How Art of Football designed a creative way to show your support
On the face of things, they might appear like totally different worlds, but the bridge between art and football has been solidly growing in recent years. Last year was a crossover moment, with a major exhibition about the sport at the Design Museum, while other independent voices are championing the overlap. One of the biggest proponents is Oof Gallery – which describes itself as “the world’s first cutting-edge art space dedicated to football” and is based in the Spurs stadium – and another leading light is the aptly-named Art of Football.
The brand, which is best known for its clothing but also sells limited-edition artworks inspired by the beautiful game, was founded out of “the emotions connected to football, and how this lends itself to artistic expression.” Since it was launched, Art of Football has collaborated with Budweiser and FIFA 22, shifted a load of vintage gear and released pieces inspired by just about every major football team or player you can think of.
“Football is so emotive for fans and naturally art has always been a medium for expressing those emotions,” the team behind the brand explains. “Art of Football is founded on the original artwork our team makes in response to those football movements that move us all. Art of Football means channelling creativity through a shared love of the game.” At the outset, this original artwork was mostly used to adorn graphic T-shirts and hoodies, often reworking well-known logos into football insignia – think beermats inspired by the Class of 92, or the Ralph Lauren teddy bear wearing a Newcastle kit – but recently the brand has been branching out.
A key new focus is football shirts. “Football shirts are at the core of how creativity plays into football,” the brand explains. “We feel constantly inspired by designers like Drake Ramberg who's artistic skill shines through some amazing iconic kits. As a brand all about art's role in football and vice versa football shirts are a no brainer for us and allow for some really fun designs you may not usually see on the pitch.”
For most people, wearing a shirt is a badge of allegiance and, more often than not, it's about the team you support rather than a fashion statement. Art of Football’s shirts don’t have this association, but the brand is still trying to achieve the same effect. “Although they may not be in support of a club, they still act as an expression of something you love,” The team says, pointing to some of its most-recent releases. “For example our Masterpiece shirts representing different inspirational artists bring together a community of people who all like those same artists. With our latest Sofa Fan shirt it's inspired by watching matches from the comfort of your home while paying homage to 70s style. Our original clothing is for all fans so it's a larger community coming together rather than always being separated by clubs.”
Football shirts aren’t the only memorabilia that Art of Football incorporates into its designs. Another focus is on scarves, although the label has transformed them into something entirely different. A theme that runs throughout its collections is the idea of rework, exemplified by grey sweatshirts featuring a vintage football scarf across the middle.
“Scarves are an iconic piece of football fan culture so we wanted to think of a new way we could style them bringing that nostalgic element into contemporary rework culture,” the brand explains, adding that there’s a second reason for the focus on reworked pieces. “One of the key pillars of Art of Football is our mission to be more sustainable so we're constantly looking at how we can expand our rework line and create new products out of old stock or items. Our Scarf Sweats have become even more sustainable as they now use off cuts/excess from our essentials range combined with the vintage scarves. We want sustainability to be at the forefront of what we do which is why they're an important piece in our Autumn/Winter collection.”
While scarves and shirts might be two of the most obvious football references, Art of Football are finding new and more understated ways to celebrate the sport. That’s partly through the artworks used on graphic T-shirts, while the brand’s Autumn/Winter collection also includes cut-and-sew pieces that nod to important managers or dates, and an essentials range that features the brand’s logo.
As the brand explains, this all gives football fans a new way to show their support. “We always pride ourselves on bringing people's passion for their football club into their lifestyle, and subtle references through patterns, colours, key moments and much more has been our process for connecting the worlds of fashion and football.”
The other items, less obviously football associated, also show how the brand plans to grow. With our essentials range we've begun to explore how our products can begin to speak to more of the lifestyle habits of our consumers, focusing less on direct football referencing more styles, colours, and patterns that can be seen more as fan wear,” the Art of Football team says. “Our plan is to begin venturing into more technical fan and sportswear. Experimenting with more technically sophisticated materials and functional trims that improve the functionality of the pieces.”
Since it was founded, the Art of Football has used art as a medium to show its love for the beautiful game. The two worlds might appear separate, but through the use of new artworks, reworked scarves and all-new football shirts, the brand has shown how the two work together. The next ambition is to become the go-to brands for fans wishing to show their love of football in a more creative way. “It gives people a unique way to show their love for the game in their daily lives.”
Check out Art of Football's latest AW22 collection on their website