The fashion victims of football

What should a boy wear for the Cup Final? Not Hugo Boss, for sure.

THIS afternoon when Arsenal and Newcastle go for a walkabout on the Wembley pitch before the big match, they'll be wearing Hugo Boss suits, both sides united in their passion for one designer label.

Although most supporters couldn't give a flying football about the designer name on their team's inside jacket pockets, the dressing of football stars has become big business for fashion companies. To have a football player endorse your clothes is worth more in advertising revenue than all the chisel-jawed models in Milan.

Giorgio Armani scored a hat-trick when he had the bright idea of employing Liverpool goalie David James to show off his magnificent thighs wearing nothing more than a pair of briefs. However, the designer was given a yellow card when he dressed the entire team for the FA Cup final in 1996.

What singles out the match in the memories of the most die-hard fans were the official team suits that Liverpool wore before the match. "David James looked superb in his, obviously because he was modelling for Armani anyway," argues one Liverpool fan. "It depended who was wearing them." Another fan has still not got over the shock: "I held my face in my hands in shame. From the moment they stepped out in those suits, I knew we were going to lose."

Whichever side you're on, footballers' suits can be an emotive - and all too often comic - subject. The days when the team went down to their local Burtons to be fitted for a smart suit for the big day are over. Footballers have become the menswear equivalent of Hollywood movie stars at the Oscars, prey to big corporate designers who can supply suits free of charge. Hugo Boss can no doubt throw in a few dozen boxes of aftershave, and a pair of boxers as a sweetener for Newcastle manager Kenny Dalglish. But a team that is worth as much as Arsenal can well afford to buy their own suits. And it's time they supported local talent.

One local designer is Katharine Hamnett. Her menswear is already popular with the football fraternity, but who better to design the Gunners kit than a designer who lives - and works - within spitting distance of the club? She could do a great line in Reservoir Dogs style slim-line two- pieces for the boys (although she would have to remember they don't like flat front trousers because they sit too tightly on their thighs).

Likewise, Charlie Allen, the Highbury-based tailor who was born only 100 yards from the ground and still lives 200 yards from it. "It's outrageous. Both sides wearing Hugo Boss! Why can't they pick an English designer?" he asks. Needless to say, he is an Arsenal supporter and will be closing his shop at 3pm this afternoon. "No wonder the Germans beat us at football. We're wearing their suits."

Despite the fact that the suits would have been required at short notice, Mr Allen is adamant that he could have supplied the team with their own bespoke suit at the reduced price of pounds 750 each - including shirt and tie. "It has to be a suit. They're wearing dark grey, but I'd put them in red and black shot mohair - Zegna fabric - very light and half-lined," says Allen. They would also wear a black shirt with a black tie shot with red stripes that you could see from a distance. The suit would be single- breasted, three buttoned and with flat-fronted trousers. "Instead, they've gone for a name," says Allen.

Small companies, however local, simply cannot compete. When Nigel Curtiss, the British menswear designer dressed Manchester United for the 1996 final, he made thirty suits for the team, the subs, and their manager, Alex Ferguson.

"It's a prestigious thing to do. The fact that you've suited up the most famous footballers in the world is worth a lot." However, Curtiss was not paid for the privilege. He split the costs with the Manchester menswear shop, Garcon, which got the business in the first place through regular customers Andy Cole, Paul Ince, and Ryan Giggs. Likewise, Newcastle may not have been loyal to a local designer, but Kenny Dalglish put in a call to the team's favourite suit shop, Cruise Flannels in the Toon's equivalent of Bond Street.

Nigel Cabourn, the Geordie designer who lives in a windmill in the centre of the city might have loved the chance to dress the boys, but the task went to Boss. Navy suits and cream shirts with cutaway collar were shipped over from Germany and although the team is not officially sponsored by the label, they are happy to be as helpful and generous as they can.

Locally, however, it is Cruise that will benefit from the increase in business. Designer menswear is worth in excess of pounds 446 million in the UK and Cruise will be getting their fair share.

Come the World Cup however, Germany can keep their Hugo Boss. England have gone for some of the best made suits in the world. They're British and they're by Paul Smith.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions