With Jack Grealish reportedly signing an eye-watering seven figure deal with Gucci this week to become their newest brand ambassador, it’s safe to say that the cross over between football and culture is reaching new heights. Whilst the link between sport and cultural influences has been a main stay in America for years, with the likes of Air Jordan, Spike Lee’s presence at NBA games and Dennis Rodman’s status as a cultural icon secured, this is a relatively new phenomenon within the beautiful game. So, let’s look at the meteoric rise of football and its’s relationship with culture, in particular fashion and music.
David Beckham was arguably football’s first superstar whose cultural significance could not be understated – fashion conscious, married to a spice girl, and with new haircut every week, Becks was just as likely to be talked about on the terraces as he was in Vogue. However, it’s not been until the last few years that football, as a whole has taken the leap into the realm of culture.
In terms of fashion, it was arguably PSG’s deal with Air Jordan that provided the first major glimpse of the two industries collaborating in a significant way. It was the first deal of its’s kind, not only did Air Jordan produce on pitch kits, but they released a load of lifestyle collections to go with it that generated a ton of hype. The partnership has continued to make noise over the past few years and laid the foundations for increased presence of fashion brands in the world of football. Whether it be streetwear brands such as palace dropping collections with Juventus, Stella McCartney’s female exclusive Arsenal collection, or Louis Vuitton releasing a football themed capsule, fashion and football have become intrinsically linked with consumers constantly creating a buzz around each drop as they clamour to get their hands on these collections. Football and fashion are perhaps a match made in heaven and Jack Grealish’s unprecedented Gucci deal shows that this relationship will continue to flourish.
Football has also become an increasing presence in the music industry, particularly in UK rap culture. For instance, UK rappers love to reference the sport in their songs, lyrics such as “excellent finish, Mo Salah” or Skepta’s ode to loyalty “My man are United like Giggs, I will never leave my Young Gunners like Thierry”, in reference to Henry leaving Arsenal for Barcelona, are just a few of many examples. One rapper taking this to greater extremes is Keeya Keys, an esteemed footballer in his own right, who has written songs like ‘Haaland’, ‘Ruud’ and ‘4-4-2’. Keys, a rising star in the UK rap scene, finds each and any way he can to talk about football in his music. Then there is Skepta, who made history as he brought his creative talents to the world of football becoming the first music artist to collaborate with Nike on a signature football boot. Like with fashion, there is also appetite for this cross-cultural revolution within music, UK rapper Guvna B has just stormed to the top of the Apple Music charts with his track, “Massive” providing proof that the people are all for the music and football link up.
What is apparent is that much like fashion, the UK music scene and football have become entangled. Whilst Beckham set the tone for what was to come, football has now exploded into cultural spheres, whether it be music or fashion, and the association is only going to get stronger – take note of the Jack Grealish deal as a sign of things to come, now make like Foden and watch this space …
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