Back when I was 11, I used to think that, thanks to J.J.B. Sports, the only sports brands that existed were Adidas, Nike and Reebok. Not true. Andy Murray sports Fred Perry, the Welsh rugby team play in Under Armor and Portsmouth F.C. wear Canterbury kits. The truth is that this completely fictional, holy trinity of brands has now been superseded by a new generation of sports clothing.
For me this became apparent in 2005. I was on my way to a tennis match when on Radio 2 came a program about the rise of the word «chav». Described by Urban Dictionary as «fag in one hand, jewellery in the other», they wonder around housing estates in «imitation Adidas tracksuits». This is further complemented on television shows like Channel 4’s Shameless, and thanks to characters like Mickey Maguire the identity of the tracksuit being an an innocent staple of 1980’s football, the tracksuit has become, with the right person, responsible for crimes against others as well as fashion.
Today the blandest one-piece on the market, that was the Adidas trademark, has been replaced by apparel from brands like Canterbury, Under Armour and Kukri. Homoerotic super skin-tight base layers are the main culprit. Seemingly a size too small, many sportsman wear them to keep warm and in contact sports for «bosh-protection’. Stemmed from rugby league where it was used so opponents couldn’t grab on to shirts when making a tackle, base layers are becoming a «necessity» in all sports. No longer does your typical Premier League footballer embrace northern away trips to Newcastle on a winter night in just an away jersey.
European imports from Spain, Portugal, France, now must play in long sleeves, polar necks and base layers to keep warm. However some players just take it too far. In 2005 Ryan Giggs played in black tights to «protect his hamstrings» against Manchester City. This doesn’t help re-enforce that football is a man’s game but more of a «dress-up» by major brands on their own Barbie dolls, sorry, football players. However with this new generation of brands like Canterbury not having the arsenal, ahem, of clothing available to them some order has been restored.
Instead of the cliched university stereotype that if you have a Jack Will’s top, you have Canterbury tracky b’s, went to public school etc many others like footballers and hockey players alike are buying these clothes too. Whether rugby players like it or not.
By Joel Girling
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