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A brief history of soccer on the catwalk

From Bikkembergs to Miu Miu's latest show

A brief history of soccer on the catwalk  From Bikkembergs to Miu Miu's latest show

With the show of Miu Miu's SS21 collection held yesterday, the long (and often stormy) relationship between the world of soccer and that of fashion has touched a new, very high note. Seeing the footwear of the collection, it was impossible not to think back to the sneakers that Dirk Bikkembergs had created in the early 2000s for his show Sport Couture. Between these two events almost twenty years apart, the whole story of the football-fashion trend straddling 2017 and 2018 passed through the streetwear trend and quickly reused not only by various fashion houses as a reference or random quote but also protagonist of collaborations of the level such as that between Virgil Abloh, Kim Jones and Nike that produced capsules respectively named Football Mon Amour and Football Reimagined.

For this reason, nss magazine decided to draw a short timeline of the most important moments when the world of football and that of the catwalks entered into dialogue.

Dirk Bikkembergs Sport Couture

Although he has never been a football fan, the German Dirk Bikkembergs (former member of the legendary Antwerp Six) arrived in Italy in 2000 with an unprecedented intuition: to merge fashion collections with the world of football, exploiting the body of footballers and sportsmen using models and enhancing some of the typical elements of football, the sport undoubtedly most popular in Italy. His debut with Sport Couture is a resounding success, followed by some experiments in those unthinkable times: to parade in a stadium like the Camp Nou, to collaborate with a top club like Inter (using the same players as testimonials) even going so far as to buy the small amateur club FC Fossombrone that, from today to tomorrow, found itself wearing the coolest uniforms of the entire football industry.

In the following years, Bikkembergs used the silhouette of the playing shoes to make his famous sneakers - taken at the time by brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton and recently by Miu Miu. Also in his collections the theme of football continued, between a set with footballs and one with the Cthyl Champions' Cups, with the parades starring the active footballers. The launch of DIRK, the first fragrance launched in more recent times (in 2016), is also affected by football contamination with its ball-shaped and iconic bottle has remained its milan store, between Via Manzoni and Piazza Cavour, with 1300 square meters, three floors and fifteen showcases, almost entirely black and white and with the bathroom covered with pages of the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Dolce & Gabbana FW16 Alta Sartoria

The only real controversy in the love story between fashion and football was a very Italian controversy: the sicilian design duo organized their own show of Alta Sartoria of the FW16 season in the streets of San Gregorio Armeno, Naples, and in the midst of the 24 looks of the womenswear collection, appeared a model wearing a makeover of the iconic Napoli jersey of Diego Armando Maradona. A rudeness that did not go unnoticed and that, despite the apology of the designers, was resolved only in 2019 by the milan court with a judgment relating to the "undue use" and "commercial exploitation of the name" of Maradona. The shirt was never put up for sale, thus avoiding that it could be a commercialization without any prior consent, and greatly limiting the final damage that, according to Maradona's lawyers amounted to almost one million euros.

Versace FW18

In a collection dominated by vintage silhouettes, always exaggerated in colors and textures according to the typical Versace style, a pleasantly jarring element were the stadium scarves decorated by the cubital letter V that appeared around the neck of the vast majority of models. To be honest, the tradition of soccer scarf is not Italian but English - the fans of the early 1900s used them to watch the matches even in the middle of winter and report their fans.  While not appearing on the catwalk, the collection included a series of t-shirts inspired by classic football jerseys - one of them was worn by Donatella Versace herself before the event to present on Instagram the brand's headphones and iPhone cover just before the show. 

Gosha Rubchinskiy SS18

Rubchinskiy's SS18 collection drew a deep inspiration from the world of football, in particular that associated with the textures and materials used by adidas football in the 1990s – a constant presence at the feet of all models – and the culture of English hooligans through a collaboration with Burberry. The historical optics that the Russian designer always applies to his collections was resolved in the form of quotes and references to the post-Soviet rave culture, born in Russia after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, expressed through the use of tie-dye fabrics, the oversized volumes of sportswear and a styling as precise as nostalgic.

Koché x Paris Saint-Germain Pre-Fall 2018 

The collaboration between Koché and Paris Saint-Germain for the Pre-Fall 2018 collection plays a very important role in this list because it was the first ever collaboration between a fashion brand and a football team. It was PSG itself that invested energy in tying its image to that of the fashion world by collaborating with Koché and creating something never seen before: a total fusion between football and fashion. Presented at Saint-Merry Church in Paris, the collection combined several Paris Saint-Germain shirts with some of Koché's outfits, combined with a surprising harmony - a breath of fresh air in the vision of modern football.


The manga Captain Tsubasa, better known in Italy as Holly and Benji, was the protagonist of the graphics of THE FW19 collection of MSGM. The jaquard coats are due to the collaboration with Boing with the scenes taken from the manga in the original black and white, depicting the overthrow of Benji and the face of the goalkeeper, with the inevitable cap on his head.

Balenciaga FW20

In the midst of a show with a dystopian-apocalyptic flavor that spoke yes of climate change but took advantage of demna Gvasalia's personal memories, appeared, among spiked jackets and long black coats, also a series of football uniforms with the logo of the brand accompanied even by a new line of sneakers that, not unlike those designed by Dirk Bikkembergs, resumed the imaginary of the shoe. Asked why he had included football uniforms in the parade, Gvasalia replied: "Footballers and priests were what I grew up with in Georgia. Sport, religion, obsession and seduction are stripped of their functions leaving only the feeling that they are fashion items".

Miu Miu SS21

Miu Miu's most recent collection was inspired by the world of sport and, specifically, the spectacular language of sportswear and the decorations of the so-called event clothing. The shape of the jerseys, the linear fit and the bold color blocking were all elements borrowed from the world of sportswear - a type of reference balanced by the feminine and sophisticated aesthetic that is also the brand's stylistic signature. The most remarkable alchemy, however, was in the footwear field that mixed the classic silhouette of the football shoe with high heels - that ugly chic balance for which Miuccia Prada has rightly become famous.