2002 – 2021

The niche of the niche is the new normal – Sepp Football Fashion

Sepp is a pioneering magazine that unites the worlds of football and fashion since 2002. In fact, Sepp considers football fashion a proper fashion category. At Pitti Uomo June 2018, Sepp served as centerpiece for the trailblazing exhibition “Fanatic Feelings”. Founder Markus Ebner curated the show together with Francesco Bonami who wrote this brilliant essay:

Thousands of kilometers have been run on the football pitch and thousands of pages of gossip magazines have been flipped to see the looks and styles sported by Tarcisio Burnich, Nereo Rocco, Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera right up to Pogba, Dani Alves and Zidane. Once upon a time, most footballers were masses of muscle with “golden feet” and a one-track mind – off the pitch, they rarely ventured into the world of style and fashion. In fact, players like George Best, Johan Cruyff, Eric Cantona, Gigi Meroni and Gianfranco Zigoni, with his fur coat hat made him look like Marta Marzotto, created a stir and drew criticism from those who saw football as a world of “men” and not fashion-conscious “ladies.”

Then little by little football, like society at large, changed and the boundaries between style, class, fashion and generations got mixed, entangled and shattered. Tattoos, shaved heads and mohawks became distinctive marks for the champions and for their fans. The world ran onto the pitch and the pitch became the world. Fanaticism, fashionism and feelings pervaded everything. Fashion was dragged into the world’s most popular sport by its coattails, and football was pulled out of the chalk lines on the pitch, out of the penalty area, by its jersey. The football player became an endorser or spokesman not only during the 90-minute match but for the rest of the day, month and year. He was no longer endorsing a beverage or cellphone brand but everything he was wearing. It’s no accident that David Beckham was recently appointed ambassador of British fashion. There are brilliant players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who, more than influencers, seem like models who have been styled by tailors Facis or just stepped out of the Riconda store on Via del Corso in Florence – a store which in the 1960s blared from the city’s municipal stadium’s loudspeakers that it was “a brand that means quality, etcetera, etcetera, etcet- era.” If you bought your clothes at Riconda and only Riconda, you would have wanted to sing the jingle, and both Messi and Rolando seem to harbor this hidden desire even if they don’t know what Riconda was about – that is, to be common phenomena or phenomenal commoners. In the meantime, someone like Pogba is dragging fashion into a wild world transforming himself – for example under a Rick Owens’ hood – into a character from the new “Star Wars” series or into a prince from the “Black Panther” tribe. Both fashion and football are tied to the seasons that are getting shorter and shorter – or perhaps getting longer and longer depending on your point of view.

Fashion’s seasons change and are always seeking different goals. Football’s seasons are repetitive and always seek the same thing: the national championship, UEFA Champions League and so on. And yet, on what seems to be this everlasting groundhog day, the worlds of fashion and football reveal a deep feeling and passion that have nothing to do with winning, but also with losing and with imagination. Nothing can be taken for granted in fashion or in football. When I was a young fan of Fiorentina, scoring two goals in the first half meant that the game was practically over. Today, anything can happen up to, or even after, the last second. In fashion, there are no such sudden upsets but it’s true that back then you found a brand and adopted it, transforming it into a badge of your identity and your personal style.

Today, millennials devour brands like extra-time minutes as they continuously change their way of perceiving the world. Only the hardcore supporters remain loyal to their teams until death. If players come and go like fleeting trends, teams are different as you are born a fan of a team and stay a fan until you die – you can even get to the point that you’d kill for the team. The sense of belonging that was once typical of fashion is alive and well today only in football. The scarf is the most conservative and at the same time the most visible accessory the fan can wear. Your team’s scarf is like a dark tie – it goes well with everything from a business suit to a Eurotrash bomber jacket. If the most exclusive fashion events demand a black tie, the most important matches demand the fan scarf. Our friends and enemies have to be able to recognize us.

It would be great to imagine a celebrity arriving at a fashion show wearing and showing off a competitor’s brand and then being attacked by ultras from the likes of Valentino, Prada, or DG. It’s fashion that reveals its latent, suppressed fanaticism. In truth, fashionistas are “closet ultras.” That scarves and fans are important and part of our deep-rooted culture was clear to Maurizio Cattelan, who invented the Museum League and created scarves for the “teams.” Each exhibition is a team with its own colors and slogans: “Let’s go Guggenheim!”, “Booooo Louvre!”, “Metro…Poli… Tan, we’ll bust your butt!”, “Go Uffizi!” “In the valley there’s a blade of grass, Pompidou kiss my a… Pompidou kiss my a…!”

But Cattelan wasn’t the first to borrow football for his oeuvre. Douglas Gordon of Scotland and Philippe Parreno of France made a fantastic video, “Zidane: a 21st-century portrait”, while Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed created an enormous sculpture immortalizing the incident when Materazzi was head-butted by Zidane who as a player and coach has kept a keen eye on fashion. So everything is fashion and everything is football. Deep down inside we all have that feeling of playing in the match of a lifetime every day, every week, every month, every year over the course of our lives. We are passionate about ourselves, fans of our national identity and more than anything managers of our daily lives from which – as opposed to a football team or fashion house – we unfortunately can never be suspended or sacked.

–Francesco Bonami