To some fans, football shirts are as sacred as their favorite players who wear them. For instance, Barcelona’s 1991-92 away shirt fetches up to £600 on resale sites such as StockX, which is roughly 20 times its original asking price. The same goes for Holland’s satsuma-hued 1988 home shirt.
So it’s easily understandable that football clubs do not allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to try their designs on their team’s shirt. Unless, of course, that person is former GQ cover star Pharell Williams, with whom even Chanel, the mega-brand that rarely sullies itself with collaborations, has teamed up.
The ‘Happy’ singer and popular pop music icon has been given free rein over designs for the shirts of Adidas-sponsored football teams, with the Adidas collaborator taking a momentary pause from creating sneakers and slides, instead turning his hand to designing football shirts.
Through the German sportswear giant’s Humanrace division, for which he is the creative director, Williams has worked on a new jersey collection, which takes its design inspiration from the collective memories and significant styles of some of the world’s most famous football shirts. For the collection, Williams has configured the jerseys of Adidas-sponsored teams like Arsenal, FC Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid.
From the club crests to the Adidas partner logo, all of the jersey details have been reimagined in creatively-styled brush strokes, besides being delicately crafted in Adidas’ top-of-the-line sweat-wicking technology, making them pitch-appropriate.
Williams’ Manchester United jersey has as its inspiration the club’s iconic blue-and-white snowflake print, which was first seen on the 1990-92 away kit and born out of the city’s famous house music scene of the late 1980s. For Arsenal fans, the Grammy award-winning producer and singer delved into the Adidas archives and chose one of the most recognised kits from the London club’s history, namely the bruised banana jersey from the 1991-93 seasons that now comes with a stunning hand-painted, paint-bleed effect.
It is definitely noteworthy to add at th is juncture that all this hasn’t been done for a virtual Adidas exhibition or just for laughs. Instead, the shirts will actually be making their way on to the pitch, with pre-match jerseys being worn from 24 October by Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid, while Juventus will wear the design in-match on 25 October, and FC Bayern Munich will wear their Pharrell Williams-designed shirt in the next knock-out game of their domestic cup.
“History is what shapes the future. And sometimes in order to look forwards, first we need to look back,” Williams said of the collection.
“The most important part of the process with this collection was to learn of each club’s legacies and how each defining moment of their histories were captured and preserved from a design perspective. Each of the new jerseys are symbols of the five club’s legacies and a true celebration of the universality of sport.”