Creative Soccer Culture

Stylist Natalie Armin Offers Her Take On The Football To Fashion Crossover

The crossover between football and fashion has continuously evolved over the last few years, to the point where it’s now not at all surprising to see football-infused creations displayed on catwalks at fashion shows. But what’s the view on this ever-increasing phenomenon from the other side?

Natalie Armin is an established UK-based fashion and still life stylist. Based in Manchester but working in London and across the UK and Europe, she occupies the perfect position to lend her perspective on the football x fashion crossover, and we were only too happy to sit down and hear her take on the subject.

Styling is almost like a dark art that few people see, how would you describe what you do? 

For me it’s not always showing items in their intended form but to inspire the reader by delivering looks in a way that they’re not intended to be seen but work well. It’s knowing when to not ‘over style’ I like to keep looks simple to make statement pieces stand out.

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How interesting is it for you to apply your approach and fashion in general to football? 

From an advertising approach I work closely on shoots with the players themselves, taking on their opinions & thoughts of how a kit should look. How a kit should fit has changed massively over the years. 

I work within brand guidelines to deliver seasonal kit campaigns, following current trends and creating new ones but from an editorial point of view I want the mixture of rare and match worn shirts that I’ve selected to be seen in a way that they haven’t been seen before by celebrating the players and tournaments they’ve been worn in. 

What trends have you seen come into the game more and more?

The 90s were halcyon days for colour and patterns, those designs have come back around, however the cut and fit has certainly had to be refined to suit the current demands of today’s athletes 

What do and don’t you like about the way football and fashion scenes are merging? 

There is a longevity to the football shirt trend that will certainly outlast the majority of other trends, whilst many hype kids will inevitably turn their back on it there are many out there whose sheer love and passion for football and football shirts will help the trend carry for a good while yet. Football shirts are so much fun, and its great to have license to mix them with high end fashion pieces. 

I think there are some bad attempts by certain non-football brands to try and jump on the trend. The sportswear companies really do this well whilst the fashion brands on the whole maybe less so, but if these guys can collaborate more we will end up with more pieces like the Palace x adidas Juventus collab. 

The sheer love and passion for football and football shirts will help the trend carry for a good while yet"
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Are there some campaigns or shoots in the football world that you had a lot of time for? What was it about them?

There have been some great shoots over the past couple of years. I’ve tried to do something a bit different with high end pieces whilst being still wearable. Some of the iconic vintage pieces are valuable but easily accessible, with so many people seeming to be putting them on their ‘friends’ and shooting them in front of a graffiti covered wall.

I hope that brands start to step away from the usual shoot scenarios we're so used to seeing, and they start to create more high end concepts in order to stand out from the crowd.

Are there any future trends you can predict?

I really want people to pay attention to cycling jerseys. Some of the patterns and colourways are stunning. The whole cycle culture is one everyone should explore and take inspiration from.

What players have a good eye do you think and what makes them stand out?

Tom Davies at Everton certainly has an eye for what looks good, and he's a really nice, cool, down to earth guy too. I love that he’s not afraid to experiment with his style. And of course Hector Bellerin knows what’s what.

For this editorial, why did you pick the shirts you have and what is it about them you appreciate most?

The usual suspects are a little overused now; the 1991 Arsenal away, the 1990 Man Utd away etcetera so whilst I wanted to carry on using bright colours and bold designs I wanted to step away from the designs everyone knows and already loves, I wanted to highlight some of the more under-appreciated Football Associations so I sourced a selection of African and Caribbean national shirts, those guys have some of the best designs and colourways.

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Football shirts have this strange ability to unlock childlike excitement – why do you think that is?

Nothing but nostalgia. You see a shirt from your childhood and you instantly see a childhood hero wearing it. The goals all start to come back. Its also a badge of honour, it’s the uniform of your team.

The majority of football fans have been so since a very early age, and have idolised the very players that wore those same shirts

In order to keep pushing the game forward and elevate it, styling and strong photography go hand in hand – do you think there’s a danger of football shirts becoming over saturated? Football shirts as a whole?

No. But certain football shirts, yes, we are already there. You can see the same shirts on the same accounts on a daily basis, I appreciate nostalgia sells, but it’s the responsibility of the top brands to create future classics rather than rehashing established classics.

Where do you think the retro or vintage love in of kits comes from?

See above [Laughs].

How much appetite do you have to explore where football can go? Where does your imagination go if you were given a blank canvas for a project?

There is a certain conservatism involved in the design of football shirts, this is a mix of brands and clubs not wanting to upset fans, the whole point is less about creating a uniform for the team to wear but more about creating a product to sell. If the product doesn’t appeal it doesn’t sell. That’s why, in my opinion, many of the classics people love are change strips and goalkeepers shirts. It’s as if when designing these particular shirts the constraints were lifted and the designers could really let loose and have fun.

You see a shirt from your childhood and you instantly see a childhood hero wearing it"
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Photography: Jon Shard 

Assistant: Gary Conway 

Stylist: Natalie Armin 

Grooming: Samantha Metcalfe 

Models: Jamal & Yahya @Brother Models 

Football Shirts: Classic Football Shirts

Daniel Jones

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