You know the feeling when there’s a big match coming up for your side and you just don’t know which of your favourite shirts to wear down the pub to watch? Well Arsenal fan Philippe Tabet got around that problem by commissioning Participation Trophy Studio to make a mash-up jersey featuring all of his favourites, celebrating 20-years of Nike x Arsenal at the same time. Easy.

Participation Trophy Studio, the start-up creative studio focused on upcycled and unique soccer apparel, have marked themselves out as specialists in the mash-up game over the last couple of years, producing three one-of-a-kind USA mashup kits back in July 2020, and following that up with a special Bayern Munich ‘Oktoberfest’ Mashup jersey in October of the same year before completing the hat trick with a mashup AS Roma shirt dubbed “Colosseum” in August of this year. Well now you can make it four...

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The 1 of 1 Arsenal mashup kit was created by Participation Trophy Studio for Arsenal FC fanatic and football collector Philippe Tabet. Philippe grew up in London but currently resides in Portland, Oregon and works at Nike. Therefore, the design naturally leans into and celebrates the 20-year period that Arsenal and Nike were together (1994-2014), and is poetically constructed using 20 different kits from that period.

So how does a project like this come about? We caught up with Tabet to get a bit of background around his request and the finished product.

How long have you been an Arsenal supporter and what attracted you to the club?

I’ve followed and supported Arsenal since 2002. I became an Arsenal fan because when I was younger my best friend’s older brother was an Arsenal supporter and he put us on to all their legendary players (Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Slyvain Wiltord, Bergkamp, Campbell, Toure). I’m French so that definitely helped in terms of a sense of connection to Henry, several of those players, and also their manager (Wenger).

I remember going to a game at Highbury with my friend, where the match was actually terrible, but I had the best time ever. A couple weeks later I ended up going to a Chelsea match with my dad, it was an exciting match with an unbelievable goal, but I just wasn’t into it at all. It was some mix of the stadium, the fan, and the energy, but my trip to Highbury was magical and Stamford Bridge didn’t compare. I knew from that point on Arsenal was going to be my club, so even though Chelsea was right down the road for me, we ended up getting season tickets to Arsenal for six years which was special for me to be able to see matches in person.

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Who’s your all-time favourite Arsenal player?

I’ve had a number of favourite Arsenal players over the years. The one that stands out is obviously Thierry Henry, he’s got to be number one, but that being said there was also Viera, Pires and Fabregas. I was lucky enough to play 5-a-side with Pires for a number of years on a recurring basis which created somewhat of a friendship and he taught me a lot about the game. In my early teenage years Fabregas was the top player for me, I aspired to be a CM like him, I grew my hair out like his, wore the headband and everything.

What got you into collecting boots and jerseys?

I can’t think back to one specific moment when I started collecting. I’ve always been obsessed with football products, especially boots when I was a kid. I was constantly trying to get new boots, and it was something my friends would make fun of me for, but there was something about the aesthetics that I was always attracted to.

When I got to university/college I started diving into Ebay and seeing what older boots I could find at decent prices and that’s when my collection really started. It started with Mercurial Vapor 3’s and now I would estimate I have between 70 and 80 pairs, though I don’t know the exact number.

I didn’t really start collecting jerseys until I got to Nike in 2019. They were something I was always interested in but seeing some of Nike’s amazing kit designs up close really made me start going out of my way to acquire kits.

A selection of my boots/jerseys can be seen on my footy page (@philausophoot). Instagram has been a good resource to showcase pieces from my collection and connect with other collectors.

How many jerseys do you have in your collection?

At the moment, my kit collection has close to 100 pieces and that includes a mix of homes, aways, thirds, or even fourths. The clubs and federations I’ve collected the most kits for are probably Arsenal, PSG, France, and USA.

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Do you remember your first Arsenal kit? If so, which was it?

The first Arsenal jersey I ever bought was actually a 2002 blue away kit from the O2 years with Viera on the back which I still have to this day. To see that kit worked into this mashup design was really special.

What’s your favourite Arsenal kit of all time?

It’s probably an unconventional answer but the 2012 striped purple and black away kit is a personal favourite. I got it in a long sleeve with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the back.

What made you want to commission and create this custom Arsenal kit?

Obviously, there have been tons of great Arsenal jerseys over the years. I wanted to commemorate some of the best Nike x Arsenal designs which was an iconic partnership for the club and across football. I miss being able to get their newest kits and this was a fun way to have something new and unique to represent Nike and Arsenal.

What did you expect from this mashup? How did it compare in-person?

When I commissioned the piece I was inspired by the print and kit that Nike made right before the Nike x Arsenal partnership ended. The prints were sold in limited numbers while the kit was never available for purchase and I believe it resides in the Arsenal Football Club Museum now. Owning a unique variation of that is something that instantly brings back a lot of memories of Arsenal and their heritage. It’s also something that’s unique, visually appealing, stands out a bit and is very much my style.

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Photography by by Zack Dean

See more work from Participation Trophy Studio here.