With adidas enlisting the help of Wales Bonner to create the 2023 Jamaica national team kits, we take a look at the ongoing trend of high fashion houses designing football shirts.
The adidas Flagship Store in central London was the home of the Jamaica Football Federation kit launch party earlier this month. The first-ever Jamaica kits designed by the Three Stripes didn’t disappoint, and the fashion inspiration was clear to see.
The collaboration with rising label Wales Bonner drew rave reviews, but this isn’t the only time a designer has combined with a football team to strike gold.
The kit rollout for the Reggae Boyz and Girlz consisted of four pieces. The iconic gold home kit, a snazzy dark away set, an oddly festive feeling warm-up top, and a reversible tracksuit.
The launch event itself felt like a mini culture bomb, transporting all in attendance to a warm night in Kingston. There was the food, the music, and of course those kits, which were flying off the shelves at an alarming rate — and rightfully so.
Much of Jamaica’s kits in the recent past have been a mixed bag, with a few hits but also a fair share of misses. With this Wales Bonner collab, they may just have struck gold (pun very much intended).
The home kit, especially at the launch, is the people’s choice of the three. Something about the pinstripe green on the dazzling gold just works, especially with the black accents adorning the cuffs and collar. The shorts do so well to complement the top, sporting a deep green with yellow stripes, the perfect contrast.
The away strip is much more subdued — all black, gold trims, but the collars don the red, green, and gold, a tribute to Jamaica’s heavy Rastafarian culture. The pre-match kit is arguably the most “Bonner” of the three, with a unique, almost Christmas-like pattern all around it. The fourth article on display was a reversible tracksuit, featuring the bright gold on one side, coupled with the pre-match motif design on the reverse.
Partnering with Wales Bonner was no random act, as the luxury fashion house has direct Jamaican roots. Founder Grace Wales Bonner is one-half Jamaican, and the brand describes itself as “infusing European heritage with an Afro Atlantic spirit.”
High fashion collabs in the football world are nothing new, although few have had better synergy than adidas x Wales Bonner x Jamaica. Let’s take a look at some of the predecessors who made way for this to happen.
Nike x Karl Lagerfeld x France (2011)
When Nike became the French national team’s kit supplier in 2011, it knew it had to start things off with a bang. To do so, the Swoosh looked to no other than fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. While German by heritage, Lagerfeld left an indelible mark on the French fashion world, most prominently as the creative director of Chanel.
Lagerfeld helped not only design the inaugural Nike x France away kit, but he photographed it too. It was his only foray into the world of football, but it was one that has not since been forgotten. The 2011 France away shirt is highly sought after amongst collectors and still fetches a high resell value.
Palace x Umbro (2012)
The predecessor to Palace’s Juventus collab (more on that later), this kit was a tribute to the iconic third England jersey worn by the Three Lions at Italia ’90. The set came in white and blue, two gorgeous options, and set the template for many to follow for the next decade.
Real Madrid x Yohji Yamamoto (2014)
The talk of Real Madrid’s kit launch for the 2014-15 season was all about that third shirt. All black with white accents and a faded white dragon draped across the chest — this was one of the most memorable kits ever released. Bold and truly beautiful.
PSG x Jordan (2018-present)
Definitely one of the first collabs that may spring to mind when you mention football and fashion. In 2018, PSG shook up the kit game with a series of sleek, stylish kits, with that iconic Jumpman logo front and center.
This is inarguably the collab with the most longevity, as it’s continued with new drops up to this very day. It’s been a half-decade of hipsters’ dreams, and Paris is now at the epicenter of the kit streetwear culture.
Juventus x Palace (2019)
In the aftermath of the PSG x Jordan link-up, Palace was back with a bang in 2019. Juventus was the canvas for a unique and striking set of kits, as well as a rebrand. With Cristiano Ronaldo among those in the ranks at the time, it’s unsurprising that the kits flew off the shelves. But star power wasn’t the only appeal. Striking neon green and pink, faded stripes, and of course, the fresh new Juve logo made this kit a must-have for so many.
Pharrell x Human Race x adidas Clubs (2020)
A blast from the past, and not just for one club. This kit set was a throwback drop for many of the top adidas juggernauts at the time. Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern, Juventus, and Real Madrid were all blessed with the faded, hand-painted style kits. Real even donned their kits from this collaboration in game.
Jamaicans and members of the diaspora alike will be ecstatic with the Wales Bonner kits. They’re smart, simple and look set to become a staple in streetwear culture. It’s rather fitting that the island nation has a major kit upgrade to coincide with the Reggae Girlz’ resurgence in the past few years. With many of their players performing superbly in Europe and elsewhere, their venture to the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer will be done in style.
Jamaica x Wales Bonner wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last crossover between the worlds of fashion and football.
While it’s always difficult to predict where the next great link-up will come from, one thing is abundantly clear. It’ll be a notable one — for better or worse.