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Published on March 20th, 2020 | by Hansen Bangala

Football, fights and fashion

There are only so many events and special moments that require you to be suited and booted. When that moment comes it’s usually your Sunday best. The James bond special.

My love for football is as much about the people in the stands as it is about those the players on the pitch. The heart of any club is its fans, and fans love to represent their clubs. One thing we haven’t focused on is the history of English supporter culture. And in particular one incredible movement that’s started in the 70s and still resonates today.

Enter the football casual

You can wear whatever you like. Football casuals aren’t quite as prominent as they used to be but the essence still remains, the history, clothing etc. I didn’t go to proper football games. The ones I did go to were Sunday league sides where clothing was just a means to stay warm. 

Starting in the 1970s, football fans who would wear designer casual clothing – no scarves or colours – to go unnoticed by rival teams to infiltrate firms for fights in which it became associated with hooliganism and danger.

As these organised contests became more of an occurrence, the term football hooligan entered the game’s lexicon. Fans from rival teams would purposely meet up and settle disputes and arguments.

When watching films about these ‘firms’ – Green Street, The Football Factory – I realised just how important terrace wear and football casual clothing has grown to become a prominent part of British culture over time.

Italian brand Stone Island, founded by Massimo Osti, started as a high-end luxury product but became a staple part of the casual wear ‘uniform’ worn by football hooligans.

Osti, also founded CP Company, was another brand beloved by football hooligans and those who love the casual movement.

Italian menswear designs were popularised in the 1980s, when hooligans would wear clothes that did not feature the colours or insignia of their clubs in order to go undetected by the police.

The demand for designer gear and pricey sportswear to avoid police attention made brands such Ellesse, Paul & Shark, Fila, CP Company and Stone Island the look for any match day. But as it became more prominent, it became easier to spot football fans around Europe.

“Being a casual is a way to separate yourself from regular supporters through your clothing and lifestyle,” 

Notable faces

As much as the clothes looked nice, UK football fans had to find clothing suitable to our unpredictable weather and switched to brands which made clothes better suited to the wind, rain and freezing temperatures.

By the 1990s, casual style was epitomised by the likes of Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, sporting the same designer brands the hooligans wore as his music being played up and down the country.

We live in an age now where these brands are worn as actual leisure wear. I now see Stone Island on my daily commute. Young, old, man or woman these clothes are now outside of the pitch and in unis, bars, libraries and anywhere else people wear clothes, too. This is a movement that will never die, I hope to join it. I’m still saving up for my first Stoney…

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