How Football Managers can help you understand Fashion Designers (and vice versa)
Within the modern game of Premier League football where commercial revenue and value constantly increase, the responsibility of a club’s manager has become an almost impossible burden to shoulder. Every move is watched, every substitution analysed, every press conference quote is decoded, and the marketability of individual players has become more prominent than ever before. There is little wonder why there is such a chronic case of short-termism in the world of the football manager.
A similar parallel can be drawn the designers and creative directors at the world’s leading luxury fashion houses. Just like the introduction of English Premier League managers Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea and Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool, recent years have seen luxury brands take a leaf out of the world of football and bravely selected new ‘creative directors’ like Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Dior’s decision to appoint Kim Jones, both offering new philosophies and modern interpretation of brands that have centuries of deeply embedded history, and adapting them for a new generation.
Are the two jobs really so different? Here are five parallels between the creative brands the world of football and luxury fashion…
Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton) and Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Just like Pep Guardiola’s meteoric rise and success at Barcelona and now Manchester City, Virgil Abloh has seen his stock shoot up massively since his debut collection for his brand Off-White. Since his appointment as creative director at Louis Vuitton last year, he has become one of the most celebrated new ‘visionaries’ in his profession. Similar to Pep’s revolutionary ‘tiki-taka’ style of attacking football, Virgil’s fresh colourful streetwear style and non-fashion background has very quickly made him a big player in the men’s fashion world.
Demme Gvasalia (Balenciaga) and Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Not since the 1980s heyday of Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish have Liverpool been in demand at football’s top table. This season however in Jürgen Klopp’s third year at the helm, this may be about to change. This can be also seen at the House of Balenciaga. Ever since Demna Gvasalia – the founder of cooler-than-cool Vetements – took over Balenciaga has become the streetwear label of the moment: logoed hoodies, pre-scuffed ‘dad’ trainers, luxe puffa jackets and oversized shirts to name just a few. Although the brand is rich in history it has to look back to the glory years of the 1960s when Cristobal Balenciaga's sculptural designs quickly came the darling of the press and of the aristocracy fell head over heels in love with the brand.
Riccardo Tisci (Burberry) and Unai Emery (Arsenal)
Arsene Wenger’s rein on the Arsenal bench for 22 years is something we are unlikely to ever see again, but the introduction of new manager Unai Emery has helped bring enthusiasm back to the club. The same can be said for Riccardo Tisci, who succeeded Christopher Bailey at Burberry after at 17 year stint with the British brand. Early signs are indifferent at both brands, with Arsenal’s leaky defence and lacklustre season taking hold and the fact that Burberry has seen falling revenues in the first half of its financial year (Sept 2018) since Mr Tisci took over.
Alessandro Michele (Gucci) and Maurizio Sarri (Chelsea)
As Gucci continues to grow (the brand kicked off 2018 with a massive 49 percent jump in sales), the introduction of Alessandro Michele's glamorously bookish aesthetic and attention-grabbing design has translated brilliantly onto social media and, in turn, winning over a new generation of consumers cementing Gucci as the leading brand for the rich and famous. The same can be seen with Chelsea and the riches of Roman Abramovich. Having spent lavishly on a constant stream of top-quality players and manager (including Italians Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte), Maurizio Sarri was brought in to introduce an exciting, all-action attacking style of football that, win-or-lose, will bring in new eyes to the riches of South West London.
Kim Jones (Dior Homme) and Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)
For the past three seasons, Spurs have arguably been the best team in the Premier League. A lot of that can be pinned on the appointment of Mauricio Pochittino. They have steadily improved each year under Pochettino and have created arguably the best squad they have had in half a century. A young, developing side with an impressive young manager who play progressive, modern football. That rings particularly true with the designers brought in to Dior Homme. The appointment of Hedi Slimane cemented the French house’s impressive reputation as a major men’s label in the early 2000s and seems to have happened all over again with the appointment of Kim Jones. The British designer’s first show was rife with references to the Dior of old — a bee motif, a fabric intended to echo the upholstery in a former studio of founder Christian Dior as well as new silhouettes and collaborations. Dior is now exciting again, as are Spurs.