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History of the Football Casuals
British football support has had a strong fashion-led subculture element since the rise of the teddy boys in the mid 1950s. This continued with the mods of the early 1960s, the Skinheads of the late 1960s (and later), and the mod revialists of the late 1970s.
The casual subculture began in the late 1970s after Liverpool F.C.and Everton F.C. fans introduced the rest of England to European fashions that they acquired while following Liverpool at their 1977 European Cup quarter final against the French side St Etienne.These Liverpool fans arrived back in England with expensive Italian and French designer sportswear, most of which they looted from stores. The fans brought back many unique clothing brands that had not been seen in the country before. Soon other fans were clamouring for these rare items of clothing, such as Lacoste or Sergio Tacchini shirts, and unusual Adidas trainers, which are still associated with Liverpool supporters today. At the time, many police forces were still on the lookout for skinhead fans wearing Dr. Martens boots, and paid no attention to fans in expensive designer clothing.
In the 1980s, other clothing labels that became associated with casuals included: Pringle, Burberry, Fila, Stone Island, Fiorucci, Pepe, Benetton , Ralph Lauren, Henri Lloyd, Ben Sherman, Fred Perry, Kappa and Slazenger. Fashion trends frequently changed, and the casual subculture reached its peak in the late 1980s. With the arrival of the acid house, rave Madchester scenes, the violence of the casual subculture faded.
In the mid-1990s, the casual subculture experienced a revival, but emphasis on style had changed slightly. Many football fans adopted the casual look as a kind of uniform, identifying them as different from the ordinary club supporters. Popular clothing brands included Stone Island, Aquascutum, Burberry, Lacoste,Prada, Façonnable,Hugo Boss,Maharishi,Mandarina Duck and Dupe. In the late 1990s, many football supporters began to move away from the brands that were considered the casual uniform, because of the police attention that these brands attracted. Several designer labels also withdrew certain designs from sale after they became associated with casuals.
Casual fashion experienced an increase in popularity in the 2000s, with British music acts such as The Streets and The Mitchell Brothers sporting casual outfits in their music videos. Casual culture has been highlighted by films and television programmes such as ID, The Firm, The Football Factory and Green Street. Although some casuals have continued to wear Stone Island clothing in the 2000s, many have detached the compass badge so as to be less obvious. However, with the two buttons still attached, those in the know are still able to recognise the clothing items. Other clothing labels associated with casuals in the 2000s have included: Adidas Originals Lyle &Scott, Fred Perry, Armani, Lambretta, Lacoste, Nudie,Edwin, Superga. Many casuals have adopted a more subtle and underground look, avoiding more mainstream clothing brands for independent clothing labels.
Some of the most important casual brands...
Lyle & Scott
Lyle & Scott is a comeback brand to the Football Casual scene. Having originally made their name in the golf wear market they have developed ranges of polo shirts and jumpers which made them one of the hottest brands on the terraces during the boom of 80's casual culture. The brand was first spotted as mainly v-neck jumpers which were worn over t-shirts or long collar shirts.
The golden eagle motif is now one universally recognised as being the stand out icon of the Lyle & Scott brand. Unfortunately, Lyle & Scott, despite its links to the past, is now no longer a credible brand at this time in the UK. However, we believe it has every chance of making a comeback once the 'Parrotheads' have got bored and moved onto something else.
Stone Island was founded in 1982 by Massimo Osti who was inspired by his love of sailing, and hence where the famous compass motif originated from. In the nineties and noughties, if you were serious about about having a row - this was the brand to be seen in. It's robust design, hard wearing fabric and high quality finish had made this brand a mainstay in Football Casual fashion.
The compass motif badge is an optional button-on with the jackets. Although historically a status symbol amongst the Football Casual crowd, the brand can now be seen more widely in popular culture and therefore is rapidly losing it's status amongst the Football Casual elite. Some fear the saturation of fakes on eBay have damaged the brand beyond repair.
Lacoste has historically made it's name through tennis - it's founder was French tennis star René Lacoste who launched the clothing company in 1933.
Having diversified through the years to incorporate more clothing lines, Lacoste had a crisis of confidence in the 70's and 80's - just as the brand was becoming prominent on the football terraces. However, it is still very much an essential brand in the Football Casual wardrobe. Acceptable as sweaters, knits - or most popularly polo shirts. The green crocodile motif came from René's nickname "Le Crocodile".
Aquascutum got it's name from the latin for 'water shield'. During the First and Second World Wars, the company had successfully developed showerproof wool techniques - making their garments robust and light.
The brown and blue Aquascutum check came to prominence in the 1970's and is now widely associated with the brand. In recent years the brand has done it's utmost to distance itself from the 'hooligan' association. One of it's most recent collections features Pierce Brosnan - as if to highlight it's aim to attract the Marks & Spencers generation. Despite their attempts at mediocrity, many of the products stand the test of time in Football Casual culture due to their sheer quality.
Jeremy Hackett moved to London and worked in the fashionable King's Road before accepting a position at a tailors shop on Savile Row. Through this he met up with Ashley Lloyd-Jennings, who shared similar tastes, and between them they decided to start Hackett.
With a firm foothold in the Polo wear market, this is the area in which the Football Casual came into contact with the brand. The Hackett polo shirt has been synonymous with Football Casual culture of recent years, despite Mr Hackett himself not being particularly happy with that fact.
Similar to Lacoste, Fred Perry has it's origins in tennis shirts and was founded by a star of the sport. When the fledgling mod movement of the 50's and 60's took off, Fred Perry actively promoted themselves as a fashion brand by adapting to the requests of the market, becoming widely accepted by off-shoots such as ska and skinheads.
By actively embracing the fashion market of those consumers who enjoyed the durability of the honeycomb cotton fabric and it's smart aesthetics, Fred Perry has long been a staple brand of the Football Casual diet. However, by diversifying in recent years into the lower-end market, it has somewhat devalued the brand.
The polo shirts are still iconic lines of clothing and credible football fashion items.
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Another former tennis star, Italian Sergio Tacchini launched his designer clothing brand in 1966. The brand came to real prominence in the 70s and 80s when the likes of Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe started to wear the colourful attire on court.
Sergio Tacchini soon become a fashionable brand on the Football Casual scene in the 80s as the interest in high-end European sportswear began to take root on the terraces of Britain. The brand enjoyed a revival on the terraces after the release of "The Busines" with casuals who love the vintage 80s sportswear look.
One of the world's biggest sports brands is adidas. This in itself would put off some sub-cultures, but what adidas offer the Football Casual is something unique. A sub-culture within a sub-culture. Their back catalogue of trainers are hugely sought-after collectables and are the ultimate accessory. The rarer the better in terms of Football Casual culture.
Although perfectly acceptable in the form of vintage footwear, it doesn't apply to all ranges of clothing. I would recommend seeking out Samba, Trimm Trab, Munchen, Stan Smith, SL72, Italia, Gazelle and Forest Hills as a good base to start from.
Although wearing a pair of chunky climacool is probably comfortable but it isn't Football Casual.
Little did the 21 year old Thomas Burberry know that when he opened his first shop in Basingstoke, Hampshire in 1856 that over 150 years later his surname would be synonymous with the badge of the chav - the Burberry Check.
Before being brutalised by the media, Burberry was very much a credible brand for the Football Casual. The Burberry Check, used in subtle quantities, was a statement of style. Unfortunately, the rise of the chav and their moody fakes has meant that the check is no longer an acceptable addition to the wardrobe. However, Burberry have been working hard to to reduce their use of the pattern, and have concentrated on going back to basics. We believe that Burberry can still be credible, but stay clear of the check.
Henri Lloyd was established in Manchester in 1963, to cater for yachtsmen and sailors looking for robust sailing wear.
Its arrival on the Football Casual scene seemed to have come to prominence in the 90's, as more and more Football supporters were looking for stylish brands that had roots in other sports which could be introduced as credible brands on the football terraces.
Pringle was established as Waldie, Pringle & Wilson in 1815, and have spent the past 190 odd years developing one of Scotland's most iconic brands. Pringle developed it's heritage through golf wear like fellow Scottish brand Lyle & Scott.
Pringle was at the height of it's popularity with the Football Casual back in the 70's and 80's when the likes of Tony Jacklin, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player sported the popular v-neck jumpers out on the golf course. The brand went a little stale in the 90's in terms of the Football Casual scene, but is now a popular brand amongst vintage lovers.
Fila was founded in 1911 by the Fila brothers who were looking to cater for people who lived in the Italian Alps. The brand come to prominence in the 70's when they endorsed Tennis superstar Björn Borg.
In the 80's Fila BJ track tops and polo shirts were very popular within the Football Casual scene, and have enjoyed a recent revival after being featured alongside another 80's favourite Sergio Tacchini, in the film "The Business". However, they are another brand whose licensing into other lines such as cheap trainers and socks have somewhat devalued their cachet. However, the vintage ranges still have kudos.
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Polo Ralph Lauren
The label Polo was originally founded in 1968 as a necktie business by Ralph Lauren. Since then the company has become known as Polo Ralph Lauren and has become a multi-billion dollar fashion empire.
Polo Ralph Lauren's philosophy has been based on creating long-term durable fashion wear. This approach has developed a respect from the Football Casual for the polo shirts and casual shirt ranges in particular.
Lois was created in 1962 and quickly became one of the most popular European brand of jeans. Celebrities endorsements over the years have come from the likes of Bjorn Borg and Johan Cruyff. The brand took off very quickly in the 70's, achieving acceptance in Spain and France, as well as the football terraces of England.
Lois jeans and jumbo cords, in various styles and colourways, took off in Football Casual culture in the late 70's and early 80's, and worked perfectly with a great pair of vintage adidas trainers. Now probably mainly worn by vintage lovers, but a fondly remembered brand none the less.
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Chester Perry as the company was originally called, was setup in 1975 with the view of bringing together the simplicity and style of working class attire with a military robustness. It's unique approach to adding as much individuality as possible to each garment and using non-conventional fabrics, quickly gave rise to their popularity within the Football Casual scene.
Regularly spotted in the 80's, it wasn't long before every self-respecting casual had one or more pieces from the brand. Now part of the Stone Island family, C.P Company seems to be the more favored of the two brands these days. The natural, and some would even go as far to say better quality successor to the former king of the casual brands - Stone Island.
ONETrueSaxon is a brand that was established in 1998 by a number of former Paul Smith employees. Basing themselves in Nottingham, the heart of England, their clothing took pride on the patriotism of Englishness and incorporated the heart of England itself.
Although the brand has been probably more popular in the Midlands and in the North of England, many Football Casuals alike have appreciated the simplicity of the designs and quality durable fabric. OTS was once a brand enjoyed almost exclusively within Football Casual culture - but has now entered the mainstream. Fears that the brand's recent addition to the Littlewoods Catalogue may spell the end of the high-end quality appear to be a little premature. Mass-market production and marketing doesn't have to be detrimental to the brand, providing cut, design and fabric quality doesn't drop.
Emporio Armani is one of nine Armani clothing labels, and caters for the ready-to-wear designer boutique market. Founded by legendary Italian designer Giorgio Armani, Emporio became the 'mid range' label. Not as exclusive as 'Black Label' or 'Armani Collezioni'. Emporio also seems to be platform for which the popular Aramni Jeans label is sold through.
Emporio Armani came into Football Casual culture during the 80's when the focus started moving away from designer sportswear to a more designer label look. Armani jumpers were very popular early on, before other lines started to become introduced over time.
Ben Sherman is a foundation brand of mod culture, and then subsequently found it's way into Football Casual subculture. It was founded in 1963 by Arthur Bernard Sugarman, who had changed his name to Ben Sherman whilst living in America 17 years earlier.
It was the first company to produce the famous Oxford button-down shirt, which became a fashion staple for mods, skinheads and suedeheads. It has been around for almost 50 years within various lad cultures one way or another. However, since the 90's over-saturation of the checked shirt - it has now become passe and rarely seen within UK firms - althogh still popular in some European countries.
Paul Smith is a fashion designer from Nottingham who opened his first store in 1970. Ever since then, his approach to menswear has been universally appreciated. The philosophy of melding simplicity with quality has earned the brand a worldwide reputation.
Paul Smith has been a peripheral brand in Football Casual culture since the 80's and continues to be popular even today. Although now mainstream, many Casuals are loyal to the classic British styling.
Paul & Shark
Paul & Shark was founded in 1921 in Varese, Italy. The men's sportswear arm of the company was launched in 1977, and has been a popular brand on the Football Casual scene ever since.
The brand was first spotted in the mid to late 80's and is now a staple brand, particularly with firms based in the north. It's arguably a more popular brand on the continent, but has a continuously loyal fan base in the UK. The sweaters, with their simple styling and subtle branding, make this particular range of clothing very popular amongst many of the Casuals.
Fjällräven was founded in 1950 by Åke Nordin and is a Swedish company. Fjällräven translates as 'Arctic Fox'. They specialise in outdoor equipment, but mainly focus on clothing. The original idea of creating clothing from tent fabric proved to be a master-stroke. Over the years it has developed it fabrication processes, introducing beeswax and other formulants, to create it's now famous G-1000 fabric - completely waterproof, dirt repellent and highly robust.
Fjällräven is a relative newcomer to the Football Casual scene, where its appearance as a brand in the nineties started to gain in popularity. By the noughties the 'Greenland Jacket' was spotted on a regular basis. Other highlight jackets are the "Telemark","Nordli","Montt" and "Amazon".
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In 1906, William Riley, a 33 year old English expatriate, founded the New Balance Arch Support Company. Originally specialising in arch supports, the company didn't make its mark until 1961 when they launched a shoe called the 'Trackster' - the world's first running shoe with a ripple sole. Also, it was the first running shoe to be offered in varying widths and soon became a favourite with running coaches and athletes. Its success at that point was purely down to word of mouth, until in 1972 when Jim Davis bought the company. It's Boston heritage allowed the company to catch the running boom of the 80's where it prospered at the height of the jogging phenomenon. Today, 40% of all New Balance's European trainers are made in England.
New Balance was a peripheral Football Casual brand from the 80's, and although couldn't break the adidas stranglehold as a whole, was still a credible addition to the wardrobe. Since then the shoes have become favourites for indie kids, skater types and parrot heads and it's popularity amongst casuals has faded as a result. It's sleek, light and retro design - as well it's durable sole and varying widths really make this brand a real favourite. We would recommend the 410's, 574's and 576's as good entry points into the brand.
J Barbour & Sons were established in South Shields in 1894 by Scotsman John Barbour. Originally a maker of drapery, Barbour expanded into clothing as the docking and fishing industries were flourishing in the North East of England in the early 1900's. Still a family-run business, Barbour has developed it's reputation by branching into other markets such as clothing for fishermen, farmers, hunters and country gents. Barbour's reputation for creating durable garments is legendary.
Barbour is a brand that was spotted in Football Casual culture as early as the 1980's. The Wax Cotton which Barbour has built it's reputation on, took a while for many Casuals to be comfortable with as the brand was so strongly associated with toffs and country types. For the last twenty years or so Barbour's reputation for quality and durability has made it a growing favourite in many a casual's wardrobe. Highlight jackets include the classics "Beaufort","Northumbria" and "Liddesdale".
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6876 was created in 1995 by noted mens fashion designer Kenneth MacKenzie. Its name was derived from the year of the French students revolution of 1968 and when Punk broke in the UK in 1976.
A relative newcomer to the Football Casual scene, the brand has enjoyed a loyal fanbase as its design principles are in tune with that of the casual. Focus on detail and high quality fabrics have made the jackets in particular a chaps favourite. The iconic Capandula is a collectors piece and is much sought after. The Sonora jacket is also finding its popularity gaining fast.
In 1884 a young cutler by the name of Karl Elsener formed his own business in Ibach-Schwyz, Switzerland. Within 7 years his business were supplying the Swiss Army with soldiers' knives for the first time. In order to make them stand out from copies, he soon introduced the now world famous cross and shield emblem onto the products. The company got its full name of 'Victorinox' in 1921 when Elsener decided to combine his mother's name of 'Victoria' and the name for Stainless Steel which was also known as 'Inox'. In 1989 the company expanded its range outside of Swiss Army knives into watches. In 1999 they expanded even further into high quality luggage. In 2001 a clothing collection was developed for the North American market.
Victorinox clothing only came into the Football Casual consciousness in recent years. The ethos of high quality finish, functional design and clean lines appeal to those looking for a clinical style. Some casuals have gone as far to suggest that Victorinox has every chance of toppling Stone Island as the most definitive Casual brand, but only time can tell if the brand's attraction will be a mainstay. We recommend jackets, knitwear and polos.
Looking for designer clothing online? Then visit The Casuals Directory - www.thecasualsdirectory.com
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