The soccer jersey from the collaboration between Y-3 and Real Madrid. Photo: Adidas Y-3

Fashion has always formed partnerships that are as original as they are prestigious.

The art world, of course, but also the food and automotive industries, and the movies, are some of fashion’s favorite fields. But today, the sector is venturing into a world where no one expected to see it: soccer.

This new obsession is leading to some surprising collections, all of which appeal to an ever wider audience.

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If fashion has long inspired the world of soccer, it seemed unlikely a few years ago that the opposite would happen. And yet, today’s top fashion designers seem to be totally enthralled by the beautiful game.

They are no longer satisfied with making soccer players into star ambassadors, nor are they content to provide the most prestigious teams in the world with luxury suits. No, they now also want to enjoy their moment of glory, amid supporters’ chants, by putting their clothes on the pitch.

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An inevitable relationship?

At first glance, the luxury sector and soccer are two very different, and equally distant, worlds. On the one hand, the glitz and glamour of the great fashion capitals, on the other, a mainstream sport of the people.

But, over time, the links between these two worlds have become numerous, if only because the luxury sector has been appropriating the codes of the street for several years now, and soccer stars are among the most popular personalities on social networks.

Just look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have nearly 750 million followers on Instagram — more than Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner combined.

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Soccer jerseys get chic

That was enough for the biggest fashion houses to start signing up the services of these star soccer players, who draw the crowds to each of their matches. The recent partnership between Dior and Kylian Mbappé is a good example of this.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker now lends his image to Dior Homme creations, as well as to the brand’s Sauvage fragrance. It’s a great way for the French fashion house to get itself in the spotlight.

But now, the fashion industry is starting to take over the pitch, by designing jerseys and kits for the world’s most popular teams.

Helmed by designer Christelle Kocher, the Koché label is one of the first to have embraced its passion for the game. As early as 2017, the brand announced a partnership with the Paris Saint-Germain soccer club, and sent jerseys down the Fashion Week catwalk. Incredible, but true.

And the label didn’t stop there, as it has just unveiled a brand-new collection with the Italian soccer club AC Milan and the Puma brand, themed on upcycling. Here, the idea is to transform the Rossoneri’s unsold jerseys into couture creations.

In 2020, it was the Balenciaga brand that burst into the world of soccer, albeit in its own special way. Indeed, there was no partnership for the luxury house, but a collection of jerseys with logos for team Balenciaga – a fictitious club that inevitably gained plenty of stylish supporters.

These various incursions have continued to multiply in recent years, to the point of now seeing partnerships that would probably never have seen the light of day in the past.

To celebrate the 120th anniversary of Real Madrid and the 20th anniversary of Y-3 – the fruit of the collaboration between designer Yohji Yamamoto and adidas – a commemorative collection has been created.

This features several pieces, including jerseys, warm-up tops, and pants, completely reinvented with the avant-garde aesthetic of the Japanese designer, and the ‘Y-3’ logo replacing that of the three-stripe brand.

While this is not the first collaboration with the famous Madrid soccer club, this collection has a more fashionable than ever slant, and is supported by an exceptional campaign featuring some of the club’s icons, starting with Karim Benzema.

A few days later, Stella McCartney stepped onto the pitch, again in partnership with adidas. But this time it was to present a women’s collection specially designed for the players of the Arsenal team.

A hoodie, leggings, a pre-match shirt, and a pair of adidas by Stella McCartney Ultraboost 22 shoes make up this Arsenal Women’s collection, which will be presented on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium on March 26, before being released in stores two days later.

If one thing is for sure, it’s that the most cutting-edge designers have begun to step into the world of soccer. And it’s a trend that should grow in the coming months with the approach of the World Cup, scheduled to be held in Qatar in November.

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