Moving Beyond the Kit: Soccer-Inspired Style

If you look carefully, you’ll see a new menswear trend bubbling to the surface: from streetwear brands to the most high-end luxury retailers, there’s a wave of soccer jerseys and facsimiles destined to flood wardrobes just in time for summer.

Why the sudden interest in footballing fashion, you ask? Well, this summer Germany will be hosting Euro 2024, the quadrennial competition of Europe’s top footballing nations. While it’s not quite the World Cup, it’s usually an occasion for people to get a little bit more into the game, which tends to have a trickle down effect. 

While there have been some great soccer jerseys over the years and countless well-executed riffs on the style by brands as varied as Supreme and Louis Vuitton, it’s a piece that’s somewhat limited in terms of when and where you can wear it: the weather and the venue need to cooperate. Rather than look to the pitch for style inspiration this summer, why not turn to the terraces and touchlines for a more thoughtful and sartorially-developed take on soccer-core?

Today, there are more and more soccer players seen as fashionable figures whose style can be emulated, but, for a long time, it was the fans that were the ones setting the trends. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was travelling English football fans — particularly those from Liverpool — who helped bring continental brands like C.P. Company, Lacoste, Sergio Tacchini and Stone Island into the U.K. Meanwhile, young Italian fans in Milan cultivated what came to be known as the paninaro look, a mix of Americana and Italian sports and loungewear. By the time the ‘90s rolled around, each fan base had co-opted brands and styles – off-field uniforms that served as a declaration of allegiances for those who understood the code. The Sergio Tacchinis and FILAs of the early casual movement gave way to more proper styles: Stone Island were supplemented with smart polos, while brands like Burberry and Aquascutum became a familiar sight in the stands, too. 

Taika Waititi for SHARP December
Taika Watiti for SHARP December. Photography: Christopher Sherman. Fashion Direction: Sahar Nooraei and Haley Dach. Grooming: Melissa DeZarate (A-Frame Agency). Photo Assistant: Shane D’Acosta. Full Look: Brunello Cucinelli.

It’s within that context, with a rich stylistic history, that fans continue to fill stadia. If the North American mind tends to think of sports-going outfits more casually — a jersey thrown over a shirt after a day at the office – the reality in Europe can be much different, approached with a reverence that rivals that of church outfits. Coaches, from the bristly veterans to young upstarts, once fond of wearing tracksuits on the touchline, have taken note, opting for sumptuous turtlenecks, well-cut suits, elegant derbies and even, occasionally, a pair of double-monk strap shoes. 

Brands now line up to dress national and club teams off the pitch, the most famous examples being Armani and the Italian national team or Thom Browne and FC Barcelona. On a Canadian level, Harry Rosen has dressed CF Montréal in made-to-measure suits from the retailer’s Harold program.

All of that to say: the jerseys are cool, but there’s so much more to tap into when it comes to soccer culture this spring and summer. With that in mind, here are five of our favourite pieces to inject your wardrobe with a sophisticated touch of footballing fever.

Burberry Reversible Check Jacket

Burberry checked jacket
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This reversible Burberry jacket hits two birds with one stone — not only does it nod to football fandom’s long history with functional, lightweight outerwear (you have to stay dry in the stands, after all), but Burberry’s iconic check is a favourite of fans of various persuasions. The black side is a useful, if understated, touch that makes this among the most versatile jackets of the season. ($2,290)

Dior Gray Cotton Blend Track Pants

Dior track pants soccer inspired style
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While looking to the stands and touchlines allows us to dress things up a bit more, there are some occasions that call for sweats. Be that as it may, there’s no reason to compromise on style or substance. Cue Dior’s Gray Cotton Blend Track Pants, crafted with the maison’s savoir-faire and elevated thanks to thoughtful detailing while still retaining a sporty, laidback ease. ($1,500)

Paul & Shark Striped Cotton Polo

Paul Shark Striped Polo
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Good polos are hard to come by. So, when you find one, you buy it. Paul & Shark is another terrace favourite from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the brand has stood the test of time. Inspired by casuals, we’re partial to wearing our knit polos with the plackets fully-buttoned this summer, especially when paired with a sport coat. ($290)

Stone Island Pink Patch Jacket

Stone Island Jacket
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Who says soccer style says Stone Island, but this piece is a bit of a deep cut, especially for any Arsenal fans reading this. Over the last year or so, one Arsenal fan has become a meme within the fanbase, unwittingly ending up in a series of photographs published by other fans, the club or on the TV broadcast. Even when pixelated and out of focus in the background the fan in question is always recognizable thanks to his flat cap and peach jacket, much like this one. Wear it with the collar standing and the flap fastened to feel like a proper away day fan. ($1,355)

Prada America’s Cup Sneakers

Prada America Cup Shoes
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While technically Prada’s America’s Cup sneakers are inspired by sailing and the prestigious competition bearing the same name which Prada is a longstanding sponsor of, the silhouette has all the makings of a terrace staple, with its low, sleek profile, rubber sole, sporty panelling and the pop of Prada red on the tongue. It’s a great way to sport the look, without copying it straight out of the stands. ($1,250)