Fashion triumphs at Africa’s World Cup

2010-06-30 16:09

Forget cross kicks, penalty shoot outs and red cards.

It’s the coaches in their snazzy tailored suits, the recession

inspired toned down approach of the players’ Wags (Wives and Girlfriends) and

Bafana Bafana’s bright yellow soccer shirts that has the World Cup fashionistas


Since kick off on June 11, the tournament has become a platform for

designers to show off their latest creations and according to local designer,

Gavin Rajah, South Africa through its use of yellow and bright colours is

basking in its international reputation as “a sunshine country”.

Rajah said: “The one thing that stands out about this World Cup is

the predominant use of colour. Colour is everywhere. I think that in the coming

year the yellow inspired by Bafana Bafana will be a big trend for fashion


Despite the event being hosted over winter, which tends to inspire

dull and dark dressing, the event had shown that Africans were “irreverent” of

seasons in their approach to colour.

Rajah said: “It’s very nice to see use of colour and people

embracing that. In sunny countries people tend to be happier. There is a sense

of celebration and festivity in the use of colour.

"People will remember the

bright colours and the mood of celebration when they think of South Africa. That

will be a big attraction in the future.”

Rajah said the World Cup had broken down the fashion stereotypes

foreigners hold of South Africa: “We dress a lot better than lots expected us

to. I think many foreigners have been quite surprised.”

Rajah said the tournament had instilled a “great pride” in the

national teams and this had had a major effect on dress code: “Other country’s

have always had a very distinctive identity in their colours, but South Africa

has always lagged behind in this area.

"We have been stuck in an era of buying

rugby merchandise but that will change now.”

One of the best parts of the tournament from a fashion perspective,

said Rajah, had been the collaboration between international brands such as

Puma, Nike and Adidas, to create sport orientated merchandise.

Rajah said: “The styling is better and the clothes fit better.

Designers around the world have produced these clothes.

"It is more contemporary

and more relevant to the man on the street. Everybody has taken on a more sporty

look. People are going out in soccer shirts.

Some of the teams have done amazing

work putting together their kit. T

he players seem to have a more refined edge

while the coaches are well-dressed in tailored suits.”

Even Argentina coach Diego Maradona, with his reputation for being

a cocaine addicted, hard drinking, foul mouthed troublemaker, had projected a

clean cut image in the World Cup.

Rajah said all the collections coming out, including menswear in

Paris this week, would be strongly influenced by the World Cup: “The event has

permeated fashion to an enormous extent. It had an effect on everyone in the

fashion industry.”

One top designer from Milan shot his entire show on the side of

Table Mountain.

“Even Gucci at the Waterfront has merchandise which is soccer

inspired,” said Rajah.

Louis Vuitton was another designing company that had produced a

football inspired monogram duffel bag in celebration of the tournament.

Dolce & Gabbana produced close-cut suits, sunglasses and briefs

for the Italian team, while British label Marks & Spencer dressed the

English team for the tournament, with the suit costing 200 pounds going on sale

last month.

Fashion critics said the Wags, led by former England captain David

Beckham’s wife Victoria, had taken a more toned down look for the tournament,

with trousers loose at the hip but tight at the ankle.

Dion Chang, the founder of the Flux Trends trends analysis company,

said the World Cup had through fashion and tourism dispelled a slew of myths

about South Africa and the country can enjoy a new image in the future.

Chang said: “The question is whether all the World Cup tourists

coming here are going to be brand builders for South Africa. One thing is for

sure and that is that the vuvuzela has replaced the wooden giraffe as the

tourist symbol of the country.”

Chang warned however, that the bright yellow mood in the country,

epitomised by the Bafana shirts, might not last forever: “Every host nation or

country goes into major depression after events like this. South Africa was in a

very ugly place politically and socially before the tournament.

“A lot of it was swept under the carpet. Hopefully we can draw on

the positive mood to circumnavigate that,” he said.


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