Why is everyone dressing like a soccer fan?

With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in full swing, fashion’s latest fad is blokecore.

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Adidas Sambas are a staple piece of the blokecore aesthetic. (Illustration by Camila Ceballos)

Sofi Cisneros, Staff Writer

For past and present soccer players alike, there’s a rush to lacing up one’s cleats in preparation for 90 grueling, yet thrilling, minutes of playing “the beautiful game.” Maybe a tracksuit will be involved, but it will be promptly stripped off when warm-up ends. And who could forget their tried and true jersey, signifying an undying dedication to one’s team? It’s a get-up that used to be ritualistic only to those who partook in soccer’s international cult-like following — until now.  

In an unexpected twist in today’s ever-changing trend cycle, the blokecore phenomena — the integration of soccer attire into fashion — has a chokehold on both street style and high fashion, transforming celebrities and the general public into soccer fan lookalikes. 

Specific pieces like the Adidas Sambas, vintage Nike track pants or head-to-toe Adidas tracksuits — that several brands and designers popularized, and a myriad of celebrities then regurgitated — run rampant on both social media and the streets in a clever synthesis of football culture and avant-garde fashion. 

“I think the integration between sports, which is what fashion often references, that ebb and flow has sort of returned to soccer, or if you’re in Europe, football jerseys,” NYU Stern Luxury & Retail Association president Martin Li said.

Though blokecore may have revolutionized the runway and the streets in 2022, sportswear and soccer-specific attire escaped the field and made their way into mainstream culture decades ago. Take the year-defining shoe, the Adidas Samba. The unassuming rubber-soled sneaker first emerged in 1950 as a simple soccer shoe. Its popularity has fluctuated since then, ultimately peaking this year with a 600% increase in sales since June. 

The shoe’s spike in popularity can be attributed to British designer Grace Wales Bonner. Her retro-hued variations of the Samba — that she continued to use in her eponymous brand’s Spring Summer 2022 collection — automatically create a sporty, ’70s-inspired look. Stylist and designer Lotta Volkova similarly reimagined traditional Adidas attire to fit her eccentric conceptualization of the brand back in 2020, producing an almost parody-like line featuring reinterpretations to the likes of Trefoil Mules or track pant leg warmers. 

High-end brands have also capitalized on the sportswear craze, accelerating its popularity to untapped levels this year. In June, Gucci released their highly anticipated collaboration with Adidas featuring an array of earth-toned bags, sweatsuits, and accessories emblazoned with Gucci’s infamous double G and Adidas trefoils. Balenciaga followed suit, releasing the second installment of their Adidas collaboration in early November with none other than Bella Hadid as the poster child for their sportswear couture. 

“When designers are tying these real world references in — jerseys as one of the most obvious where you can showcase a bunch of logos and create commentary with it — that doesn’t require a person to really sit down and read the show notes,” Li said. “What it does is there’s more potential for people to reference the real world using objects as obvious as the jersey.” 

Though celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajowski and Rihanna have all donned blokecore attire, none come close to Hadid’s influence. Her antithetical take on the trend can be seen in her expansive vintage-wear collection that she juxtaposes with Nike track pants, baby tee jerseys, soccer socks and, of course, her infamous Adidas Samba.  

Bella’s personalized reiterations of blokecore only intensified the trend, especially among Gen-Z girls. Whereas brands like Balenciaga or Gucci united with Adidas in a fusion of iconic labels and brand-specific styles, Bella’s pioneering approach to blokecore has inspired countless ironic variations of the trend, particularly when feminized with long plaid skirts, satin hair bows or even high heels

“I have seen some of it in class and around NYU, with students dressing this way,” said Moya Luckett, a Gallatin fashion and media studies professor. “I think there’s a lot of irony in fashion right now, particularly in terms of ugly items and the overtly pretty pieces they can be juxtaposed with.”

Gallatin sophomore and fashion major Sierra Estep also participates in the blokecore fad by merging her Sambas with her own sense of style. 

“I like wearing my Sambas with a skirt, maybe wearing them with something a little dressier because they’re very casual and then I wear something chic with it,” Estep said. “I wore them as a kid, so it’s kind of honing back to nostalgia which I feel is quite relevant within fashion.”

Whether you have the budget to splurge on Gucci or you’d rather integrate a pair of Sambas into your everyday style, one thing is for sure: blokecore’s versatility and transcendent nature in high fashion and streetwear stands as another example of fashion’s tendency to harmoniously blend the unexpected. 

“Much of this is going to be with us for a while,” Luckett said. “So if you have football socks or a shirt you wear for sport, why not add them into your wardrobe rotation?”

Contact Sofi Cisneros at [email protected]