Inspired by football’s street culture, Second Yellow offers streetwear and apparel that’s far from minimalist. We get a glimpse behind the brand’s clever designs, and see just why it’s quickly become one of our favorite new lablels.
We all remember our first yellow. The time you stepped over the line and got checked by the referee. First time or not, most players take that small plastic card seriously, and chances are they’ll dial it back after seeing its glossy sheen in their direction. However, there’s a select breed of footballer that is immune to the yellow card’s authority. If you’ve ever crossed the line twice in one match to draw a second yellow, my hat is off to you. That’s badass.
Unfortunately, it also means your day is over as far as playing goes. You’re out — blood pressure still high, heart still thumping, sweat still beading. Thankfully, you can still experience the game in other ways. The culture isn’t contained by chalk lines or a referee who’s obviously biased against you.
From the mind of Australian designer Denver Ross, Second Yellow is a new streetwear label that aims to take the conversation off the pitch and keep it going for longer than 90 minutes — or whenever you got y’ass kicked out the match.
Ross’ understanding of street football culture comes from his upbringing in India.
“I played football all my life,” he said. “In India we never had equipment or stadiums, it was more pick a ball, pick 10 people from the neighborhood, and just play until the night goes off. It all started from there.”
After growing up in India his family moved to Australia when he was around 10. His mother, a graphic design teacher, helped cultivate and nurture his interest in design and creativity. She taught him the basics of Photoshop and from there he went on to learn video editing, website design, animation, and photography. All of these elements have been combined in building Second Yellow from the ground up.
But the seeds of the brand weren’t planted until he took a trip to London. Ross, an Arsenal supporter through and through, was excited to go to the official team store and see all the merchandise for sale, only to be left underwhelmed by what he found.
“I was pretty disappointed because merchandise in the football sphere is generic,” Ross said. “You have a club logo just plastered on a shirt or a hoodie and I felt the conversation stopped at that point. You see someone walking past and you’re like, ‘Oh he’s an Arsenal supporter,’ but that’s it, you know? I felt there was more to explore. There were quite a few subcultures within football [whose aesthetic] I wanted to combine with street sense. Just pick and choose, play around, and be a bit cheeky.”
Another big inspiration to Ross was the classic Nike “Cage Match” commercial series from 2002. A truly iconic ad campaign, all of that era’s superstars played in an epic underground 3v3 tournament that took place on a gigantic boat in the middle of the ocean. Presided over by none other than the legend Eric Cantona, it was awe-inspiring, massive, and above all else, insanely cool.
“That sort of built the street culture even more for me,” Ross said. “You take it off the pitch and it doesn’t stop after 90 minutes. There’s something more to it.”
Recently, the release of the 2018 Nike Nigeria kit also drew similar interest from a lot of the sporting world and designers alike. The creativity of the kits alone was something special, but also the rollout of the accompanying apparel collection felt like something more from the fashion world as opposed to the sporting world.
Young designers like Ross definitely took notice and started to realize that the sky’s the limit as far as the cross-pollination between soccer, street fashion, and branding is concerned.
Back in Australia, Ross started kicking things into action with Second Yellow. Being in sole control of the creative side helped keep the designs and the aesthetic cohesive, and since everything was made in-house, it also gave the brand a sort of homegrown handmade quality as well. This has allowed Ross to experiment with designs and do special one-off jerseys and shirts to gauge interest from his growing audience.
For example, when Skepta came to Sydney last year he made a one-off jersey for a mate to rock to the show and the feedback was incredibly positive.
“It’s the experimental stage that we’re going through, like bringing in subcultures, pop culture references, and music, and just trying to have some fun with it in the end,” says Ross.
By taking the 2 L’s out of “Yellow” and instead using brackets, Ross has taken the word and morphed it into a language device. The brackets can be used to highlight a picture or specific image within a picture, and even to represent the outline of a pitch.
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Because Second Yellow is built on a pillar against slapping a logo on a shirt and calling it a day, you won’t find a lot of generic action happening on their products. From their vibrant black and yellow color scheme to their controlled chaos on shirts, there’s not much ordinary here. They have a love for anything that seems extra in the football world, and it works to their favor.
As far as plans for the future go, look for Second Yellow to continue experimenting and tweaking their methods for as long as they want. For Ross, it’s not about mass producing tees with his logo on it. He wants to tell stories, evoke passion, and capture the essence of football culture.
“Our long term plan is to keep telling stories, because there’s always a story within each week of football,” Ross said. “Top of the mind for example is the Liverpool Champions League run in 2005, the comeback. That’s a story that I could explore on the design or animation side of things, and just use clothing as a canvas.
But Second Yellow doesn’t want to stick just to football and its stories. We want to link music and cult movies. For example, we’re going to look into in ‘Puff, Puff, Give’ from Friday, even little details like ‘fucking up the rotation.’ There’s soccer in there but there’s also this other element of, ‘Whoa, that’s this movie I love and it’s on a soccer jersey.’”
The world needs Craig and Smokey on a football kit. We’re very much here for this.