ADIDAS PREDATOR TR: AN EARLY BUT LASTING STRIKE?

The pun is intended when I say you cannot keep a Predator like this caged. If you follow all the familiar sites on leaked releases, you might have known about the return of the Predator in all its OG glory for quite a few weeks now, but I doubt you would have expected to be able to get your hands on a pair even before any sort of official press release. This is exactly what took place over the weekend as both Canadian retailers Livestock and Off the Hook struck early with this drop. It is no surprise that most sizes are now sold out, but of course, that is beside the point, as today I am here not to state so much of the obvious, but rather to explain how I see this Predator playing out in the larger scheme of things.

The electricity yellow Predator which released just last month provides as a good model of comparison for this latest release. I bought a pair for myself and as such, I can attest to the comfort, authenticity, and nostalgia that the shoe has going for it. However, even with all that, it is plain to see that this shoe just doesn’t have the same pull this latest Predator, which is back in the colors it is best known for, has. For this reason, I have to be honest with myself and all of you in admitting to experiencing the slightest amount of buyer’s remorse.

However, despite liking one pair more than the other, I can still be critical of the shoe as a whole. When looking at both the release pics or when finally putting on a pair of Predator TR’s myself, there is one thing that stuck out immediately. Design-wise these shoes are not winning any more hearts. To be clearer, these shoes are simply for the die-hards who connect with all the nostalgia that the cleat elicits.

With this sense of sanctity that I identify with the Predator, it is important to address whether adidas should be saturating the market with more of these Predator releases. Considering only a few weeks have elapsed since the last release, that is the indication I get and I obviously have my reservations about this. In churning out more Predator releases, it is possible adidas may just be giving the people what they want, but at the same time, they could also just be capitalizing on something that they believe has a short lifespan.

I regard myself truly lucky and blessed for having lived through what I lived. The predator is a hallmark of the soccer culture I have lived through, but I am not sure if quite the same example exists for the kids growing up and loving the game today. There is thus an unprecedented magnitude to this Predator release as I am now able to see past what it represents to me alone and instead look at what it can and should represent to every soccer fan old and young.

To every person reading this, I simply leave you with this: look past the consumerism and ask yourself how you will use this product to pass on a particular part of your soccer culture so that this culture simply doesn’t die, but instead endures through the soccer fans that come after you.

Images via Hypebeast.

BBC GOES OUT OF THIS WORLD FOR ITS WC-INSPIRED CAPSULE

Although this year’s World Cup is far behind us, that doesn’t mean we need to forget and move on from the one-in-every-four year event. In fact, all the better to remember its impact to help spur on more culture surrounding the sport. Especially out here in the States, given that we, along with our neighbors Mexico and Canada, will be hosting the global tournament in 2026 following Qatar for 2022 (the first Arab state to host the World Cup). To help keep our soccer spirits up, up and away, we have Billionaire Boys Club: the fashion brand/retailer and brainchild of both Pharrell Williams and BAPE founder NIGO.

For its Summer 2018 NYC-exclusive capsule collection, the premium streetwear label has delivered a vibrant and whimsical array of athletic pieces inspired by the recently passed World Cup. The drop includes a range of silhouettes, from player jerseys to goalie long-sleeves, warm-up suits, short and more. The main attraction for the collection as a whole, however, is it’s diverse and fun designs that features tie-dye, camo, and classic soccer stripes patterning, as well as BBC’s classic space-centric motifs. Details include “7 Mercer” and “212” notes that nods to the brand’s NYC flagship.

To showcase the pieces in use, courtesy of the kind people at Billionaire Boys Club, we decided to explore our own urban landscape for the setting of our original fashion editorial, which you can see throughout. The pieces are currently available at BBC’s NYC flagship store, so be sure to stop by if you’re in the area:

BBC Flagship Store
7 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

FOOTBALL IS FEMALE | THE WOMEN OF WORLD CUP 2018

If you’re familiar with what we do at Kicks to the Pitch, you’ll know of our feature series titled Chicks in Kits, a channel where we highlight female enthusiasts of the beautiful game, from ex-pro soccer players to creatives to fitness trainers, all of which share the same passion for the sport. As of today, we’ve decided to get with the times and rename the series to Football is Female in a bid to open our platform up to a more gender-balanced approach. Kicking off the revised series is a look at some of the stand out female fans that have trekked the globe to support our favorite global sporting event: the World Cup.

Taken while we were out there in Russia covering the games for our own purposes, we’ve managed to grab the emotion, intensity, highs, lows, and everything in-between from some of the many faces captured within the crowds. Stay tuned for more from our #footballisfemale series to come.


The Moment CR7 Knew Juve Was Next

England and Croatia both just had the world stop for over 90 minutes as they duked it out for a place in the World Cup 2018 Finals. Before that, Belgium and France, the third and seventh-ranked teams in the world, squared off in an equally intense semi-final to quite possibly the most exciting World Cup to date. Yet, headlining the world tabloids still was not that Samuel Umtiti header or the World Cup at all, but rather, again on Cristiano Ronaldo. The star Portuguese forward who just won his third consecutive Champions League final with Real Madrid, has personally opted to be traded to an unlikely spot… the Italian champions Juventus.

What may come as a surprise to many, is, in fact, a divorce that has been years in the making. Ronaldo’s decision to leave the club he dreamt of as a child quite simply comes down to his treatment by the man who brought that dream to life: Real Madrid President Florentino Perez. To start, Perez has a reputation for ruthlessly instating his Galacticos policy of bringing world-class talent in every summer transfer period. Amongst the elite footballers, we’ve seen the likes of Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo Lima to Luka Modrić, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo; all of which brought the spotlight and silverware back to the Santiago Bernabéu. However, in doing so, Perez notably has gained a reputation of avoiding defensive-minded talent, budding into in-game managerial decisions and focusing the club’s interests more on its marketing rather than the longevity of its playing success.

In comes Ronaldo, a player who in his nine-year tenure at the club has won fifteen trophies — which include two Copa Del Rey’s, two La Liga titles along with four Champions League titles and four Ballon D’or’s to cement his place at the top of the totem pole. Despite these unbelievable achievements, Ronaldo has felt unappreciated by Los Blancos, apparent in his contract quarrels with Perez and the lack of support he received from the club following his five-match suspension back in the 2017-2018 season.

Perhaps Perez is a genius in allowing Ronaldo, who turns 34 in February, to walk and in doing so receive a healthy return ($100 million and free up $55 million in wages). However, logic leads us to believe otherwise, for the question mark still surround Madrid who many believe isn’t managed properly, and is entirely attack-minded and won much of its Champions League and La Liga success on the heels of Ronaldo’s 450 goals and 138 assists.

So why Juve? Why not Paris-Saint Germain or rather his other home, Old Trafford? I believe the Portuguese international made that decision back in April, upon getting up from one of the greatest bicycle kicks to date against the very club he’s decided to join. Instead of boos and jeers from a group of supporters who’ve seen Real Madrid end their Champions League dreams twice in the past three season, Ronaldo was shocked to witness a round of applause by the Bianconeri faithful. It’s in that moment that he felt the appreciation he’s longed for in the Spanish capital and is what has led him to add black stripes to the iconic white kit he has donned over the years.

Time will be the ultimate decider on whether Perez is indeed a genius by instead reeling in a Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, or Neymar. Or rather, perhaps it’s Ronaldo that takes a page out of Tom Brady’s book and fights back father time by proving he is the G.O.A.T., and in doing so bring Juventus its first Champions League title since 1996.

EXPLORING THE MOST CAPTIVATING CREST ORIGIN STORIES

Three lions, four birds, and a cross of the knights templar walk into a World Cup… The origins of global soccer crests is a tangled mess of lions, tigers, eagles and rosaries — as complex and intertwined as the beautiful game itself. Now that we’ve passed the knockout stages, here are a few of the best origin stories behind the sigils of our World Cup favorites.


JAPAN (The three-legged crow)
Japanese design culture has always a boasted a beauty rooted in being painstakingly well-considered. The nation’s soccer kits for their beloved “Samurai Blue” are no different. The JFA crest prominently depicts the Yatagarasu – the three-legged crow – who in Asian myth serves as a kind of avatar for divine intervention or a messenger from the gods. Under the crow’s front-most talon is, of course, the rising sun, emblematic of modern Japan. To this day, the winners of the “Emperor’s cup,” Japan’s oldest domestic trophy, are awarded a Yatagarasu emblem on their kit as a reward, further conflating Japanese monarchy with the divine.


MEXICO (El Tri)
El Tri’s current crest has been in rotation since ‘94 and shares the same eagle as the Mexican flag. But instead of the eagle perched on a cactus, it is instead rocking atop The Aztec calendar. That nod to the ancient Aztecs weaves a rich tapestry of Mexico’s indigenous iconography into the Passion and Orgullo (pride) of their soccer history.


FRANCE (Rooster)
Sometimes a simple pun, perhaps even a homonym, can stir up a symbol to last over 100 years. For many scholars, the fact that the Latin root for the region of Gaul (Gallus) was identical to the Latin word for the rooster (Gallus) served as a genuine LOL moment for the people of the Middle Ages. Oh, how these people would laugh at the pleasant coincidence while associating the Gauls with the attributes of a rooster: stubbornness and brazenness. Joke’s on them, the French would run with it and since 1909 Fédération Française de Football would march out onto the field of play with the proud rooster emblazoned over their heart. From Zizou and Thuram to Pogba and Griezmann, Les Bleus unleash the rooster’s crow of French culture and sport in 90-minute intervals.


BRAZIL (Seleção)
The iconic yellow and green adorned with its five World Cup victory stars are as iconic a brand as any in sporting culture. Yet, because of how vibrant and decadent the crest is, the cross anchoring it all often hides in plain sight. A second look will begin to avail the similarities of the crest shape and cross to that of Portugal, as the cross in the middle is a nod to the Portuguese Templar Knights in the Order of Christ’s Cross who uncovered a large portion of South America for Europe. The crest as a whole serves as a reminder that while the language of the nation may be rooted in Europe, the flair and joy is something uniquely made up of Brazil.


ENGLAND (Three Lions)
Ahhh, the originators of heraldry. Masters of lore and Knighthood, the English FA and the three lions have receipts going back as far as anyone when it comes to the genesis of the crest in culture. While the Three Lions are a living homage to the different iterations of King Richard the 1st’s coat of arms, the 10 Tudor roses scattered symmetrically across the shield represent the 10 regional branches of the FA. On a stage crowded by large felines, the English may just have the most iconic rendition.


RUSSIA (Double-headed Eagle)
From our lovely tournament host comes some of the most brazenly gangster symbols in World Cup history. Taken straight from the Russian coat of arms. the two (well, three when counting the two heads of the eagles) are the double-headed eagle of Ivan III and a sigil of St. George trampling a dragon. With both Byzantine and Hittite origins (that one’s for you AP Euro nerds) the hosts showcase an equally rich tradition of heraldry as that of Western footballing nations. Their bold crest serves as a reminder that no two eagles are alike.

KTTP’S NIKE SHOOT: OFF WHITE IN CHICAGO | KIM JONES IN LA

Before we all inevitably move on from the still-relevant, design-orientated Nike soccer collabs with Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones, we wanted to present our own effort at showcasing the two well-crafted collections. We come to you with a two-part fashion editorial where we took both collections onto the streets of two different U.S. cities. For Virgil’s Off White pieces, we decided to hit the hometown of the designer himself, Chicago, for a shoot featuring yours truly (they twisted my arm until I agreed to model for this…) as I gallivant about Wicker Park/Bucktown in an attempt to score myself a much-deserved donut, all captured by Turfmapp founder and photographer Trisikh Sanguanbun.

Our Kim Jones shoot, taken by long-standing HYPEBEAST photographer Aaron Miller, takes place in our own city of Los Angeles, where we bring on ex-pro soccer athlete and personal trainer Shawna Gordon, who joins me on the roofs of DownTown LA chasing after that city-synonymous sunset. Both editorials utilize the soccer-focused pieces under a more casual style sensibility, showing how one can wear – or even pair – the pieces off the pitch. Check out both shoots below.


OFF WHITE X NKE IN CHICAGO | THE DONUT HUNT IN WICKER PARK


KIM JONES X NIKE IN LOS ANGELES | WE COULD NEVER REACH THE MOON ANYWAY

OG GRAFFITI LEGEND SABER TALKS ART AND SOCCER

Art and soccer go hand-in-hand – that’s obvious. We see the marriage displayed on our favorite soccer jerseys, we see it on posters, campaigns, and art projects from a novice fan to a recognized artist… there’s art even found in how the beautiful game is even played – many argue that soccer itself is a form of artistic dance. Does it lie in the beauty of art though? Or in the beauty of the game? Perhaps both! Either way, it’s a marriage we always enjoy, no matter the genre, so when we heard OG graffiti legend Saber was involved in adidas Football’s recent Energy Mode X18 event here in Los Angeles, we jumped at the chance to speak with the man to get his thoughts on the relationship between art and soccer, as well as how and why he’s particularly involved, where he would like to see the shared cultures going in the future, and much more.


So, to start, what’s your relationship with soccer?
The first thing I can say is that I played soccer when I was about five… I don’t know shit. I know nothing. World Cup? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? I don’t know what it is. Football… Futbol? Okay… I’ve always appreciated the sport, but then I get sucked into this gig and I’m like okay cool, let’s go! So then I start researching – I didn’t really know much about ‘street league,’ I don’t know about a Tango League – I didn’t know anything about this… But I start seeing videos, I start seeing what these kids are doing and the energy, the technical aspects of how talented these kids are, and I thought it was really cool, man. There’s a lot of energy behind it and I thought that was really moving. When I saw the momentum and saw the energy, I thought that was really cool. It seems like something that’s very positive. I like that it’s aggressive. I also like that it can get aggressive, that it’s pretty hardcore. It can get pretty intense. With street soccer and graffiti, we’re all kind part of being born out of concrete to a certain degree, and I think the competitive spirit might be similar. I don’t do graffiti much anymore – I’m too old and have kids and shit like that, but back in the day we were always are unstoppable.

That’s how people are describing soccer players now: as being “unstoppable.”
Yeah, I was unstoppable back then!. Nothing could stop me, nothing!

So back then, did you see any sort of marriage between the street art/graffiti world and soccer? Do you see it happening now?
Well honestly, for me those worlds didn’t even combine. They didn’t even exist together. So I think adidas, with their efforts and the Tango league and street soccer aspect, it’s nice to see adidas sponsoring these things and making these things happen. It’s only going to grow, and these kids are very competitive! So yeah, clearly they’re going to grow the sport and grow it into something bigger and maybe America will embrace “football” as opposed to [American] “football.” I don’t even watch it. I like violence, so I like watching jujitsu and people killing each other. Other than that, I don’t follow sports and I don’t have time… I’m too caught up with other stuff. But still, I think the energy is very similar and I think what translates that energy is when you have the fashion, you have the momentum of it. You have that action, and I think there are similarities between soccer and art with that.

You can look at other countries where it’s easier to see both cultures of street soccer and graffiti side-by-side – both born from the streets. I mean, you go to a place like Brazil and you’ll have a pickup game on the streets amidst a whole bunch of graffiti, some kids partaking in both. Is that something you’d like to see more of in America?
Absolutely. I would love to see that. That seems to be a more healthy environment. We were born out of the gang mentality. So we didn’t really want to open up to anybody, you know? We kept to ourselves. I think this could be a good bridge – a cultural bridge – between the two worlds and more: music, skateboarding, streetwear… anything really!

SOUTH KOREA FOR THE WIN: A SPECIAL STREET STYLE EDITION

Today marked a monumental win for South Korea within the world of soccer, as they beat Germany in today’s match for the World Cup 2018 with a two-nil win! Out here in Los Angeles, a city with the country’s largest Korean population, let me just say, the high energy, pride, and spirit felt throughout simply cannot be put into words. For those of you who are – or were – rooting for Germany, the Korea win comes as an immense blow given that the country is now out of the World Cup…

While we as a media outlet strive to stay as unbiased as we can, we can’t help but share in the joy our Korean brothers and sisters are feeling right now. In a bid to continue Korean pride, we’ve got a special Street Style fashion editorial that highlights Nike Soccer’s official Korea collection, modeled in Downtown Los Angeles by our very own writer Raymond An who is currently out there in Russia doing his own bit of Korea-support – if you haven’t heard about his #followtheflag initiative yet, click here to find out all about it. Donning South Korea’s official Nike 2018 away kit in white, as well as their travel top in black, the editorial also brings out a retro World Cup piece in blue complete with the Korean flag emblem, as well as an official Korea Football Association cap, all styled in street-ready looks. Check out the special South Korea street style editorial throughout.

THE IMPORTANCE OF NIKE’S SHORT FILM ‘THIS IS NAIJA’

“As an African kid, you don’t learn to play football on the synthetic turf or learn football with well-planned grass, you learn it the hard way… on the street corners.”

The night is alit — the roaring of trumpets, the banging of drums, the cheering of thousands, hopeful — as the Nigerian National Football team prepares for the biggest moments of their lives. For a country of 186 million, 60 percent of which is under the age of 20, this is a new Nigeria. One to which represents a new direction, a new spirit, channeled across a country of over 500 different tribes in what is known collectively as Naija.

In conjunction with Nike, Nigerian photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu captures this vibrant optimism in a new short-film titled, This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story. At the forefront is the new Nigeria home kit, a devilishly beautiful shirt highlighted with neon green accents and an iconic zig-zag pattern which shattered the kit record, by selling out three million units in mere minutes. However, this is a story that runs far deeper than a flashy kit; this is the tale of a country, who’s relatively recent independence, is now revealing its deeply rooted creative history. A history of song and dance, of food and culture, of mythology and folklore — all of which permeates with every pulsating kick of the ball.

“When I think of Naija swag — swag is edgy, edgy is rugged, it’s authentic. Its the way we dress, its the way we carry ourselves, its the way we speak. its the way we move,” says Nigerian musician Nneka. This movement is ever-present in the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and captain John Obi Mikel, but also in rising musical and creative talents such as photographer Yagazie Emezi, filmmaker Grace Ladoja and Wizkid, to name a few.

As the most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria oozes this creativity, as it ranks second worldwide in terms of films produced and one that has birthed musical giants such as Fela Kuti and the Afrobeat movement. Footballing wise, Nigeria continues to grace the world with maestros — from the legendary Nwankwo Kanu and Jay Jay Okocha of the Olympic Gold winning team of 1996 to Premier League stars Alexander Iwobi and Victor Moses.

“Hosting the World Cup in Nigeria would take Nigeria from where it is now amongst some of the poorest countries in the world, to where it can be, one of the most advanced civilizations in the world”, says Nigerian Football legend, Segun Odegbami. The resources are there, the talents is there, the passion and energy is there… it is now up to this new Naija to use football as a catalyst in spearheading both Nigeria and the continent of Africa in what could be a domino effect of infrastructural development for the years to come. Enjoy the full This is Naija: A Nigerian Football Story below.

OUR BEST CUSTOMIZED PLAYER BOOTS

Custom boot jobs are a wonderful expression of creativity and uniqueness from players and fans alike. I love seeing players take a silo and customize it into something that represents them, but which ones have done it the best? Let’s find out.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A striker full of flair, full of speed and full of star material. The BVB player turned the spotlight on him when plying his trade at Saint Ettiene, but not just for his footballing ability. When at the French club, he attracted a lot of attention when he took boot customization to a whole other level: a Nike Mercurial Vapor silo covered entirely in Swarovski crystals. The boot took over 50 hours to customize at the cost of £2500. Despite PEA wearing the boots in a pre-match warm-up, the boots were entirely cosmetic and for the aesthetic rather than performance which is why they were never actually worn in a game. Outrageous.

A Japanese delight. For all the Manga fans out there, this Bakary Sako collection is something you might like. A collection of multiple designs, all based around popular Manga shows. Dubbed the “MANGA Collection,” these are a thing of beauty. Designed by Orravan designs – who also designed the above pair – the collection is fully handpainted and the Dragon Ball Z edition was actually worn by the midfielder during a Premier League game.

Sticking with the Manga theme, Lukas Podolski joined in on the fun. Now competing in the J League with Vissel Kobe, the team who just signed Andres Iniesta, the German decided to embrace some Japanese culture. A custom job focusing on Captain Tsubasa, a famous Japanese cartoon show focused on football. He customed the Adidas X17 silo on the Manga show and this wasn’t the first time. He also sported Captain Tsubasa on a pair of adidas F50s.

These are three of my favorite custom jobs released with a few more just missing. I am all for the players wearing custom jobs on the pitch, especially when they’re as good as the ones mentioned. I urge these players to continue doing as they do but also call out for more to join in on the fun and start giving us all more custom jobs. We love them. Don’t we?