Football might finally be having the same impact on street culture in the UK that basketball has always had in the United States. Your favourite football boots are becoming limited edition sneakers, grime artists are demonstrating their love of the game like never before and the world's best players are unashamed hypebeasts.
We're seeing the rise of a new generation of footballers who are viewed as cultural icons, not just sporting ones. Head of that class is Paul Pogba, who's a shining example of confidence and creativity in releasing Season II of his capsule collection with adidas Football.
Season Two of the adidas Football x Paul Pogba collection channels channels Pogba’s famous style – both on and off the pitch – using earthy tones to represent his African roots and the inclusion of a classic desert camouflage pattern.
We linked up with Bruno Marrant (senior product manager) and Nathan Thompson (senior footwear designer) of adidas Football to break down the new collection, Pogba's creativity and football's impact on fashion.
COMPLEX: There really seems to be an evolution of how football is perceived in style circles. It's becoming a point of inspiration for many streetwear brands. What is it about football, the players and the on-pitch product that's sparked this new wave?
Bruno Marrant: Historically, streetwear was very much lead by the US market. Hip-hop and skateboarding were the main two sources of inspiration, so it was all about basketball, baseball, US football jerseys, baggie jeans and hoodies. For a while, these pieces defined streetwear. But with the rise of social media and the aesthetic of European designers like Gosha, people can be just as street relevant wearing Tiro pants with sneakers, or a football jersey with jeans. The fact that Drake wore a pink Juventus jersey last year also shows that the trend has travelled back to the home of streetwear, instantly making it globally relevant. There’s a raw edge to football that makes it very relevant in streetwear – something incredibly authentic.
Nathan Thompson: Sportswear in general is becoming more relevant in streetwear and the lines between performance and style are becoming more blurred. In my view, football in particular is used in fashion as an expression of community. You’ll find that the tonality of football in fashion is often more inward looking, focusing more on the team, a player or a special moment and less about competition or rivalry. I’m a fan of a team, but before that I’m a fan of the sport and the culture of football. More and more people are discovering football in that way, just loving the game for what it is. I think that fashion has adopted football in exactly the same way.
What is it about Paul Pogba that makes him a good candidate for adidas to collab with?
BM: He has an incredible sense for fashion, which means he knows exactly how he wants to look both on and off the pitch. He stands out when he plays, but he also wants to translate his style into his wardrobe. We couldn’t find a better ambassador for our 'Stadium to Street' approach to football.
NT: Pogba’s passion for creativity makes him the perfect partner to work with. He’s got a way of expressing this passion through his image as well as through his style of play in ways that only he can. That passion allows us to explore different pieces, like a bomber jacket and back pack, with his style in mind. As designers, we love working with him because he brings so much energy and a lot of great ideas to take us to new places creatively.
What are the inspirations behind this second season of Paul Pogba x adidas Football and how are we seeing that in the product?
BM: First of all, we wanted to strike a contrast with the look and feel of the first drop. Paul is very much into his muted colors so we translated this into something meaningful for him and opted for beige tones – this is also representative of his African roots, which Paul is very proud of. Ultimately, we wanted to create something truly outstanding for him, we took inspiration from his story to develop the cuts and style of the collection. We also added another element – a desert camo pattern, unique for him, with premium material executions.
Describe Pogba's involvement in this project. How hands on was he and what ideas did he bring to the table?
BM: It’s definitely not just a sign off with Paul. He’s open to our ideas but he will look into every piece in detail, and give the final touch to the range to make sure we deliver a true Pogboom collection to the world. He shares references from his wardrobe, or pieces he has seen on social media, and we’ve also blended in our vision for next season. Nathan and I sat down with him to go through the first sketches, then again for the first prototypes, and finally to sign off the range. As you can imagine, Paul has an incredibly busy schedule, but he always makes time to discuss his range.
NT: Paul was fully involved throughout. After sharing his ideas and inspiration for the collection we talked at length about the general look and feel of the range. We shared our latest material developments then discussed with him about colours, graphic ideas and fits. The fit was a particular area of focus for Paul, so getting that right was key. The best part was taking him the first samples, which we made in his size so he could try everything on. I think it’s also the best part for him too because it’s the first time getting to see his vision come to life. He switched into French a couple times when sharing his excitement but I could tell from his expression that we’d nailed it!
Where do you see this collection living? Is it on the streets of Paris, the concrete pitches of Brixton...
BM: There’s no doubt that Paul has a global appeal so his range will resonate everywhere, whether it’s the streets of Shanghai, a turf in New York or a stadium in Paris.
NT: I see the collection working really well globally in a fashion or streetwear setting. If you look through the range from the sweatshirt, to the sweat pants and graphics jersey, it stands out in much the same way as Paul does himself, both on the pitch and off it. Each piece is unique in it’s own way and I imagine would be the highlight of any outfit worn with.
The ACE is included again here. What's it been like to work on that silo over the last two years? It appears to have been a game-changer for the brand stylistically with tonnes of innovation.
BM: It was certainly a game changer for the brand, but more importantly for football in general. adidas pushed the boundaries and created something that has never been done in the history of football. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to challenge the status quo, and come up with something that everybody thought was impossible. Because ACE is also so daringly simple, it works seamlessly with the UltraBOOST sole, and it creates a forward-looking sneaker. A lot of brands have been jumping on the laceless mid cut runner since then…
NT: I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been able to work on all collections of ACE so far, and it’s been an amazing project to get to work on. As designers, we’re continuing to shape what ACE stands for with each line drawn and each render polished. To be a part of that and watch the new silo grow in the way that it has is something very gratifying and unique.
Where do you expect adidas and Paul Pogba to take this relationship moving forward? We had a signature boot, some iconic collabs (Stormzy x Pogba) and now two capsule collections. What do you think is next?
BM: A lot of exciting stuff...who knows what’s coming next?
NT: I think we’re just getting started with this. There’s a unique authenticity to the way that we’re working with Pogba and a partnership where there’s loads to offer from both sides. Let’s see – I’m sure there’s plenty more surprises around the corner.
The adidas Football X Paul Pogba Capsule Collection II is available via adidas.com/pogba_collection and in selected adidas stores worldwide from Wednesday 25 November.