The most hotly debated football kit release of the last week debuted in Liverpool this week, as PSG and Nike blacked-out in their Champions League season opener at Anfield.
If ever a football club was going to try to claim the title of world’s most fashionable, it was always going to be the opulent, oil-rich French champions Paris Saint Germain.
A club who’s original kit was designed by one of their founders, the fashion designer Daniel Hechter.
A club who once had an away kit inspired by a Louis Vuitton handbag.
A club who this week, launched a new set of special edition kits for this year’s Champions League that sees them move away from their traditional colours.
Special Champions League shirts may not be a new phenomenon but the choice of black instead of PSG’s primary colours of navy blue, white and red has ruffled a few feathers.
Not that the Parisian “Ultras” following PSG at Anfield seemed to care as they stood topless against the Merseyside air for much of Tuesday night’s encounter in the North-West of England.
In a football first, the 2 new sets of strips carry Nike’s alter-ego Jordan brand rather than their usual Swoosh logo, as the sportswear giants look to diversify their offering and bring some variety to football kit couture.
This isn’t the first time Nike have used the Air Jordan “Jumpman” logo outside of a basketball court, but they have carefully selected fashion capital Paris as their first foothold in football.
Aside from the kits PSG will wear in European competition, Nike have released a “collection” of items where the club’s badge and Air Jordan logo are intertwined, and the Eiffel Tower is replaced by a depiction of ol’ Space Jam himself, Mr Michael Jordan.
The effect is neat and has seen fans from Brooklyn to Beijing clamour to grab a piece of the cross-over between street-wear and soccer.
So what’s all the fuss about?
Well, put simply, for many supporters, the idea of football clubs becoming lifestyle brands that chase revenue and celebrity attention as much as they do trophies, moves the game away from the loyal fans who held those teams aloft before the billionaires became interested.
There’s a whiff that PSG would leave their own supporters behind in the chase for the affection of the casual tourist supporter and the international armchair brigade that rushes to buy the latest Galactico shirt from Real Madrid.
“Everyone else is doing it why can’t we?” as PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi might legitimately say.
With both parties aiming to develop new markets and turn the French champions into a fashion statement in their own right, the motivation behind the launch isn’t just about selling “Mbappé” and “Neymar Jr” shirts by the shipping container load. No, they want to sell PSG branded basketball tops and bomber jackets too.
Over recent months, a string of celebrities from Justin Timberlake to Rita Ora, and one of the Kardashians, have been photographed in PSG clothing of one description or another.
Nothing wrong with that, after all each and every Britpop icon worth his salt was seen swigging from a can of lager and playing 5-a-side football back in the mid 1990s.
Football kits are cool. Everyone knows that.
Mick Jagger knows it, the Gallaghers actually agree on it, and Bob Marley, David Bowie and Michael Jackson all knew it too.
The city of Paris goes together with fashion like Liverpool goes with music and ahead of September’s Paris Fashion Week, the men in suits at the Parc des Princes seem to have timed their new release to perfection.
There’s a rich history of fashionable football shirts taking their inspiration from popular culture so there’s nothing particularly innovative about the Jordan/PSG collaboration striking out to be trendy, no matter how hard they may seem to be trying.
If it’s Paris Saint Germain’s elitist intentions for global dominance you don’t like, then it may be time to hate the game as well as the players.
Whatever the sales figures, PSG’s real fans will hope they can keep up with the Bareclonas and Real Madrids as much as they seem to being keeping up with the Kardashians.
What do you think of the new Paris Saint Germain kits?
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