Fashion world looks to football for new star
TAKE a deep breath, everyone. The World Cup begins on Thursday, and the fashion world is ready.
Every four years, designers have a chance to locate, scout and mint a new fashion star. A footballer has the looks, a dash of international flair and a frame made for designer clothes.
Julie Ragolia, fashion director at Man Of The World magazine, said the fashion world's deep interest in soccer is easy to explain: "They are the perfect sample size. You can take a footballer and put him in a sample, and he'd look 100 per cent beautiful."
A shortlist has already emerged of the World Cup-bound players who are ripe for advertisement campaigns and reserved front-row seats.
And when did this fuss start?
"These soccer players, they're pretty happening," men's designer Todd Snyder said. "David Beckham really set the bar. He paved the way for all of this."
The fashion world treats the soccer field like a runway.
In previous World Cups, Armani cast players like Kaka of Brazil and Andriy Shevchenko of Ukraine, while Dolce & Gabbana tapped Lionel Messi of Argentina. Freddie Ljungberg, a former Swedish player, had a panther tattoo stamped just so between his abs and his nether region that was tailor-made for a series of ads he shot for Calvin Klein underwear.
And then there was Japanese player Hidetoshi Nakata.
Nakata played for Japan in the World Cup three times from 1998 to 2006. He did a series of Calvin Klein ads, appeared in a GQ magazine spread and was seated in the front row at shows for Gucci, Givenchy and Dior Homme.
He was also an editor-at-large at Tyler Brule's magazine, Monocle (his most recent contribution was a spread on World Cup logos through the years).
"Nakata's one of those footballers who have crossed over from football to fashion," Kevin Carrigan, a global creative director at Calvin Klein, said. "He's good friends with a lot of designers."
And the fashion world wants to know: Where are the next Beckhams or Nakatas?
If there is one player who's got the early endorsement, it appears to be the biggest sensation in Brazil: Neymar da Silva Santos Junior. Neymar, 22, is playing in his first World Cup.
His global popularity has made him an obvious candidate for the fashion world. He has appeared on the cover of Vogue Brazil, alongside supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
He's also on the cover of the current Wall Street Journal magazine wearing a Calvin Klein Collection sweatshirt (and is one of three cover models for The New York Times Magazine). He seems at ease with his body: YouTube is swimming with Neymar in underwear ads (the label is named Lupo).
"He's kind of got it all: He's good-looking, he's a superstar, and Brazil is a major force in the World Cup, regardless of which country is hosting it," said Will Welch, the style editor at GQ.
"Add in the fact that Brazil is hosting the cup, and that's just ramping it up even further."