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When Lonsdale made football jerseys

From boxing to football, the story of the London brand that has now disappeared from the playing fields

When Lonsdale made football jerseys From boxing to football, the story of the London brand that has now disappeared from the playing fields

The latest fashion weeks in Milan and Paris have officially brought the '00s style back onto the fashion scene, a trend that with the hashtags #Y2kAesthetic and #Y2kFashion has reached over 500 million views on TikTok and also on depop "Y2K" has become a popular hashtag among the youngest. An ugly-glam style that perhaps in England - where at the time Robbie Williams' BritPop and David and Victoria Beckham's outfits dominated the scene - has found its highest expression and has created strange and interesting aesthetic short-circuits between English brands and Premier League shirts. Among these, Lonsdale's brief excursion into the world of British football best describes the kind of brit-working class aesthetics where a popular, box-born brand became the sponsor of provincial, bad-ass clubs that would soon - like Lonsdale - be swept up in the Premier's globalist turn.  

The clubs in question - Sunderland, Birmingham City, Brentford, Swindon Town, Millwall, and Blackburn Rovers - were not part of the elite of English football, but they fitted in perfectly with the brand's aesthetic. Lonsdale wasn't the kind of glossy, glitzy brand that could sponsor Manchester United's great champions. Rather, it focused on small-town teams and players who were halfway between success and oblivion. A prime example of this is Craig Bellamy, capable of scoring in every Premier League stadium but at the same time being the protagonist of clamorous and very serious legal affairs, from which any brand today would keep its distance.

The story of the brand born in the grey city of London is rooted in history and owes its name to Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale. The Lord used to organise boxing matches, something vaguely reminiscent of gruesome and dirty bar basement fights like in Fight Club.

But Lonsdale, even before entering the world of football and having made itself known through the gloves of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali and the jerseys of The Jam, was a real colossus of the 2000s aesthetic, a period that it completely colonised mostly with its iconic sweatshirts. A brand that has been re-evaluated even outside the green English fields, a symbol of some hooligans who recognised themselves in that brand. But that's not all, beyond boxing, football, hooligans, in those years Lonsdale seemed to be able to influence anything it had at hand, slipping also into complex political issues. For some time the term Lonsdale youth was widely used to describe teenagers with extreme right-wing tendencies, and the brand was banned from some schools in the Netherlands and Germany. A situation helped both by the harsh imagery from which it originated, such as that of boxing and fighting, and by part of the brand's name being too similar to that of the NSDAP, the initials of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, a purely Nazi party. This situation has slowly caused the brand to slip into oblivion once again, like those sweatshirts that have ended up in the basement and have now disappeared from the world of fashion.

Before the extra-football events, Lonsdale was one of the few English brands to be a protagonist in the Premier League. Its sponsorships, however, in most cases only lasted for two seasons, also because the designs proposed never really presented anything particularly innovative, unlike the garments proposed capable of monopolising the entire sector. His last appearance in football and in the Premier League will be with Millwall in the season, leaving the world of football for good with the London club. Looking back at his brief history in the world of football, we have collected the five best jerseys made by the London brand, in view of who knows if he will return to the field, sooner or later. 

5. Brentford | Home 2005

4. Sunderland | Home 2006

3. Blackburn Rovers | Away 2004

2. Birmingham City FC | Away 2006

1. Blackburn Rovers | Home 2005