UPPER90 HOSTS RED BULL STREET STYLE

This past weekend, Upper90 hosted the USA Finals of the Red Bull Street Style tournament. The stakes were high. Whoever was skilled enough to win would go on to represent the USA at the World Finals in Poland. Contestants came to the Queens location of Upper90 in Astoria from all over the country, from California to just a few blocks away. Talk about competition.

Aside from the competition, we had a chance to check out the entirety of the location, equipped with an indoor pitch, two rooftop pitches, the store itself, and a cafe. Before the tournament began, there was a viewing party set up for the Russia vs. Croatia World Cup quarterfinal, while contestants were warming up for what might be the biggest competition of their lives.

There were fan experiences set up as well, including a custom T-shirt station and a Messi virtual experience station by adidas. One of the co-owners, Zach, welcomed us and showed us around while we chatted about his experiences as a former commodities trader and what led him to create Upper90. “The city had nothing like it before this,” he said, as we watched the 5-a-side games on the rooftop pitches. Creds to Zach and his colleagues for taking a risk in one of the world’s most unforgiving cities. The risk paid off as they now have multiple locations and enjoy success while providing for local communities.

The Red Bull Street Style tournament hosted by UPPER90 was a culmination of their mission: encouraging expression, while bringing together communities. We wish Upper90 continued success in the future, of which we have no doubt as long as they keep up what they’re doing. Be sure to visit any of their locations if you’re ever in New York City.

You can visit the Queens location of Upper90 in Astoria at 34-23 38th St, Long Island City, NY 11101.

OKAYAFRICA X NIKE SHOWCASE AFRICA TO THE WORLD

We are weeks into the tournament and somehow we are still talking about Nigeria’s World Cup Collection. No need to roll your eyes though as this is not another discussion on style and fashion. Instead, we’re here to highlight the greater significance of Nike’s project through the newfound interest and awareness it has generated for a nation and continent that stems well beyond the world of soccer.

It was only right for Nike to link up with OkayAfrica, a news and media platform that celebrates all facets of African culture for a North American audience. A few weeks ago, the two threw a Nigeria pre-World Cup watch party in Brooklyn as an opportunity to leverage the hype around this collection with all the work that OkayAfrica has done and continues to do.
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The whole project is enlightening to anyone. For me specifically, who has grown so used to hearing and seeing all the negative and unfortunate things about Africa, it is refreshing to finally be exposed to a new image that celebrates the vibrancy of a culture in spite of all this adversity. I am thankful that soccer now serves as a conduit to Africa’s art, music, food, and culture, however, I realize that the beauty of this continent was always there for me if I had only looked for it.

OkayAfrica remains committed to this work, and we were lucky to have spent time with them where they spoke at length on how the World Cup has reinvigorated this effort to showcase Africa not just to a diaspora community, but to the world. Read our full interview with OkayAfrica’s Director of Events/Activations Sinat Giwa, with Editor-in-Chief Rachel Hislop chiming in below.


Can you tell us about how you/OkayAfrica and Nike connected for the project?
We’d been planning events for World Cup 2018 for a while now, knowing that it was a key moment for our community of Africans globally. Once we knew the five African countries that would be making it to the World Cup – Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Tunisia – we began to plan around ways to reach the parts of our community that represent each country respectively. Nike approached us about activating around the Nigeria team kits because of our strong connection to the Nigerian Diaspora community, especially in New York. We knew that this event would not only be a pivotal moment for our core sports audience globally but that this collaboration would underscore how big of a moment these kits would be for Nigerian culture.

Why did Nike’s Naija campaign resonate with you specifically and why is it important to OkayAfrica?
The campaign resonated because of its focus on the culture of soccer and how that extends outside of the game. The campaign was about our culture (a portion of our team that worked on the project is Nigerian). The game is central, but the players, the community rallying, the music, the art, and the fashion surrounding the games have always been just as exciting for OkayAfrica to highlight. It’s what we do.

Can you give us a brief on the creative concept behind the event – bringing in the IG photographers, including music in the mix, etc?
We had the idea to bring a Nigerian party 3.0 to life with a series of wonderful partnerships with dope creatives, movers, and shakers in our community. This was an opportunity to once again leverage our incredible relationships to underscore a pivotal moment. We wanted to create a proper Naija shindig with food, roaming photography and of course JAMS, as music is the framework on which OkayAfrica was built. As for musical talent, Moniki came through with the Afro-Brazilian vibes to remind us that Africans are worldwide and of the connections between Brazil and Nigeria. Moma is one of the best to ever do it, so we had to have him there, and Tunez is the top Nigerian DJ Worldwide – no question. Getting Burna Boy in the mix was incepted way back when we heard his latest project “Outside,” so when the opportunity to add him as a surprise performer came, we knew this was the perfect moment. Having Izzy Odigie solo dancing on the stage, the guys with fresh “Naija” and OkayAfrica logo haircuts as a nod to being in Brooklyn, it all came together wonderfully. Overall we kept it simple with a couple of great photo moments, good vibes, food, and really great music. If you’ve ever been to an OkayAfrica party you know it’s always just a moment to have our people gather and have fun.

The visuals captured are also a major part to the event. How did you fall upon the three photographers chosen to capture the spirit of Naija Worldwide Bash?
We work with Travis Matthews fairly often, since he shot our Fall 2017 campaign for Okayplayer clothing. He’s so talented and amazing at shooting on the fly. His event photography highlights that skill. I’ve been following Bukunmi Grace for a while now and knew she needed to be a part of capturing this event when we first started ideating, and Shako Oteka is the man! He came up from North Carolina on the fly, shot on his own accord and shared these amazing images with me and the team after. I had to include them. It was really special to get these varying perspectives of the event.

What do events like the Naija Worldwide Bash mean to American culture?
It means we (Africans) are here – and we’ve been here! So much so that the spirit of our content and when we gather resonates heavily with the diaspora and those who are searching for ways to connect more intimately with African culture.

What about on a global standpoint?
Same thing. Africa to the World! Our goal as a brand and an editorial platform is to connect people globally to the greatness and diversity of the culture that is cultivated on the continent, and this event was an extension of that work.

What are your comments on the turnout and how the event went?
It was a special one. To look out on the crowd and see not only people from all parts of the continent and the diaspora, but also attendees who may have been discovering our brand for the first time via Nike was really a warming feeling. For those who have been to an OkayAfrica party before, this was a culmination of all of the things we like to provide, good food, vibes, and music. And for those that were experiencing this for the first time, it was the perfect introduction to how we celebrate.

What’s the future for OkayAfrica and soccer?
Rachel: On the website for the World Cup, we’ve tapped several experts in the field to focus on the African countries in the competition—Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

We’ll have articles spanning everything from in-depth looks at the African teams in the competition, profiles on rising stars like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah to the afrobeat music being played in locker rooms before the games, and well pieces about how players are standing up to racism from fans.


We thank OkayAfrica for the opportunity they have provided to us to showcase their own work. We are confident their efforts will keep more eyes on Africa well beyond this summer.


IMAGES BY TRAVIS MATTHEWS


IMAGES BY BUKUNMI GRACE


IMAGES BY SHAKO OTEKA

BOWERY FC’S WORLD CUP CLUBHOUSE AND EXHIBIT

Bowery Football Club is keeping it classic this World Cup. The Manhattan-based group is hosting a pop-up exhibition in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the duration of the tournament, where you can feast your eyes on beautiful classic kits and watch any of the games on a massive projector screen. Club members Quinn and Carlos were happy to host us for the Switzerland-Serbia game and show us around the former firehouse that they rented out for the four weeks, which comes with a fully stocked bar and a patio out back.

 

Bowery FC teamed up with their partners Lagunitas Ale and Manchester-based Classic Football Shirts, who so graciously supplied the beer and kits, to bring this football idea to fruition. The attention to detail could not be ignored, as the jerseys were arranged by group order for this year’s edition of the World Cup.

Also on display are some of Bowery’s own apparel, my favorites being their Umbro kits and OnlyNY collabs. I have to say, there’s a unique flavor to BFC’s designs; one can tell just by looking at their custom stickers which ooze New York.

One can only feel right at home at the clubhouse thanks to the hospitality of the club members. I even managed to meet a DJ from London who lives in Dubai but was in town for the weekend, which just goes to show how the World Cup and soccer bring the world together, no matter your country of origin or if their team is in the tournament. Shout out again to Quinn and Carlos for having us, and keep up the good work. Bowery Football Club is a true representative of what New York can bring to the playing field.

You can follow Bowery FC on Instagram and Twitter. Their clubhouse exhibit is open for the duration of the World Cup at 411 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.

RICH THE KID, SABER & MORE AT ADIDAS’ X18+ WC EVENT IN LA

While the world is aware that brands like to put in money and effort into their campaign events, it’s safe to say that as of late adidas has risen the bar, especially with what they’ve done out here in Los Angeles – their 747 event for basketball back in February being a prime example. Last week the sportswear giant went at it again for its soccer division to celebrate its latest innovation for the sport, coinciding of course with the 2018 World Cup. If you’ve been following us – and any other soccer-orientated platform for that matter – you’ll already be well aware of adidas Soccer’s X18+ silhouette, a slim and sleek, laceless offering that focuses on the power of speed. It’s been dubbed “the fastest and lightest laceless boot available.”

Highlighting its release, the X18+ Energy Mode event brought in crowds to experience a live customization of adidas soccer kits, enjoy the open bars and food courtesy of Sweet Chick, and to witness a live Tango League with an MVP to be chosen to win a trip to Russia to compete in the global Tango League final. Rolling up to the event, which took place at adidas’ The Base location in Los Angeles – yup, the same as where we hold our The Association game nights – we were set loose to enjoy all the aforementioned happenings and then some.

While soccer was very much the main focus of the day, adidas managed to mix in music and art with the beautiful game by inviting OG Graffiti legend Saber, who conducted a live art installment that saw him spray painting over a wall of soccer balls, each being handed out to the public along with a Saber signature. The main event, however, was when adidas brought out Queens-native Rich the Kid who got the crowd into a frenzy. To cap the night off, a squad of motorbike riders tore up the cement outside – from wheelies to donuts – all in a bid to create some near-deafening noise to celebrate the Tango League MVP winner: Melvyn Owen Perez Cortez – congrats, kid!

While we managed to enjoy ourselves at the event, if there’s a work opportunity, you know we’ll take it, so we asked adidas if they could sit us down with its soccer division’s merchandising manager Joseph Sleven to talk all things X18+, as well as his thoughts on the current landscape of soccer culture. Check out the interview below, as well as our official visual recap of the event throughout.


To start, can you summarize adidas’ new X18 Energy Mode pack for those that are still unfamiliar with the innovation?
Put it frankly, the thought process behind the design of the shoe was to build something for the fastest player possible, down to the look, down to the field, down to the weight. Everything about it is supposed to enable our most explosive – our fastest players – to perform at their top level.

So there’s obviously a lot of aspects when it comes to playing soccer in terms of product design. Why focus on speed for this release?
When we create the range, and when we look at our footwear, there’s any number of players that take part or participate in the game. So for us, the predator is that person who controls the game, they dictate the tempo, their touch, their field or class… everything they do can kind of permeate throughout the team. X players are extremely explosive with getting to the end of the pitch and putting the ball in the back of the net. Nemesis is for those agility players who are really unpredictable – they don’t really fit into a box. Maybe they’re floating around the field but they have these moments of magic that you can’t recreate. And then the Copa is the boot. It’s the soccer player… It’s almost your favorite player’s favorite boot. So everything within that portfolio speaks to different players of the game recognizing that no two players are the same.

Can you speak about the thoughts behind the X18+’s colorway and the overall aesthetics of the shoe?
Well, first and foremost it needed to look fast and speak specifically to that speed player. So you look at its sleek minimalistic design and all these elements which are kind of pulling back and giving it that almost movement visual – even when it’s stagnant it looks like it’s moving. That’s what we want for the speed silo. When we talk about the flash you have these iridescent parts at the branding, as well as on the sole of the shoe. When we talk about colorway, again when you’re on the field you want it to pop. You want something that really jumps out. So this blue is really shocking, it kind of jumps out at you and it really speaks to this silo because it’s like nothing else within the footwear family right now. When we talk about being fashion-forward, with bringing it on to the street or into the cage, the fact that it’s laceless for us is our top technology. We wanted that to be something that also lent itself to being worn with shorts or as you can see in the cage. It doesn’t just necessarily have performance tooling only. There’s a lot of, I would say, fashionable detailing in there, whether it be raises where there would be lasing, or for that speed look, we’ve given it that see-through aesthetic on the upper, or even the flash on the bottom. So a lot of things come from just thinking through the 365 of what our players’ day looks like.

Moving on from the X18+, with you coming from adidas, how aware are you with the way that soccer is going on a cultural standpoint, or what it looks like when it comes to say fashion, music, or art? Is that something that adidas is very much up to date with?
Absolutely. I think that’s really what they look at when they’re putting everything together. So even beyond cleats, take for instance jerseys, we look at that and recognize that these aren’t just specific to playing on the pitch. We’re looking at the hem line, looking at shoulder drop lines, the technology, and those tech details, or even call outs for that country specifically, those are things that we feel lives on the pitch as well as off the pitch. So it’s recognizing that again, soccer is 365 for people who live, breathe, eat, and sleep the sport. And beyond that, when you look at what we’re offering, it’s not just cleats, it’s not just performance jerseys. We have seasonal specialty product that is bespoke to Argentina or Mexico, but it’s really for the street specifically. Maybe not for an avid consumer, but somebody who recognizes that they are a casual fan of this club and that they can wear that shirt, they can wear the pants or the woven shorts, creating a whole offering across every federation, across every club that allows you to rep no matter the circumstances – after, before, or during a game. We’re looking at product holistically now through that lens of the entire year and day.

Last question: speaking of repping, with the World Cup underway, do you have a country that you’re rooting for?
For me specifically, I mean I would love to see Messi get one, right! But honestly, as a fan of the sport, I just want good games. I want to see just incredible moments, the ones that give you chills and that keep you wanting more, and I think when you put the best countries in the world together, you’re going to get those moments inevitably. So I’m just really looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Images by Ben Higginbotham.

RECAPPING NIKE CHICAGO’S OFF-WHITE ‘MON AMOUR’ EVENT

This past weekend Nike Football and its Chicago office flew us out to The Windy City to experience the official launch of Nike and Off-White’s much coveted ‘Mon Amour’ soccer-inspired collection. If you’re anything like us – which we’re assuming so hence being on this site – you’re already aware of Nike’s fashion-focused, soccer-inspired efforts with two much talked about designers: Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones. While both are connected by way of being fashion designers, as well as the fact that Abloh took over Jones’ Artistic Director position at Louis Vuitton, their respective collection with Nike couldn’t be any more different.

Jones’ “FOOTBALL REIMAGINED” collection takes on a more avant-garde, all-black aesthetic, whereas Abloh’s Off-White effort pulls design language directly from traditional soccer – or rather football – cues. But we’re not here to talk about the story behind both collections again as we’ve done that here, and a closer look at Jones’ collection is soon to come, so today is all about what we experienced while out in Abloh’s home city of Chicago for the ‘Mon Amour’ activation.

To begin, this was my first time in Chicago, and to avoid boring you with a Dear Diary entry on my personal thoughts and comments, I’ll leave you with I fast fell in love with the city. If you’ve been, I’m assuming you have similar sentiments. If not, I’m sure you’ve heard all about how great it is. The food, the people, the convenience… And no this isn’t sponsored by Chi-Town’s tourism board, it just honestly had a great weekend there! Having landed late on Friday night, it was pretty much a hotel room workstation set up for me save for a cheeky whiskey at a local sports bar down the road. Saturday was the main event day, so come the morning, I linked up with our lead photographer Trisikh from Turfmapp, his team and fellow soccer media man Cooper from Eight by Eight magazine.

We headed out to Douglas Park where Nike Chicago had set up a custom soccer field aptly entitled “HOME FIELD,” which took on the design elements we’ve been seeing from the Off-White x Nike soccer campaign. When we got there, the pitch was already scattered with a mix of Chicago’s local influencers, soccer fans, Nike reps and other well-styled individuals that are connected to the scene in some way or another. I had decided to put on the ‘Mon Amour’ long-sleeve jersey that was waiting in my hotel room upon arrival courtesy of Nike, which unintentionally landed me as the impromptu model for the collection for other media outlets.

Slowly but surely, the other guests started getting kitted out in their own ‘Mon Amour’ gear, putting me much more at ease – behind the camera is more my scene. After getting settled amidst tunes from KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Ye’s ye, and Pusha’s DAYTONA among others spun by DJ’s Vic Lloyd and Kid Clay, we were brought over to the Nike jersey custom station in collaboration with THE BRILLIANCE!. This involved picking out your own heat transfer prints, all custom designed specifically for the event, in a bid to come up with your own interpretation of a ‘Mon Amour’ jersey. After the workshop, guests started gathering in pre-determined teams for a 4v4 tournament, with Trisikh – a much better soccer player than myself – jumping in on behalf of KTTP.

The tournament was rapid fire, with a flurry of back and forths from the mix of players (and skills), but all in all, it was a good excuse to flaunt the ‘Mon Amour’ pieces like they were intended: on the pitch. After the tournament, we enjoyed a little bit of downtime before the “HOME FIELD” became open to the public, which naturally attracted a swarm of Nike fans, soccer heads, and honestly anyone at the park with or without a ball to come and kick around on the pristine pitch. All in all, the event was a great way to bring the Off-White x Nike ‘Mon Amour’ collection to life, all within the place that started it all for Abloh’s enthusiasm towards the beautiful game. Have a look at our exclusive visual recap of the event this past weekend, taken by Trisikh and team, then be sure to check back in for our very own on-the-street lookbook editorial featuring pieces from the colleciton.

PHILLY’S UNION GIVES TWO MARINES FREE INK DURING A MATCH

A little over a year ago the Philadelphia Union announced a unique initiative which saw them enlist Aston PA’s Bonedaddy’s Tattoo as the club’s official tattoo shop. It was an unprecedented, fresh and all around a cool move by the Union.

Fast forward to last weekend where the club added to their brilliant initiative by thanking some of their local military members with some fresh and free ink. Two active duty military members were nominated by fans then selected by the Union to receive the tattoos. The Marines selected received their complimentary tattoos in a stadium suite while they watched the Union smash Real Salt Lake 4-1. As you can see from the pictures below, the experience enlisted Bonedaddy’s Tattoo to completely transform the space into a proper tattoo parlor which really added a genuine aesthetic to a beautiful experience.

RECAP: POGBA SEASON III CAPSULE COLLECTION EVENT

A few days ago we saw the official unveiling of midfielder Paul Pogba’s latest limited edition capsule collection with adidas Football in the hear of his home country of France. The Parisian born player has put together an incredibly clean looking release dubbed “adidas Football x Pogba Season III Capsule Collection,” which consists of a range of apparel, a Paul Pogba take on the aidas Predator 18+, and accessories all made for being on and off the pitch. The design approach behind the collection stems from Paul Pogba’s own personality in and out of the field, hence the street-ready looks that we can confidently say we’d like to rock ourselves.

To celebrate the release, the man himself held an event in Paris, amidst the Eiffel Tower, that brought together the City of Light’s youth, Pogba fans and soccer enthusiasts from all over. Guests were able to partake in soccer games played on adidas Football’s digital field complete with LED screens, as well as a workshop that allowed you to create your own tabletop design. The most creatively designed field won the opportunity of playing on the aforementioned digital field with the entire French International team – not bad! Vibes was provided courtesy of comedian, impersonator, DJ, and radio host WILLAXXX who kept the energy going throughout the day.

Check out the photo recap by Dcontract of what went down during the adidas Football x Pogba Season III Capsule Collection release party throughout, then check out the limited edition collection for yourself over at adidas Football France before they run out!

Photos by Dcontract©

WHAT WENT DOWN AT THE ASSOCIATION DRAFT PARTY

This past Wednesday night saw the official drafting of The Association, our soccer league in partnership with adidas, that brings together teams led by a roster of our favorite brands and influencers, all of which duke it out on the pitch for fame and glory, and a dope AF trophy designed by the Los Angeles mural legend OG Slick.

We hosted the drafting party at The Association bar – naturally – in downtown LA, with free-flowing booze, street tacos, music spun by DJ Episode, and good banter all around. In addition to the brand reps from all participating teams and the to-be-drafted influencers, the turn out for the event exceeded our expectations, with Kicks to the Pitch‘s friends and family all under one roof getting steadily drunk.

Once everyone was in and loose, the drafting commenced, with each brand all taking turns picking two influencers to join their team. The order was randomly picked with the help of a comically small Bingo-styled ball cage, with the first round of picks to be followed by a second round in the opposite order. There were eight teams in total, with a total pool of 16 influencers that included ex-pro soccer, Olympic medalists, players, models, photographers, TV hosts, Radio networks and fitness gurus.

After an excited two rounds of picks, we’ve landed with the following teams:


FourTwoFour On Fairfax‘s “Golden State”
Jared Martinez, photographer
Umar Issa, photographer & podcast host

Complex‘s “Marauders”
Chris Baris, ex-pro soccer player, model & actor
Denise Jones, on-air personality & co-founder of All Def Music, TYT Sports

Dash Radio‘s “Real Radio FC”
– Dominic Chambrone aka The Shoe Surgeon, custom sneaker creator & designer
Jacques Slade, host & video creator

Red Bull‘s “Red Bull Los Angeles”
Geoff Gouveia, visual artist
Karen Civil, author, philanthropist, brand curator & runs “Tru Women”

Beats by Dre‘s “The Defiant Ones FC”
Hope Watson, actor & model
Simonez Wolf, stylist

SpaceX‘s “Dragon FC”
Lauren Sesselmann, ex-pro soccer player, Olympic Bronze Medalist, Pan Am Gold Medalist & World Cup athlete
John Pangilinan, photographer & co-founder of OG Moto Show

Niky’s Sport‘s “Niky’s FC”
Shawna Gordon, ex-pro soccer player turned skills trainer and developer
Silas Lee, photographer and Team Cozy co-founder

Jason Markk‘s “Markkers FC”
Tamra Dae, personal fitness expert, model and entrepreneur
Terry Guy, creator/founder of Monorex, Star Los Angeles & Secret Walls


Check out our official photo recap taken by The Association’s official photographer Willie Toledo throughout, then be sure to check back in for more upcoming news on The Association!