Sportswear has grown to be a frontrunner in style, globally. Influencing every level of fashion from couture runways all the way down to what we wear grocery shopping. Australia’s love for athletic clothing has grown the industry to a market size of $3b (ABS). Ironically, a considerable portion of this figure comes from a subcategory of comfortable activewear for non-athletic settings called Athleisure wear.
Comfort can play a big part in clothing but so can the era in which the style comes from. In fashion we look to the past to revive trends and give them new life – with sportswear now solidified as a main player in the fashion world, it’s no surprise vintage sports gear, specifically football (soccer) kits are shaping up to be this year’s hottest trends.
So why football? Football consistently remains the world’s most popular sport, however, was never able to receive proper recognition in the United States until recently. Major investment in United States Major League Soccer (MLS) and celebrity endorsements from legendary players such as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović, the popularity has increased.
Outside of the United States, Football clubs in the English Premier League have become corporate revenue machines for their stakeholders. Leveraging the celebrity power of their players and the history of the club to influence punters to buy the latest kits and merchandise. To wear your club’s kit is to show your devotion, however you still want to stand out. The easily accessible and mass-produced pieces, though acceptable clothing items, don’t possess the fashion forward, unattainable element that vintage football kits have and collector’s desire.
Jacob Colangelo, a Perth vintage kit fanatic who was collecting before the trend kicked in. has amassed a collection of over 200 kits from all sporting disciplines. Colangelo finds his passion for collecting is deeply rooted in history and a time where clothes were made to last.
“In early years, clubs only had one kit that they would play in for 2 years – now clubs release brand new kits every year that are almost always cheaply manufactured”.
Colangelo admits some of his collections are great investment pieces that will never depreciate, but most are too special to sell.
“I think the popularity of them now is based on hype culture. The fact you can’t just go to the shops and buy a good quality vintage kit makes them even more desirable – you would be lucky to find the exact one you want in your size and in good condition unless you’re going through legit resellers”.
Sellers like, The Kit Dealer, an online store specialising in vintage football shirts operating out of Perth. Capitalising on the recent spike in demand, store owner Robert Childs attributes this to football becoming a more prominent and respected sport in Australia.
“The football community has blown up in Perth – when I first started out it wasn’t really a big thing but it’s become huge – I held a pop-up event recently and we couldn’t fit enough people in the shop. Which completely took me by surprise.”
Childs has regular customers from all over the globe, with most of his sales coming from Australia and Japan.
Notable customers include Grime artist AJ Tracy, Jelani and Big Zu. The hugely influential genre UK Grime and Drill is known for regularly referencing football players. A favourite music style of Childs, he believes the growing popularity of the genre has been instrumental to the fashion movement and growing his brand. AJ Tracy alone has over 1 million Instagram followers and can regularly be seen sporting football kits.
“They definitely helped me in the early days. I was pretty lucky to get in contact with Jelani who then put me onto AJ Tracey.” Recently The Kit Dealer collaborated with UK artist Bru-C who was spotted performing in a vintage kit last weekend at Metros City (Northbridge).
Fashion is always in a cycle, but this nostalgic trend, much like the vintage kits, will stand the test of time.
If you would like to own a piece of football fashion history head to www.thekitdealer.com