The Womens World Cup is a few months away, and as of two nights ago, the Matildas are set to be the best-dressed squad on the Parisian pitch. The kit was designed by Nike designer Cassie Looker, who is also responsible for not only the look of the French Football Federation, but also Paris Saint Germain – yes, that was her work you saw on the PSG x Jordan collab.

Complex AU spoke to Cassie about the innovation and inspiration that went into the Matildas kit.

What really stands out to me about this jersey is the connection to graffiti. In the 80s and early 90s, Melbourne’s graffiti scene was one of the best in the world. For the longest time, it was looked at as this menace to society, then eventually the city embraced it, and now to see it on a national jersey is really unexpected. Where did that come from?

It's really with our design team. We work with an amazing crew of designers, and they really take the time to sit down and think about the team that they're designing for. For the Matildas they thought about Australia and also thought about this team and how young and exuberant they are. 

A lot of times [the designers are] really drawn to the art scenes in specific countries. I think looking at the graffiti that's here, it's so amazing and so colorful and so beautiful, just imagine what that could look like on pitch, and what about marrying that urban street culture with also the amazing landscape here in Australia, what would that look like? What if we put those two things together? What would that look like? It's this super energetic graphic, and it's so distinct. I think when you see the girls come out on pitch, you're like, "Whoa, that's Australia!" It's kind of like the next Nigeria. Coming into a World Cup, I think people are going to look at that and just think, "Man, that is cool.” And so for Nigeria going into World Cup last year on the men's side, Nigeria kind of became everyone's second team that they rooted for. So I could really see that happening here with this.

It's really interesting you say that because that's the first thing that I thought of was Nigeria. That jersey was so popular, so many of my friends wanted one. Does that sort of become part of the consideration in the design process of the desirability for the fans?

That's part of it, but it's really taking root in the story of who the team is. And often, what the result of that is, is something that takes off like Nigeria. I don't think that we're briefing this in and saying, "Hey, can you make the next Nigeria kit?" We're going like, "Hey, this is Australia. They're really special. There's a lot of great things happening there. What could that look like coming to life in a graphic?" And it just so happens, in this case, it came together in this amazing way, and I think people are going to be really drawn to that.

I agree, and looking at this jersey, I think all those same friends of mine are going to want one. And the decision to put the print onto the sock as well, that's very unique to this kit.

Yeah. When we're designing a kit, we're looking at it head-to-toe and also what it looks like in relation to the away. And taking into account, if we have an amazing graphic like this, how does that sit together? What is the colour of the short? Dark and light graphics? Toned down graphics? And I think in this case we're like, "Wow, this is super strong. What could that look like in a sock?" And we put it together, and actually that looks amazing. And so I think that everyone really gravitated towards that and were like, "Yeah, let's push that ahead, let's do that.”

Nike designer Cassie Looker with Australia Matildas jersey
Image via Nike

Now, also, you were talking just briefly about accommodating for the lower body for football players. You've spoken about the curvature in the shorts and the Tempo short, but can you talk a bit more about how you've accommodated for the lower body?

It really started with our 3D body scanning in our Nike research lab. We tried to get as many athletes as we could to go through that 3D body scanner so we could start to look at and see what are commonalities between all the female football athletes that are coming through. And so when we went through and did that analysis, what we saw was that they are shaped different than a normal, standard fit that we have at Nike. And a lot of that is because so much power is driven from the lower part of their body. So they have bigger glutes, and they have bigger thighs. And so with that, I think it's really looking at it and being like, "Okay, we'd probably better re-look at that short and how it fits." 

We took into account those measurements and really started to look at, okay, how short does a short need to be? Is it too short or too long? You're like, "What's the right length?" And then the curvature of that is a little bit more of a design aesthetic, but it was definitely taken in inspiration from the Tempo short, which a lot of girls play in. Also looking at the rise, making sure that it fits properly in the back and also in the front depending on really nice balance. And then really sweating the details at the waistband because there's been a lot of accommodations that athletes have had to do over the years with shorts that didn't fit for them specifically. They maybe had to roll the waistband down. They had to tie the drawstring really tight, and what we found was actually drawstrings were super annoying to them because it might get scratchy on the inside. So this new waistband that we have, which is really stretchy and has mesh, and fits just right, I think all of that combined together we provided an amazing short for them.

This is your first time in Australia. When you got here did you kind of look around and think “Hmm, yea I got this one right”?

Oh, yeah. For sure. I felt it as soon as I got off the plane. It's just how fun everyone is here and how welcoming everyone is and then also the team, their young exuberance, you can feel that. And it's like, "Wow. This is really coming to life through the lens of the graphics."