The goals of fashionable footballers
Author explains the magic and the madness behind how famous soccer players choose their styles
Simon Doonan is a bona fide bon vivant so it makes total sense that the creative ambassador for Barneys New York would do a colourful, cheeky celebration of the style of the beautiful game.
In Soccer Style: The Magic and the Madness, Doonan breaks down the get-ups of famous players, from the legendary 1960s Manchester United forward George Best to today’s pitch-perfect Gucci loving Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid star playing for Portugal in this year’s World Cup.
The book is a fun and a completely unapologetic, full-on fawning by a true English football fan.
Doonan grew up in a working class neighbourhood in Reading, England, and through the footballer days of his youth he started to understand sartorial sense and just plain living it up.
Doonan chatted with Postmedia about his book and who he considers to be fashionable footballers.
Q Why did you want to do Soccer Style: The Magic and the Madness?
A I grew up with soccer in England where it’s a huge part of the culture. I was always fascinated by the style and flash of the high-profile players: their dramas, their cars and haircuts and their ink. The culture which has evolved around soccer is rich and frequently hilarious.
Q At the beginning of the book, you say the lens you view football through is “less Fever Pitch and more Saturday Night Fever Pitch.” What is about the sartorial side of football that so intrigues you?
A I relate to the lads. I grew up in a factory town after the War in austerity Britain. I was obsessed with the ’60s generation of players like George Best and Mike Summerbee. And I shared their passion for style and E-type Jaguars.
Q You point to the great George Best as a turning point for you? What kind of influence did the Man United star have on you as a kid?
A Best was a tough brave player, a real macho dude, who also liked fashion. I felt a kinship with him in his love of dressing up. There was something optimistic and glamorous about his vanity, which appealed to my postwar austerity generation.
Q Of your categories of fashionable footballers (Good Taste Ambassadors, Label Kings, Psychedelic Ninjas, Hired Assassin and Bohemians and Fauxhemians), which are you personally most into and why?
A My favourite group of players is the crazy uninhibited dressers. I call them The Psychedelic Ninjas. Examples include Neymar, (Paul) Pogba, (Djibril) Cissé, (Dani) Alves and (Roberto) Firmino. These guys love to wear avant-garde crazy clothes — Balenciaga, Balmain, Gucci — and they have a very healthy disregard for any negative feedback or mockery. They use fashion as a form of creative personal expression. Bravo!
Q Who is your favourite fashionable footballer right now and why?
A (Real Madrid’s) Cristiano Ronaldo seems to enjoy spending his dough. He has Hermes blankets on his private plane. When I read about the fabulous movie stars of the silent movie era like Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson, I think of Ronaldo.
Q What are the biggest trends you see in footballer fashion right now?
A Hand tattoos are becoming increasingly popular. Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid has big flowers on the back of his hands. Beards are everywhere. Many players — Pogba and (Antoine) Griezmann — simplified their radical haircuts for the World Cup. Am sure they will go back to their old ways when the next season begins.
Q What can we all learn from footballer fashion?
A Footballers/soccer players feed the fashion economy. They love to shop. They are true patrons of La Mode. They show us that style is life-affirming and life-enhancing.
Q You mention in the book that footballers pay full retail and that makes you happy. Why?
A I have been in the retail world my entire adult life. My salary has always depended on people paying full retail. God bless the shoppers of the world. They are the true patrons of fashion.
Q There are so many style trends connected with football over the years. Which one do you love now?
A I am very excited about the new soccer jersey designs. People, not just fans, are buying soccer jerseys and wearing them with their street-style and hipster outfits. You don’t have to be a soccer fan to wear a Nigerian or Spanish jersey. It’s a style moment. This is a big revolution. In the old days, only hardcore fans wore soccer jerseys. Now they have become a huge hip signifier. This is the big news of the 2018 World Cup. The shirts are stylish and groovy and can be integrated into your regular street-style wardrobe. My faves are Colombia — lightning bolts coming from the armpits — and Croatia with the checkerboard pattern, which reminds me of the Louis Vuitton Daumier pattern.
Q Footballers and their hair, has there even been a more intimate relationship? What did you like better frost and tip, cornrow or man bun David Beckham?
A David Beckham’s changing hairstyles liberated generations of blokes who never thought about their hair. He and his various styles unleashed the metrosexual creativity. He is the patron saint of soccer style.
Q You address the whole WAG (wives and girlfriends) thing and open with the hilarious and famous Peter Crouch response when asked what he would have been if he hadn’t become a footballer? He responded, “A virgin.” So that said, to be a WAG is to be ...?
A The big WAG moment happened back in 2006 at the German World Cup when Coleen Rooney and Abbey Clancy and Victoria Beckham took Baden Baden by storm. Watching these young girls having a blast and shopping their brains out provided fodder for the tabloids. Now things have changed. Most WAGS want to be taken seriously.
Q You are creative ambassador for Barneys New York. How long have you been there and what does your job entail?
A have worked for Barneys since 1986, and for most of that time I have been the creative director, responsible for window displays and ads and all the fun image related stuff. The Ambassador position is relatively recent. I get to host store events and give quotes to the press. It also allows me to do other stuff, like my new TV show. It’s a competition crafting show with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman called Making It and it debuts July 31 on NBC. Etsy’s Dayna Isom Johnson and I are the judges.
Writer, columnist, and the soccer obsessive Simon Doonan.
Soccer Style The Magic and Madness.