Creative Soccer Culture

How Virgil Abloh Changed The Fashion Of Football

Some news just hits you hard and takes the wind out of your sails. Over the weekend the tragic news broke that Virgil Abloh had passed away following a battle with cancer. The groundbreaking fashion designer absolutely blew open the doors for what football fashion really could be, and his legacy will never be forgotten.

There are people that will leave their mark on the world. Then there are others that don’t just leave a mark, they radically alter the conventional, shaping it in their own design. Virgil Abloh’s talents were immeasurable, and as he shifted the perception of what was possible in fashion on his rise as the first Black creative director at Louis Vuitton and creative director of his own brand, OFF-WHITE, he grew to become one of the most influential people in the world. And he used that influence in part to change the very fashion of football, carving a new path for others to follow and shifting the direction of football culture forever.

Like the PSG x Jordan collaboration, Abloh’s barrier-breaking introduction into the game highlighted the incredible potential of crossing cultures. Here was a man from a professionally fashion-based background, working for Louis Vuitton and with his own label in OFF-WHITE, and yet, like so many others he had a passion for the beautiful game that stemmed back to his childhood. For Abloh though, partnering with Nike gave him the opportunity to return to this love, exploring the possibilities of combining his two great passions. 

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Back in 2017, the burgeoning football x fashion world wasn’t quite sure what it was or where it was heading as it tentatively trod on very fresh ground. But the potential was there and Virgil Abloh was the man brave enough to step forward and show the world what was possible. He already had a big fan in the form of superstar-in-the-making Kylian Mbappé, who was an admirer of Abloh’s ‘The Ten’ OFF-WHITE x Nike sneaker collection, and the two were able to show their mutual appreciation for one another with the quite unique Nike x Virgil Abloh Mercurial 360, marking the designer’s first foray into the boot scene. This was proper limited edition luxury, and a perfect symbol of the synergy between football and fashion, shown off on the feet of one of the most promising ballers in the game.


By this time the rumours had already been circulating about a World Cup-inspired collaboration between Nike and OFF-WHITE, and sure enough the the much anticipated ‘Football, Mon Amour’ collection arrived in June 2018, redefining the football x fashion landscape. Speaking about the collaboration Abloh said: "The great thing about the vocabulary and history of football is that aesthetically it has its own look. I was always inspired by the way European teams have a sponsor printed over the chest. When I was working on this collection, I wanted to celebrate the different variants of typography.

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The influence of his earlier Mercurial design was once again present, carrying though what was a signature look on to the Flyknit Zoom Fly sneaker. “[With the Mercurial] I wanted to communicate where a player strikes the ball. So, I put dots on the boot; if you’re going to strike the ball, your foot/eye coordination is basically the only variance of chance. That's what the collection started with, these running shoes that mimic the same as your actual boot on the pitch so that you started subconsciously training all the time. Then I just applied that aesthetic from the bottom up. 

The collection and the feeling behind it showed Abloh’s deep appreciation for the athletes in the game, and the sacrifice and dedication that they pour into their trade; this was not just some fashion designer creating a collection for the sake of it – this was a football fan combining his talents from the fashion world with his love of football. It marked Abloh out as a pioneer and one of the first ‘Cross Cultural Designers’ to mark his influence on the game.

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By smashing that door well and truly open, it allowed other designers to follow. Virgil Abloh’s work paved the way for a new generation of creatives, opening up the realms of what is possible in Football Culture by changing the way people perceived it, and for that we will forever be grateful.

Daniel Jones

The Creative Soccer Culture Brief

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