One Flashy Kick: Does Football Need It?

NikeLab X Olivier Rousteing

The visuals of Nike’s latest collaboration are one flashy swan dive into what was once Gianni Versace’s territory in the 1990s. Well, it’s not unexpected when the collaborator is Olivier Rousteing, young master of what the media likes to call “opulent aesthetic”. After all, the Frenchman does share the Italians’ love of ostentation (well, he did kick-start his career with Roberto Cavalli). Now, he’s brought that opulence to, of all games, football!

The collaboration, called Football Nouveau, is done sans Balmain, but not without the OTT punch that Mr Rousteing has brought to the brand. This, in the end, is his code, or to borrow from English football, his “bend it like Beckham”. Question is, will David Beckham, the original metrosexual, wear these flashy clothes and shoes? Becks is an Adidas man (in 2003, he signed what was then the biggest endorsement deal: USD160 million lifetime contract), so it’s doubtful he will embrace the “opulent aesthetic”.

NikeLab X Olivier Rousteing 2

Cristiano Ronaldo, however, endorses Nike, so he will, and he does. In fact, he is cast in the advertising campaign and happily supports Mr Rousteing too. It’s not clear how (or if) this will affect his deal with Giorgio Armani. Considered the “muse” of modern men’s fashion, Cristiano is probably the best bridge between fashion and the beautiful game. Still, it’s hard to see scores of footballers and football types crossing it, but one Tweet from Kanye or Kim may send many excitedly over to the dark—and gilded—side.

To be fair, these aren’t excesses as cringe-worthy as those seen in Mr Rousteing’s Balmain. There’s only the colour gold making its dazzling cameo in a collection that’s all-black. It’s athleisure glammed up for nights under dimly-lit mirrored balls, rather than to watch a match in flood-lit Wembley stadium, or Jalan Besar. Nike hails the pairing as “a golden touch” and let on that the output takes “the lifestyles of professional football players competing in Europe’s biggest championship this summer as inspiration”. Their lifestyles? If The Secret Footballer, writing in The Guardian is not sharing fib, the lifestyles of those in the Premier League are not that inspirational!

Olivier Rousteing

Nike is perhaps trying to emulate H&M’s wild success with the French brand. To be more accurate, this is a project with the division NikeLab, which is known for their technically advanced garments and footwear, much of it predate Alexander Wang’s dabbling of so-called athletic wear. There are very few NikeLab stores globally, and not many stockists either. It shall be interesting to see what mayhem will break out when the line drops on 2 June.

It is always thought that Nike prefers to work with less mainstream designers. One of the earliest to collaborate with the Oregon-based company is CDG’s Junya Watanabe. In fact, till today, Nike offers exclusive pieces in unusual colour ‘packs’ at Dover Street Market. However, after it’s pairing with Ricardo Tisci some seasons back, it seems Nike is now taking the same path as rival Adidas: choose partners whose social media presence can be felt even when you don’t check your IG account incessantly. Problem is, so many of them, such as He Who Loves To Rant, tend to err on the Beng side. Olivier Rousteing, to quite a few of us, is the same.

No news yet on the availability of Nike X Olivier Rousteing in Singapore. Photos: Nike/Nick Knight