It seems strange to put the word ‘fashionable’ and ‘football’ close by to each other, but recent years have seen a boom between these two areas, with certain clubs leading the way.
Even recent kit launches have placed an emphasis on storytelling, to repurpose a simple football jersey into a fashion item. As a Manchester United fan, I’ve loved seeing what they’ve done with their away and third kits for the same reason. It makes me want to buy it… without watching a game.
So, going into the United States – the world’s home of commerce and impressionableness, their version of football / ‘soccer’ takes this to a whole new ball-game. With MLS franchises using their brand presence to push forward their football strategy.
What clubs are the most fashionable?
Annoyingly, ‘fashion’ is an area that has and will always be under some form of dispute. Because one person’s definition of it is different from another’s.
I might think something looks good, and you may think another – and that’s why you’re probably going to disagree with a lot of the inclusion of this list if they’re not to your taste.
However, in a new feature here on the Hobby FC Football Kit collection, we are placing an emphasis on those MLS franchises that have looked to prioritise the look and feel of their brand almost just as much as they have with their on-pitch abilities. Beginning with a State which typifies this behaviour.
Orlando City SC
Ah, Florida. DisneyLand. Beaches. Crazy stories. It’s a pretty spectacular place.
So, when the MLS rebranded (from the NASL) following David Beckham’s big-money move to Los Angeles, they just about got involved before missing the curve all together in the mid-2010’s.
Their choice of livery was one that isn’t all that common in the football world, but they’ve done it brilliantly well. Adopting a similar shade of purple you might be used to seeing if you’ve watched RSC Anderlecht your entire life, their choice of sponsor and decals have always been deliberately selected with the intention of directly complementing that purple.
Their crest – a dusty gold lion face with white writing – is a combination that they have stuck with on their home shirts since their inauguration, and I hope it’s something that never changes.
Plus, much like with the other two teams on this list, they’ve selected their ‘franchise’ players very methodically with this in mind. Understanding that something can’t really be ‘fashionable’ until someone steps into it, choices like Kaka and Nani were phenomenal choices.
Both of these players wore that shirt with pride and have been known throughout their careers for their elegance and eye-catching playing styles – much like the shirt they represented in the States.
Los Angeles FC (‘LAFC’)
I fell in love with their jerseys from the moment they introduced them.
For years, future intra-city rivals Los Angeles (‘LA’) Galaxy ruled the roost in the MLS with the aforementioned acquisition of David Beckham, and looked to continue to do that with franchise players like Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Landon Donovan and eventually, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Backed by Adidas, who remain as their manufacturer to this day, LAFC were founded back in 2014, but only made their MLS debut four years later once relevant checks and foundations were complete.
Unveiling perhaps the most aesthetic badge in Major League Soccer, they have stuck with their original black and gold colours ever since. Plus, with their emphasis on community management and the youth scene in LA, their original YouTube sponsor went down a treat.
Unlike Orlando, the big names have thus far deserted this side of LA (for now). With perhaps Carlos Vela the most reputable signing they’ve made since introducing themselves almost a decade ago.
That being said, their participation in the ‘Los Angeles Derby‘ has added a bit more flavour to Major League Soccer and they have taken their role as ‘underdogs’ with aplomb.
For this reason, they have attracted a large cult following within the United States, and it’s only a matter of time before their resources and fan support culminate in more on-pitch successes. But for now, their black and gold numbers are some of the most universally applicable garments in the MLS.
Black goes with everything, everybody loves gold – so it’s a win-win in terms of being fashionable piece. I live in London – and I still see people wearing LAFC shirts in Oxford Street!
The next one is a little more polarising, but the reception has been clear so far.
Inter Miami CF
This is the only club in men’s professional sports (as a whole) within North America to have adopted the colour pink as their primary base for their home shirts.
What else do you expect, when you have David Beckham as your owner?
This is a man who trialled out every hairstyle possible throughout his career, and has been at the epicentre of fashion and pop culture. Arguably the most fashionable footballer or all time.
Launching in the 2020 season, they set out as they meant to go on with the acquisition of Gonzalo Higuain – who was fresh off the back of a strange period in the Premier League with Chelsea.
It was a move that came as a bit of surprise given the residual interest that remained in him from Europe’s top competitions. But that showed the power of the Inter Miami brand, and has stood as a signal for their intent as a topflight soccer institution ever since.
With the pandemic ruining pretty much everything in the football world, it’s taken a few years for everybody to catch up, and with the new season underway and fresh steps to be taken, it was time for this club to take a major step in what’s now a groundbreaking deal in the world of sports.
Similar to Michael Jordan’s game-changing equity deal with Nike, World Cup-winning superstar Lionel Messi joined Inter Miami CF on a free transfer from PSG under the proviso that he would receive some of the royalties from their wider sponsorships with Apple. In his first game, he scored a 94th minute free-kick to grant his side the victory – and send the internet into a complete and utter frenzy.
Beckham (of course), was there. As were Kim Kardashian and Lebron James. All supporters by entourages donning the rather fetching (and ‘fashionable’) pink Inter Miami kits.
In the past few days, ex-Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have also joined, and there’s nothing like a legendary trifecta to boost your footballing reputation.
I’m loving the fact that football shirts are becoming normal to wear outside of football games.
We’ve seen with the likes of Classic Football Shirts and other popular re-sellers, that vintage pieces hold a special place in the heart of collectors, but ‘instant-classics’ are equally as collectible – especially when you can buy them in mint condition, keep them safe and sell them later on.
But now, teams (and their social media operations) are working harder than ever to make the case that their garments are fashionable with the aim or expanding their crowd.
And with the MLS still needing to do some more work to be taken seriously in a footballing sense, then we may come to see even better pieces from their franchises in the future.
Who do you think is the most fashionable MLS franchise?