A new brood of football fashionistas joins Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Messi as style icons

Stylists, designers and fashion commentators weigh in on the current crop of footballers, who are making an impact both on and off the pitch

Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo Published :  29th June 2018 11:50 AM   |   Published :   |  29th June 2018 11:50 AM
A new brood of football fashionistas joins Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Messi as style icons

A new brood of football fashionistas joins Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Messi as style icons

When the British Fashion Council roped in David Beckham to be its ambassadorial president earlier this year, it was all the proof one needed that football does influence fashion greatly. In the fashion weeks in Paris and Milan of late, labels like Vetements, Versace, Burberry and Balenciaga chose to send football club-inspired scarves and jackets down the runway, a trend that was soon spotted on the streets across the world. The 2018 FIFA World Cup hasn’t disappointed, with the world’s most loved footballers offering plenty of inspiration through their off-duty and airport looks. While Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr have been the cynosure of all eyes, we take a look at others like Japan’s Keisuke Honda and Germany’s Jérôme Boateng who have also created a splash with their well-tailored suits, rockstar-inspired ensembles, and affinity for luxury brands. 

Keisuke Honda, Japan 
Having been brought up in his grandparent’s home in Osaka, the 32-year-old midfielder, who currently plays for Mexican football club, FC Pachuca, offers glimpses into a childhood that was fraught with disagreements with his grandmother, at the top of the list of which was his obsession with football. Talking about his humble beginnings in a video on the website theplayerstribune.com, the star who cemented his spot as a fashion icon when he was spotted wearing two luxury wrist watches at the same time, says it was a video of Pele that got him hooked to the game. “We didn’t have much growing up, but we weren’t as poorly off as Pele had been. But, I wanted to support my family. More importantly, I was extremely passionate about the game,” says Keisuke (in the video clip), who has been the face of brands such as Cartier, Uniqlo and Shiseido. Classic rather than over the top, his style statement is relaxed yet chic, thanks to his preference for tailored Italian suits. Decoding his style, Bengaluru-based stylist Ambrish Sonari says, “He can be termed a classicist. Off the field, he carries himself in an impeccably cut suit or a combination of blue denims and a white shirt. He seems to stick with things that have stood the test of time. If you choose to take cues from his wardrobe, I suggest you invest in a classic blue suit, a linen blazer for a sunny day, a crisp white shirt, blue denims and a comfortable dinner jacket.” 

Extra time: Keisuke has been hailed by many as the next David Beckham, both on and off the field.

Jérôme Boateng, Germany
If you’re not a football fan, you’d be forgiven if you mistook Jérôme Boateng for a rock star (which he could be, given his experimentation with rap, and a stated love for music). The Bayern Munich defender recently collaborated with H&M’s new brand Nyden to design a collection that reflected the footballer’s unique style, one that can be best described as street-style-meets-hip-hop. According to Ambrish, 29-year-old Jérôme is the pin-up boy for the athleisure trend. “A perfect example of how to wear athleisure, he also knows how to match his sneakers with a suit. Sometimes, he adds signature touches to his look by adding elements such as a pair of chunky headphones. A sneaker head through and through, Boateng’s style says ‘Don't follow the pack. Look for pieces no one else has and start your own trend,’” offers Ambrish. Besides designing for H&M, Jérôme — who has a weakness for labels like Balmain, Balenciaga and Supreme — has endorsement deals with Harman and JBL headphones, a contract with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, an entertainment company, and his own line of sunglasses, JB by Jérôme Boateng Eyeglasses inspired by his signature look. 

Foot work: Jérôme owns over 650 pairs of shoes.

Marouane Fellaini, Belgium 
His Mickey Mouse-inspired hairdo for a magazine’s photoshoot in March this year earned him the reputation of being someone who is willing to push the envelope when it comes to fashion and style. The Manchester United midfielder, who has Moroccan roots, has a preppy and young look that goes perfectly with his statement-making Afro. “His hair is undeniably edgy, and is a fashion statement all by itself,” says designer and rallyist Anitha Kholay, adding, “I love the ankle length trousers that he sports. He looks like a lean mean runway model.” While his taste for distressed denims and graphic t-shirts is often on display, there is also a side to him that has a weakness for suits, if his love for bespoke men’s brand, Battistoni, based in Rome, is anything to go by. 

Locks and key: Marouane gets his hair styled by California-based Shai Amiel (nicknamed the ‘curl doctor’), whose other clients include celebrities like Zendaya.

Antoine Griezmann, France 
The 27-year old forward, who also plays for Atletico Madrid, was the cause of social media outrage about six months ago. The Frenchman posted a picture of himself dressed as a Harlem Globetrotter, complete with darkened skin and an Afro wig. While he apologised and took the posts down after he was slammed online, it is a clear reflection of his interest in playing dress up, though this particular instance was in poor taste. Off the field, Antoine is known to favour Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. “I think he strikes the right balance between minimalistic and eclectic. His style is proof that less is more. He follows trends, as I’ve seen him wearing athleisure streetwear, but he has also been spotted with some classic suits,” says Ambrish of the footballer who has appeared in advertisements for Beats by Dre.

Take a shine: Antoine caused a stir when he turned up for a UEFA awards ceremony in glimmering silver shoes minus socks.

Sergio Ramos, Spain 
The Real Madrid and Spain captain has a penchant for making a statement with fitted clothes that are striking without being loud. From embroidered Gucci backpacks and boots to Dolce & Gabbana resort wear, the amateur rapper is known to experiment with colour when it comes to his personal style. “He’s quite an attractive man and has the right look that can carry off any colour or print,” says Anita, commenting on his style. The 32-year-old recently released SR4, a rap number that talks about his life and career. Having struck endorsement deals with brands like Nike, Hugo Boss, Pepsi, Gatorade and Microsoft, Sergio’s appeal is versatile and timeless.

Horsing around: Sergio loves horses. He even has a stud farm, which he retires to when he wants to take a break.

Claudio Marchisio, Italy
Italy may not have played the World Cup this time around, but their midfielder is a force to be reckoned with, when it comes to style. Always immaculately dressed in suits, and crisp button-down shirts, the 32-year-old footballer who plays for Juventus is a fan of Italian brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani. He was even featured in Dolce & Gabbana underwear ads a few years ago. “Even in jeans or sweats, I try to pay attention to every last detail, and always add a touch of elegance. But I prefer a suit to jeans and a tight T-shirt,” he has declared in an interview. Commenting on his style, fashion consultant and former fashion journalist Vinod Nair says, “Being an Italian, I think his sense 
of style comes naturally. Well cut, tapered suits and his signature bearded look make him very 
fashionable off the field.”

Lording over: His teammates have named him ‘principino’ or ‘little prince’, thanks to his obsession with well-tailored, luxe suits.

Dele Alli, England
Fans looking to emulate 22-year-old Dele Alli’s style need look no further than his collection for BoohooMan, the menswear brand of UK-based online fashion retailer, Boohoo.com. The month-old collection is designed fully by Dele and includes a range of satin varsity-style jackets, skinny ripped jeans, striped shirts and checked joggers. “He is the messiah of the outerwear trend. He can pair his jackets right and how! Pea coats, trenches, bomber jackets or baseball jackets... you can take a crash course on how to pair them just by scrolling through his Instagram page,” enthuses Ambrish of the Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder.

Tune in: Dele appears in North London rapper Meridian Dan’s video for his 2015 track, Hot For Me Now.



Stars who already have a huge following thanks to their iconic status.

Neymar Jr , Brazil
The Paris St Germain and Brazil forward has pages and websites dedicated to decoding his style. His fashion choices tend to make a splash, be it a Balmain python biker jacket or Giuseppe Zanotti loafers or a Supreme X Louis Vuitton blouson jacket. His sponsors include Nike, Red Bull, Gillette, McDonald’s and Beats by Dre.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
The Portuguese superstar is so fashionable that he has his own fashion line, CR7, an extension of his personal style, which is slick and trendy. Having struck deals with Nike (he even starred in designer Olivier Rousteing’s baroque-inspired collaboration with NikeLab), launched his own perfume, Legacy, and signed sponsorship deals with names like Emporio Armani, Tag Heuer, Jacob and Co and Clear shampoo, he is undoubtedly a fashion icon. 

Lionel Messi, Argentina
He may not be the most fashionable footballer, but he does have his own fan following, thanks to his superstar status. Some of his current sponsorship deals include Adidas, Hawkers and Pepsi, and in the past, he has been the face of Dolce & Gabbana, Nike, Audemars Piguet and Gillette.