distinctively patriotic, the French ones would work wherever you hail from, inspired as they are by the birth town of denim, Nîmes.