World Cup fashion stakes

2014-06-22 15:02

From mismatched boots to ones that look like socks, the brands at this year’s World Cup are as exciting as the sport itself, writes Daniel Mothowagae

It was fitting that Neymar scored the first goal of the tournament for Brazil when the World Cup kicked off last Thursday.

The scenario was even more fortunate for Nike as the 22-year-old’s Number 10 jersey and his nation’s replica shirt are the bestselling World Cup apparel.

According to Fanatics.com, the largest online retailer of licensed sports merchandise, Neymar’s jersey sales jumped 200% from the four days leading up to the start of the tournament.

The website based its survey on sales data collected – mainly from US customers – in the first four days of the tournament.

Nike kits out 10 teams at Brazil 2014, one more than closest competitor Adidas and two more than Puma.

But by virtue of being the commercial partners of world football governing body Fifa, Adidas has an added advantage over its rivals as it provides the official match ball, the Brazuca.

In addition, the German sports goods maker kits all the referees, ball boys, flag bearers and volunteers.

Nike, the US brand that came into football in 1994, endorses a significant number of top players from the 32 competing nations.

It pushed the boundaries with its flyknit technology Magista boots, which can easily be mistaken for socks. Brazilians Thiago Silva and David Luiz are among those who parade this shoe.

Not to be outdone, Adidas came to war with cleats full of dalmation-like spots. The German sports apparel maker dubbed its collection the “battle pack” with its redesigned models of the 11pro, the F50, the Predator and the Nitrocharge.

The brand said the design was inspired by the “war paint of native warriors and the iconic pavement patterns of ancient Mesopotamia, perfected on Copacabana Beach” in Brazil.

The faces of the brand include Argentina captain Lionel Messi and the Netherlands’ talismanic pairing of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.

Côte d’Ivoire midfielder Yaya Touré, Italy’s Mario Balotelli, Spain’s Cesc Fàbregas and Argentina’s Sergio Agüero are all showing off for Puma. The brand’s athletes are distinguished by their mismatched pink and blue boots, aptly named Tricks.

The pink boot is worn on the right foot and the blue one goes on the left. During the boot launch before the World Cup, Balotelli remarked that he “thought the Puma guy was mad”, but when he realised he wasn’t, he “was already excited”.

The lesser-known brands at the World Cup are Swiss label Burrda Sport, Spanish label Joma, Italian label Lotto, Ecuadorian label Marathon Sports and German label Uhlsport, each sponsoring one team at the tournament.

Uhlsport, which kits out the Iranian team, came to prominence as a maker of goalkeeper gloves.

There was a furore in the Iranian camp over the kit supplier after coach Carlos Queiroz and some of his players publicly criticised the strip, saying socks and shirts shrank when washed.

Bestselling soccer jerseys in Brazil

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