Fashion is crucial in the world of sports, especially in the world of soccer, not only in differentiating between teams and bringing in revenue for sports’ brands, but also as a way of creative expression for players and teams. Football’s fashion moment has taken center stage for the last few years. The sport’s dedicated fanbase is encouraged to care about appearance and presentation–from the manner of their favorite team’s playing style to the haircuts and cleat colors of the world’s best players. As a result, major sports brands as well as fashion designers and artists have seized the opportunity to produce pieces or works that capitalize on the football fervor. As someone who has always loved fashion and believed it was important to look “put together” and fashionable even when playing a sport, I was immediately drawn to the SoccerBible blog, which focuses solely on soccer apparel and how soccer players interact with athletic clothing and accessories. Unlike most blogs that report people’s opinions, feed into gossip, make predictions on soccer matches, or provide accounts or highlights of past games, SoccerBible concentrates on the intersection between style, fashion, and athletics. By focusing on topics often overlooked in the soccer world, their detailed-oriented articles, thorough reviews, and various photos on the blog and on other forms of social media, SoccerBible enables devoted fans to dive deeper into their passion points and obsessions by bringing the products that players use‒such as cleats, shoes, and jerseys–to life.
SoccerBible is easy to navigate, very organized, and aesthetically pleasing with its large, high-resolution pictures that immediately draw viewers to the site. SoccerBible is divided into four main sections: Performance, Lifestyle, Design, and Boot Spotting, which can be seen not only by clicking on the three lines at the top left corner of the page, but also throughout the homepage.The homepage homepage incorporates articles from all over the site; however, right below the heading, there is usually one main image from an article that horizontally spans the page. Below the main article, there are two boxes or “articles” and then under the two boxes, the rest of the homepage has the articles broken down into four separate squares. Despite, the universality of soccer, through the title SoccerBible and the use of “football,” the international term for what Americans call soccer, for various subheadings throughout the blog, the creators and writers are conscious in including both terms for the sport in attempt to appeal to a global audience.
The Performance section of the site focuses on Football Boots (soccer cleats) and Football Apparel. The Football Boots section includes articles that discuss the launches of new soccer cleats for brands like Adidas, Nike, Under Armor, and Puma and the design and inspiration for these shoes. Most of SoccerBible’s Performance articles seem to adopt an objective tone when describing the history of a new edition for a boot or a certain piece of clothing; nevertheless, the writers are still trying to build hype around the products by showing them in action on star players such as Neymar or Messi, as well as including any important disclaimers such as limited edition shoes or restricted numbers of shoes being sold on by the brand.
Along with providing viewers with apparel and footwear news updates, SoccerBible also provides reviews of new soccer boots, which can help their audience decide if they want to splurge on the newest toy to the soccer market. For example in “Laced Up: Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 Review,” the author gives a brief history of the shoe, touching on the previous success of the shoe, if there is one, and the reason the brand has decided to launch the shoe. Then the article is broken down into sections, beginning with “Out of the Box,” which covers the writer’s initial opinions of the shoe such as “Packing futuristic fast vibes all over [the Nike Mercurial Superfly 360], the silhouette features sportscar-esque curves and feels streamlined AF” and concluding with SoccerBible’s final verdict that states that the Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 is the most complete speed boot to date and how “every tech advancement works together to ensure the perfect concoction of lightweight, durability, locked in fit and comfort.” These review articles are for soccer players that might want to try out a new shoe and want receive a first hand opinion on the shoe before buying it. Furthermore, these article are accompanied with high quality and aesthetically pleasing photographs that underscore the cool, interesting, and detailed aspects of both the shoes and apparel that make the viewer, obsessed with soccer or not, want to buy the shoe or clothing. Additionally, the Football Boots section has articles that note which players, specifically A-list players, and clubs will be wearing signature boots, which is when a leading soccer play is awarded with an exclusive design from a certain brand. These signature boots (cleats) often reflect the players’ personality and playing style on and off the pitch. For example, the CR7, which is Nike’s signature boot for Cristiano Ronaldo, was inspired by the plethora of goals Ronaldo has scored and his world record 80-million-pound transfer to Real Madrid. SoccerBible notes that the design of the CR7 features a “diamond-inspired graphic on a white base that sparkles under the lights” and the upper part of the boot “includes multi-colour knit details mimicking the multitude of colors diamonds refract.” Furthermore, the CR7 logo is a textured representation of a diamond graphic and the heel is accompanied by the date of Ronaldo’s Madrid debut. The Cristiano Ronaldo x Nike signature boot’s design has an aura of premium desirability, highlighted by the integration of a diamond’s elements, and Ronaldo’s arrogant-styled confidence that adds to his overall aesthetic as a player. Similar to Football Boots, Football Apparel discusses the launch of the main soccer brands’ shirts as well as specific teams’ home and away game day for the 2018 World Cup.
The Lifestyle section of SoccerBible shows soccer beyond the pitch, by highlighting how the sport is integrated into society through fashion, specifically sneakers and clothing. This section of SoccerBible differs from Performance because the sneakers and clothing aren’t apparel that soccer players would wear on the field. The shoes in the lifestyle section are also from the main soccer brands but could be worn both at the gym or with everyday clothing. Nevertheless, these shoes still have a relationship with soccer, as adidas launched The COPA 18+ TR Premium Limited Collection, which incorporates designs of the football boot such as a double-stitch lines and a signature quilted toe look. Similarly, the clothing featured in the Lifestyle section is inspired by football-inspired trends, creating collaborations with brands such as Nike, adidas, Umbro, and PUMA to merge football and lifestyle through statement pieces including sweatshirts, jackets, track bottoms, and shirts. The aim of the Lifestyle component shows that soccer can go beyond the classic team uniforms and soccer boots to which the sport is associated with. As a result, it highlights that these major sporting brands can create apparel other than clothes you play in and sweat it. SoccerBible seems to be articulating to people that soccer shouldn’t just be relegated to the field, stadium, or channel on television and it isn’t just a sport you play, it’s a sport you can live out in your daily life through your clothing choices.
SoccerBible’s Design heading covers the intersection between art and soccer through works of photography, illustrations, books and magazines. Through photography, many of the Design articles highlight the intense passion of fans, the pandamonium within the stadium, and the relationships of teammates on the pitch warming up, having a laugh, or celebrating a goal or win. These images serve to elevate fandom by depicting soccer as an art form. Through these zoomed in, large-scale photographs and illustrations, the Design section aestheticizes the world of soccer, making the viewer want to be a part of the scene. One Design article, for instance, talks about certain soccer books and magazines such as the “Club 99 Project,” which is a book project spearheaded by designer Scott McRoy that includes a “collection of the greatest players to have ever-graced Pro-Evo and get a ‘99’ rating.” There are only 99 books printed, and the book brings together elite designers and illustrators who have created player portraits that span countless pages. By citing that various designers and artists created bespoke player portraits and that there are only 99 books in the world, it creates this fanaticism because dedicated fans want to be the ones who can say they own one of these limited edition books.
The art and illustration articles encompass magazines, apparel, apparel and sports advertisements. One of SoccerBible’s most recent art and illustration articles discusses design leading up to the World Cup. With the 2018 FIFA World Cup approaching, the tournament, which happens every four years, not only serves up a spectacle it is also a chance for artistic, imaginative, and innovative ideas. For example, designer Jyo John Mulloor has combined this expressive energy and the anticipation of the 2018 installment by using the official 2018 Telstar match ball by Adidas and manipulating the concept into a bike helmet. SoccerBible notes this interface between fashion and football stating that the “idea blends three versions of the 2018 Telstar match ball and applies it to a different scene.” Mullor explains his creation to SoccerBible saying, “The biggest event of 2018 comes back to inspire and I am no exception! If soccer is going to be on everyone’s mind might as well be literally so. This is a fan-art based concept that transforms the FIFA football with its three official colors intriguing ‘head’ ball. My idea and its execution are mere conceptualisation…” Jyo’s design shows what can be done with a “conventional” match ball when you think outside the box, it is a fanatical take on the game, and provides people who love soccer to take a little piece of the game with them and, if they are a motorcyclist or need to use a helmet, it becomes a way to interact with soccer every day.
Lastly, the “Boot Spotting” category is a weekly article that compiles multiple images of players in action wearing specific boots and zoomed-in photos of the player’s shoes. The writers of SoccerBible identify the player, the game in which he/she was wearing the cleat, and if the player personalized it in any way. For example, accompanied with the photos of Alfie Mawson’s, Swansea’s centre-back, shoes, which were the Adidas X 17.1, SoccerBible states that Mawson “has created his own laceless version of the adidas X boot by simply removing the laces.” The writer’s note that this choice could be because of the one-piece construction of many soccer boots right now means that players can easily slip them on, but the ones that remove the laces are usually the players with wider feet. “Boot Spotting” allows viewers to see which players are wearing what brands allowing fans to model themselves after their favorite players. As a result, under all these pictures of boot sightings, there is also a “Shop Now” link, making it so much more convenient for the viewer if he or she wants to buy the exact boot the player is wearing in the photo.
SoccerBible’s success is not only attributable to their ability to differentiate themselves from other soccer blogs by covering fashion, design, and lifestyle, but also through their use of social media outlets. Through Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, SoccerBible is able to directly promote their articles as well as post pictures of new soccer boots, apparel, accessories, photographs, and illustrations. SoccerBible provides dedicated soccer fans and athletes with all the latest updates on new soccer apparel, such as their popular “Boot Spotting” article and the designs of each country’s jersey for the 2018 World Cup. Furthermore, SoccerBible provides information on what player is wearing which brand well, as well as soccer’s relationship pop culture through art and photography. By capitalizing on fashion, lifestyle, and design, topics often overlooked in soccer, SoccerBible has not only become the “go-to resource for the people that matter in an ever-evolving game” but also creates the feeling that people are not simplay buying athletic clothing, they are buying into a lifestyle, and taking part in an aesthetic experience.