Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. FIFA says there are more than 5 billion fans worldwide, an astonishing estimate that dwarfs even American football. If true, this number would mean there are more soccer fans on this planet than non-soccer fans. (5 billion vs 2.9 billion, respectively.)
It's hard to understate the sport's reach. At this point, unlike baseball, it's absolutely permanent. It's more influential, too; soccer's stars are otherworldly influences, capable of changing an entire generation's fashion sense overnight. And while, sure, the outfits players wear off the pitch get most of the attention, soccer jerseys are a popular source of inspiration for fashion designers. They appear, season after season, remixed and reimagined, covered with brand motifs and artful patterns.
These designer renditions are rarely subtle, though. They take the jerseys as is, with logos here and there and plenty of space for advertisers, and replace instead of removing them. Fustol, on the other hand, a new brand by Nicolas Willson, a former content executive, and Luke Scheybeler, co-founder of premium cycling brand Rapha and Ivy-inspired running brand Tracksmith, simplifies the style. Through their lens, the soccer jersey is more refined, arguably even elegant.
For the most part, though, they stay true to the aesthetic. Futsol's jerseys are made in Portugal from 180gsm piqué fabric woven from recycled plastic bottles sourced just hours away in Spain. Each of the embroidered appliqué logos, called Futsol Crests, are handmade in the UK. That means the jerseys do not represent teams, per se, but rather classical European culture, Willson says.
Collection 01 is limited to 400 jerseys total — 100 of each of the four designs. There's Aceituna Blanca, a white pinstripe shirt with an olive branch crest; Paloma Roja, a striped, pink shirt adorned with a dove; Naranja Verde, a green shirt an orange embroidered onto it; and Sol Azul, the closest one to a traditional soccer jersey, with its crest acting as an advertisement for the brand itself.
This may sound contrarian, but what's best about Futsol's jerseys is that they wear like normal T-shirts. Some jerseys have uncomfortably slim torsos, or tight arm holes, maybe even a deep V-neck. None of these are present on Futsol's pieces, which still feel like soccer jerseys, but prove easier to wear on more occasions.
"Vintage jerseys have exploded in popularity and obscure kits from far flung teams. I loved the idea of making the football jersey a premium item and a wardrobe staple — just like the baseball cap, polo shirt 0r tennis shoe," Willson says. "Something that can be worn to play football but also to the bar, on holiday at the beach, tucked into some linen pants in the evening, even with a blazer on top... We see the football jersey as a canvas for expression, for collaboration and artistic creation."
The jerseys run true to size, but sizes XS-XL have been assigned numbers: 4 (XS), 5 (S), 6 (M), 7 (L) and 8 (XL).