Cornerstone Brands Of The Football Casuals

Football and fashion have long been team players. From 1960s-era trendsetters like George Best and Bobby Moore to Beckham’s Midas-like status in the style sphere today, it’s clear that menswear and the beautiful game are a tight-knit dream team.

And while Lanvin’s Lucas Ossendrijver clothes the Arsenal team now and legendary French midfielder Zinedine Zidane is the face of Mango Man’s current SS15 advertising campaign, the relationship between fashion and football stretches back to the 1970s, when the focus wasn’t on what players were wearing but the style of the supporters cheering them on in the terrace: the casuals.

Much loathed, as much by the general public as by some of the brands that became synonymous with them, a faction of the casuals was hell-bent on hooliganism, quickly giving the laddish label-loving subculture a bad name.

But we tend to forget that the casuals’ enthusiasm for certain brands of clothing was less about going undercover to cause havoc – as was the case for a violent minority – and more about plain and simple one-upmanship: who’s wearing the best brands, and who’s wearing them best? Clothes, for casuals, were a means to uncompromisingly pin your colours to the mast.

Here we take a look at some of the labels whose rise to prominence in the UK was closely linked with the subculture, their hero pieces, and why they’re still admired to this very day.

C.P. Company

Born in 1975, this Italian label has – in its forty-year history – produced over 40,000 garments. Initially founded as Chester Perry, the brand was later renamed by the design virtuoso then at its helm, Massimo Osti.

Although the brand now manufactures everything from trousers and jeans to sweatshirts and silk scarves, it’s chiefly known for what many of its avid followers deem the holy grail of outerwear: the Mille Miglia jacket.

Osti’s brainchild, the Mille Miglia made its first appearance in 1988 at the world-famous annual vintage car race of the same name, sponsored that year by C.P. Company, and was soon after adopted by the casuals for its utilitarian look and feel.

Stone Island

Started as a spin-off, diffusion line from C.P. Company, Stone Island eventually grew to become considerably bigger – and, by many accounts, immeasurably cooler – than its predecessor.

Known affectionately as ‘Stoney’ by its devotees, the Italian label found favour with football fans due to its hard wearing fabrics and the impeccable construction of its wares.

Originally headed up by Massimo Osti, the same man behind C.P. Company’s legendary Mille Miglia, Stone Island birthed a cult-like following for its distinctive markers: highly-functional jackets and sweatshirts that were the result of innovative fabric-dyeing and textile engineering techniques and, of course, the brand’s compass insignia, smartly woven into a rectangular badge and buttoned with military precision to the upper left arm.

While the label’s distinctive branding might once have been mistaken for the symbol of violent right-wing group Combat 18, it’s now shaken off its negative connotations, managing to convincingly remind us all what it deserves to be known for: achingly cool clobber complete with thermo, reflective and garment-dyed finishes.

Now, instead of jumped up troublemakers, you’re more likely to see the compass on the likes of musicians Drake and Frank Ocean, as well as British actor Russell Tovey – all of whom sport Stoney’s masterfully engineered casual wear separates and statement outerwear.

adidas

The definitive football supporter’s footwear brand, adidas has had close ties with the casuals movement since the original Forest Hills were released in 1979.

Indeed, it could be argued that the German sportswear giant was the subculture’s constant. As brand consultant and self-confessed adidas-obsessive Gary Aspden puts it in an interview with The Daily Street:

“Despite the way that the whole football casual fashion would change really quickly, adidas is one of the brands that remained consistent through it.”

From the Trimm Trabb and Grand Slam to the Samba and its iconic City Series, adidas’ trainers were the go-to for those flocking to the terrace. And little, it seems, has changed, with adidas Originals’ current line-up – from Stan Smiths to Gazelles – spectacularly popular not only among sports fans but fashion’s most influential too.

 

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