SSince its reboot in 2019, Face magazine has featured Jorja Smith, Tyler, the creator, and Dua Lipa on the cover. This week’s June issue is – in the spirit of re-emergence – less about the solos than about the collective. Or, indeed, the team. It is ready for 202o euros. The cover features Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, along with a cast of 22 other characters, including fashion designer Martine Rose. Rose – with Mount – wears the England fan shirt she designed in collaboration with Nike.
While Rose is not a household name, she has a reputation in the right circles, which means trendy football fans are likely to purchase this jersey when it releases in July. Rose’s clothes were worn by Rihanna and A $ AP Rocky, and Drake starred in her video presentation, What we do all day, published in January.
Since launching her brand in 2007, Rose has always remained on the more experimental side of menswear. She was a consultant for Balenciaga’s Y2K-influenced menswear until 2018, and her own collections were inspired by bus drivers and indoor climbing centers. Her Spring / Summer 2020 show had an anti-Brexit message, with t-shirts that sported the deeply ironic slogan: “Great Britain promising.” Designing an England shirt – with its mass appeal – was a pivotal moment. “It’s quite intimidating, actually… because a lot of people like it,” she said. in his interview with the face. “There is some pressure.”
Shirts for national teams have made the fashion buzz in recent years. The Palace x Umbro England jersey, released in 2012, has become an It item, and is now sought after on sites such as Depop and Grailed. Nigeria’s jersey, for the World Cup in 2018, invited queues outside Nike’s flagship store in London, with 3m of shirts sold. Rose has also played in soccer jerseys before – a 2018 design was a tribute to Liverpool. 90s kits, with the Carlsberg logo replaced by “Martine”.
Since this is not the kit that players wear on the field, Rose has a creative license here. His shirt is oversized, genderless and reversible, with an England crest on one side and a Martine Rose crest on the other. “I like it when things are recognizable or have a sense of familiarity about them, but you look at them through a funhouse mirror or something,” says the designer.
The supporter shirt is dedicated to the Lost lionesses, the team that played the unofficial Women’s World Cup in Mexico in 1971, an event that may have prompted the FA to overturn a 50-year ban on women’s football in the UK (Rose’s crest is a reinterpretation of the one the team wore). Janice Emms and Chris Lockwood, two of the team, now in their 60s, also feature on the cover of The Face.
Rose says it’s stories like these that interest her rather than the sport itself. “The cultural impact of football is always my point of view,” she explains. The designer checks other times, including Robbie Fowler 1997 “doCKers” Shirt in support of the sacked Liverpool dockers, and the reverse shirts of Megan Rapinoe and her American teammates in 2020 to protest against the pay gap between athletes and sportswomen.
It is perhaps surprising that the creator of an anti-Brexit t-shirt has now designed a wearable symbol of jingoistic patriotism and Brexiter-approved. In her interview with The Face, she says she feels “uncomfortable” walking past “a house adorned with British flags, union jacks or a St. George’s cross”.
She found her way to create an England shirt through a childhood memory. “If we saw people in football shirts when they were kids, we would be told to cross the road. Avoid them absolutely because there was something threatening you, unpredictable, ”she said. “The 80s were a time of really terrible football violence. But in 1989 that had changed and I remember… seeing people who we had been told to avoid dancing in a field at all costs, to put their arms around anyone.
Hopefully, over 30 years after that moment, we’ll see similar moments of euphoric unity – football-induced or not – on the streets this summer.