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Why Juventus x Palace is breakthrough for soccer and streetwear

Juventus redefined what a soccer club can accomplish in the fashion field

Why Juventus x Palace is breakthrough for soccer and streetwear  Juventus redefined what a soccer club can accomplish in the fashion field

If someone in Juventus’ meeting room had proposed to make a jersey in collaboration with a London skater brand three years ago, the results would have been confused faces and loud laughter. Today, however, the Palace x adidas x Juventus collab sold out in just a few hours after having debuted, worn among others by Cristiano Ronaldo, at the Allianz Stadium on October 28th against Genoa. The exceptional nature of the operation does not lie in the product (that was very successful in all the items in the collection, from the t-shirt to the "Forza Palace" scarf) but in the very fact that the Italian club collaborated with a brand like Palace, still considered the appanage of streetwear, linked to skate culture and alien to most fans.

This is the logic of the collaboration (or "collab" for the insiders), a widespread practice in today's fashion world, in which two brands, often belonging to opposing universes, collaborate on a product, often aimed at a specific audience, which generates interest ("hype") around the two brands whose advantage consists in the mutual exchange of public and attestation of credibility and awareness.

Juventus x Palace is the point of arrival of a path of contamination. A soccer-fashion trend born in the chameleonic and encompassing streetwear culture. Brands and designers have found in soccer an ocean of cultural references to play with and rules to break, a sport obsessed with aesthetics, but still rigid and out of touch from the contemporary cultural scene. In 2017, NSS Sports was one of the first brands to experiment the alchemy between football and fashion with the first collection of Les Vêtements de Football, which mixed soccer jerseys, fashion brands and tailored cuts. It was the beginning of the soccer-fashion trend in streetwear, with Drake wearing the pink jersey of Juventus, Koché sending the PSG jersey on the catwalk and street style photographers from Seoul to Los Angeles immortalizing new ways of experiencing the cult of soccer jersey.

Many brands began to capitalize on the return of the soccer jerseys thanks also to the 2018 World Cup. They did it both in a contemporary way, such as the Off-White x Nike partnership, and in a nostalgic key, with the unstoppable rise of secondary markets such as Classic Football Shirts. Paradoxically, it was the clubs that earned the least, limited by clauses and sponsorship contracts and plastered in a machist culture that sees in fashion nothing other than frivolity. A striking example were the chants endured by Hector Bellerin, captain of Arsenal and a relevant figure in the fashion world.

The only two big clubs capable of riding the wave were the PSG and, more quietly, Juventus, with a path that started with the rebranding of 2017, then continued with the Icon Collection and this season with the audacious change of design of the vertical stripes in the home kit. The stated objective of the two clubs was to build an image of themselves outside the sporting context, coming into contact with segments of the public that do not necessarily have to love football to become passionate about the club.

The Paris Saint Germain is a particular club, difficult to classify according to the canons of the other football clubs. It looks more like a gigantic political marketing operation that, among its assets, also has a football team. For this reason last year's collaboration with Jordan was an important moment for the aesthetics of contemporary football but nevertheless an operation different from Juventus x Palace. The load of values ​​of the Jumpman is enormous (basketball, black culture, sneakers) but also very institutional, being Jordan an international brand controlled by Nike. The partnership also did not focus on a single exclusive and limited drop, as is usually the case with collaborations, but it was more a co-branding, which, from the commercial point of view, was a resounding success for the Parisian club.

The collaboration between Juventus and Palace has all the characteristics of an operation between two fashion brands: there is a real drop, it is exclusive in terms of quantity but not in prices, it has various levels of reading and was created with one of the most avant-garde brand in the streetwear scene. Therefore, for the Turin club this is not a commercial operation (Ronaldo alone drives a lot of sales) but of positioning with respect to a relevant, international and receptive audience such as the streetwear community. The collab was advertised "below the radar", with a campaign focused on specialized publications and without major announcements. The average supporter might not have noticed the operation except for the fact that, in the match against Genoa, the team wore a different uniform than usual. The product is not designed for the mass market, also thanks to the foresight of adidas, the third player in the collaboration, which will earn little in the short term, but will have the advantage of being the first big brand in the world of sport to have inaugurated the season of collaborations between soccer clubs and fashion.

From the point of view of Palace, the collaboration makes perfect sense and is the confirmation of a remarkable consolidation for the brand founded by Lev Tanju. Despite being born in the skate world, the London brand has always had a connection with football culture and aesthetics. It collaborated with Umbro, drawing inspiration from Inter and Juventus football shirts, and last year it also co-signed with adidas the tennis kit with which Angelique Kerber won Wimbledon 2018. Palace designers have succeeded in the complex task of proposing a soccer kit that respects the strict rules of the Soccer League and the taste of the club and making it extremely cool thanks to the neon details and the nuanced pattern.

The rest of the collection is where the brand has been able to impress its own taste that draws on the English aesthetic of hooligans and on the street fashion of the '00s. As in everything that Palace does, there is also a layer of irony: having the chance to exploit Cristiano Ronaldo, the highest-paid influencer in the world and Nike man par excellence, must be something the team has thought about. Juventus x Palace is the first operation in which a soccer club treats itself as a fashion brand, creating an original and quality product that enriches the culture around the team. Here at nss sports we hope it’s the first of many.