The launch of FIFA 21 is just around the corner, and it’s set to bring with it an expansion to the VOLTA aspect of the game, with more ways to play, more customisation, and more locations. And as part of this, EA Sports has also introduced special VOLTA squads for the biggest cities in the world, made up of the biggest influencers and street footballers on the scene.

Meeting where football and culture come together to showcase the unique style of street football, VOLTA offers an unmatched take on the game we all love – just look at the recently released soundtrack for evidence of is diverse and worldwide reach. And for FIFA 21 it continues to develop, with the introduction of Squads: 14 teams that are set to represent their respective nations on the global stage. Focusing on London squad, or LDN FC, we see influencers Jamie Shawyer aka LDN Movements, Elz the Witch, Ben Black, Michael ‘Timbsy’ Timbs, and Jack aka Street Panna, the current Panna World Champion all brought together under the experts tutelage of one Ian Wright. The ingredients for success were all there. All that was needed was a uniquely identifiable look that embodied the team's home city… Step forward designer Andy Slater.

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As the team got together for some 'training', adorned in their newly revealed kits, we spoke with Slater about the process and challenge behind designing a shirt for the FIFA franchise, the details on the story behind the design, as well as seeing it made real.

Andy, what’s your take on where football shirts find themselves now and where can you take things with the work you’ve done for EA?

I think shirts are looking better than ever. We’re seeing brands and clubs really push the boat out with designs, take Inter Milan’s home kit for instance, their traditional branding has been reimagined and the outcome looks great. I’d love to eventually put my own spin on these club kits and bring some concepts to life but appreciate the new designs are heading in the right direction.

It’s my first time working with EA and I’ve really enjoyed the project. I’m used to designing with smaller clubs who rarely give you much freedom so It’s a nice challenge to be given free reign. Hopefully I’ll be back working on more FIFA kits in the future but until then, I’ll carry on my concepts and work towards releasing my own set of shirts.

Where do you even start when creating a football kit, does your mind explode at the start?

My first instinct is to think of colour. A nice colour can set the tone for a shirt and do the majority of the work for you. I usually like to include something meaningful into designs but appreciate that some of the most iconic shirts are just simple stripes! If I’m stuck for ideas I’ll look at vintage shirts and find a lot of my designs take inspiration from shirts of the past. Besides that I look into patterns and work with geometric shapes to create a design.

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What was the brief and can you tell us about some of your favourite elements you’ve brought out in these kits?

The brief was to design a kit for VOLTA FOOTBALL on FIFA 21 that embodies London and makes the city proud. We looked at last year’s LDN VOLTA shirt and decided to stick with the same Black/Red colourway to build a theme that can be continued. We wanted elements of London to be included that didn’t scream ‘tourist’, something more subtle, so we worked on a pattern based on the Thames to use as a base. Whilst some aspects are quiet, the rest of the shirt is definitely loud! The use of the ‘LDN’ sponsor makes it instantly recognisable and the red graphic represents the hustle and bustle of London. One of my favourite aspects of the shirt is the aqua accents, it was a late addition to the shirt and I’m glad we added it, it really makes the base colours pop.

How does it feel to see them on people and worn?

It never gets old. Seeing players and people you’ve seen on TV wearing something you’ve designed is always a nice feeling. It makes me appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given, there’s some really talented designers out there and I know I’m lucky to be a part of a project like this. 

Where do you look at trends and what trends have you seen in the space that you wanted to bring in here?

I’ve recently delved into graffiti and found myself taking a lot of inspiration from artists like Felipe Pantone, 2501 and Demsky. I’ve learnt to add texture through their work, adding layers like building a cake and this is definitely something I’ve brought to the VOLTA shirt.

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Seeing players and people you’ve seen on TV wearing something you’ve designed is always a nice feeling. To be part of a game I’ve played for over a decade is a massive moment"

What do you think the future is for football shirts, are there styles you predict we’re going to see?

I think we’re going to see kits getting more and more creative. We’ve seen over the last few years that shirts are moving away from templates and becoming more bespoke, which everybody wants! In 10 years time we’ll look at kits released recently as some of the best there’s ever been. 

We’ve recently been introduced to fashion collaborations which I can only see growing, eventually I expect to see artists, musicians and designers being brought in too. The likes of PSG x Jordan and Juventus x Palace has opened the door to endless possibilities and we’ve only just scratched the surface.

Esports is exploding - do you think it is a culture that could heavily influence football from here on?

It’s crazy to think how much E-Sports has grown in such a small period of time. It wouldn’t surprise me if E-Sports audience sizes overtook live game viewing numbers and their fans have to be accounted for. With the amount of money in gaming I’m sure we’ll start to see brands getting involved and collaborate on shirts that could flood over into football. Could clubs E-Sport teams have unique kits that are available to buy? Absolutely. We’ve already seen EA working alongside Adidas to release 4th shirts for some of the world’s biggest clubs and it wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes a norm.

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What’s it like to see them in the game from a fans perspective - that’s a milestone moment for anyone’s career isn’t it?

It’s great! To be part of a game I’ve played for over a decade is a massive moment for myself. I’ve had shirts in previous FIFA games, but nothing of this magnitude so to be asked to design the London VOLTA kit and for it to be in VOLTA FOOTBALL in FIFA 21 is amazing.

If you could design a kit for anyone or any club, who would it be? What direction would you take it in?

It’s a tough question, when I think about it, there’s so many different teams and brands I’d like to work with for a variety of reasons! I’d love to design something for Man United with them being the team I support. Paris Saint Germain for their link to fashion and then Ronnie Fieg for being one of my biggest influences. However, I think I’d have to go with the England national team. In a sense it doesn’t get any better than designing your nation’s kit and I would love to work alongside a British brand to make something memorable that crosses the fashion x football world.

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EA SPORTS FIFA 21 is available to pre-order now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.