Casual: The dress code of supporters

Image courtesy of James Geraghty

As the FA Cup Final approaches, we take a look at how football and sport has influenced British fashion

Sportswear has taken over menswear over the past few decades and today is a stronger trend than ever.
Tracksuits and trainers made their way onto the runways of menswear fashion week three years ago, following the emergence of young designers such as Matthew Dainty, Ben Cottrell, Christopher Shannon and Gosha Rubchinskiy. Redirecting menswear classics into casual styles, sportswear pieces have soon become must have luxury items.

In addition, celebrity endorsement has become the latest hype in sportswear – Adidas and Puma have upscaled their products, collaborating with big names, Rihanna and Kanye West, presenting premium-priced collections at New York Fashion Week.
The sportswear resurgence as part of the fashion industry today reflects the dominance that the Casual trend had throughout Britain during the late 1990s.

When the UEFA Euro’s landed in England in 1996, the 90s saw an increase in patriotism surrounding football culture, generating a new-wave of subcultures, including Britpop, Hooliganism and Casual.
Pride in Britain and a sense of ‘Britishness’ was emphasised through music and style as Lightning Seed’s ‘Three Lions (Footballs Coming Home)’ topped the UK charts at number one, and Britpop icons such as, Oasis, Blur, Suede and The Spice Girls dominated worldwide popular media with their British themed lyrics and iconography. The music was Britpop and the style was Casual; a Cool Britannia era was on the rise.

As supporters congregated in local pubs throughout the country to watch England play on screen, the look of European sportswear brands soon caught on as supporters abroad filled their suitcases with newly-discovered brands such as Kappa and Diadora. As hard-to-come-by items, the rarity of the international brands felt unique and luxurious, quickly becoming must-haves across England. “Casual culture centred solely around the football and fashion, which was solely influenced by the looks and styles worn by their European counterparts they encountered as they followed their English [football] clubs abroad. European fashion was bright and sharp and full of colour, a stark contrast to the drab greyness of seventies England” says Wayne Walton.

Known by his 15.5 thousand Instagram followers as @adidas_super_trabs, Wayne Walton describes himself as a “simple lad with an unhealthy obsession for training shoes.”
Based in Durham, Walton runs an Instagram feed focused upon the revival of the Casual, Mod and Britpop subcultures during late twentieth-century Britain. His fanzine-like collection of images pay homage to the sports brands of the era, whilst captions quote the lyrics of Blur, Happy Mondays

and Oasis, in admiration of the artists and style icons of the Casual movement that dominated the 2000s.
“The Diadora Borg Elite as worn by Bjorn Borg, was a must have trainer for those on top of their game in casual circles. That trainer, above all others, is regarded by many as the one that epitomised the whole era.”

Supplies of European brands such as Diadora, Adidas and Kappa rapidly became easily accessible. Groups of boys began to wear the look in groups – a uniform was realised and a subculture was quickly established. “It was a look that was stolen from the Italian paninaro and re- appropriated by working class kids who were being grossly mistreated by the British establishment.” explains Dan Sandison, Editor-In-Chief of mens style and football publication, Mundial Magazine.
“Casual culture, and Britain’s greatest style moments have come from embracing other cultures, not by excluding them.” Similarly to Skinhead and Rockers, the appropriation of alternative cultures inspired British youth to form their own styles – in this case, Italian and German sportswear bred a new wave of subculture and evoked a fresh style amongst Britain’s young men.

Image courtesy of Homes of Football

Once more, the essence of casual has hit the mainstream in recent years. As luxury product dominates media – down-to-earth, easily accessible and recognisable sportswear brands have begun to feel attractive again.
“On the surface it just appears as a trend, but I think it’s much deeper. It reflects attitudes of current modern day life, especially in the UK and Russia”, designer James Geraghty believes.

Born and raised as a Queens Park Rangers supporter, James Geraghty, also known as Gezza, grew up surrounded by football culture and its fans. Recently graduating from Kingston University’s fashion department, Geraghty’s final collection takes literal inspiration from football and the supporters’ dedication to the nation’s most loved sport. Recreating the crests of top Premier League clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea, Geraghty invented his own fictional team, replacing well-know emblems with his own. Shirts and open side-seam trousers are at the core of Geraghty’s collection, whilst football scarves, embroidered with his “Geraghty F.C” logo, cover the body and piece together to form jackets and jumpers.

Geraghty is not the only one taking literal inspiration from football. The football shirt and scarf have recently been spotted on the runways of high fashion brands throughout the world.
Polish brand MISBHV presented their own line of branded football shirts and scarves for winter 2017, whilst Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy recently resurrected the disregarded sports brands Kappa, Sergio Tacchini and Fila for summer 2017 collection, a collection described by

Dazed & Confused as “deliberately opting for vintage sportswear from brands now no longer considered fashionable”.
Similarly, Liverpudlian designer Christopher Shannon played with unfashionable sport references for his Summer 2017 menswear collection, with the recognisable Sports Direct logo translated into a motif spelling ‘Lovers Direct’ printed across a line of t-shirts and bags.

The casual style has well and truly found its way from the stadiums to the catwalks as brands synonymous with the casual subculture are making a comeback, revitalised by the fashion designers of today, such as Geraghty, Rubchinskiy and Shannon.
As a new generation revive the sporty styles of the noughties, original Casuals such as Dan Sandison and Wayne Walton, along with many others across the UK, continue to stay part of the subculture. Sandison’s bi-annual magazine, Mundial, celebrates football culture alongside corresponding fashion features, whilst Walton’s Instagram feed remembers the music icons and brands that shaped the Cool Britannia era.

Evidently, the dress code of devoted football fans still exists in its authentic state today and stays relevant with an adaptation to the social media age of today and revitalisation on the catwalks of major brands.

Words by Emily Gallagher

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