Are you a soccer-curious hipster? Or perhaps a soccer fan who wants to be more hip? Perhaps you view soccer fandom in this country in general as a hipster’s pursuit. Perhaps you’ve surveyed the world of soccer hipsterdom and decided that it’s for you, that you want to enjoy soccer with an air of superiority and a carefully curated wardrobe. Well, we’ve got good news for you. We’ve compiled a list to help guide you through this new terrain.
Below are 10 essential accessories for the modern-day soccer hipster that will help alienate you from the majority of your peer group, but might also make you feel pretty cool from time to time.
First things first, you will need a vintage jersey for the team you’ve chosen to follow. There are numerous sites on the Internet that will provide you with a wide range of shirts from a wide range of eras, the ‘60s and ‘70s perhaps being the most hip. Toffs.com has a large selection, but if you’re looking for something a little extra special, look no further than Campo Retro. A boutique company producing beautiful reproductions of old jerseys, Campo Retro go far beyond the call of duty when it comes to attention to detail and craftsmanship. They have, in fact, devised the ultimate in retro jersey apparel: a line of monochrome, greyscale jerseys that pay tribute to the days of black-and-white television and put every other vintage jersey on the market to shame.
Despite the consistency of its dimensions and its unchanging purpose, the soccer ball has evolved a great deal over the years, thanks to technological advances both real and imagined, coupled with the constant unveiling of new models for major tournaments. The mere sight of a ball from the ‘80s can evoke pangs of nostalgia in tenderhearted soccer fans of the right age. But what better accessory for the soccer hipster than a ball that looks truly ancient? There are various boutique manufacturers to choose from on Ebay, some of which produce beautifully handcrafted reproductions of some of the earliest ever models.
Print publications about soccer are not nearly as widespread as they used to be, and those still widely available are not nearly cool enough for the aspiring hipster. But, there are a few print publications that merge great content with sleek and beautiful design, and The Blizzard stands out from the pack. More of a literary journal than a magazine, the publication spearheaded by Jonathan Wilson (of Inverting the Pyramid fame) is crammed full of some of the best writers in the soccer universe. It not only looks great when held casually under the arm on a train or bus, it is full of meticulously researched, well-written articles.
Soccer is not immune to the trends of popular culture, which means that at any given moment in time there is someone designing a minimalist poster in tribute to one of its teams, personalities, or moments in history. The good news for soccer hipsters that need something to adorn their walls with is that there is some beautiful work out there. Nick Barclay collection of hyper-simple tributes to great moments from the World Cups of the past is a fine place to start as it stands as a stunning example of the power of minimalism. With a few lines and clean blocks of color, Barclay can bring history to life and evoke memories that transcend simple visual symbols.
For numerous reasons, Borussia Dortmund has become the team of choice for soccer hipsters. Newcomers to the game who want a cool team to cheer for have often been attracted to Dortmund because of its status as a non-big-money club that has competed for major trophies thanks to wise management and tactical acumen. In short, the club represents an attractive alternative to the superpowers of European soccer. There’s plenty of apparel on offer, both official and unofficial, but what better way to show your allegiance to this hippest of soccer institutions than the fluffy embrace of a bathrobe
[Editor’s Note: If a Bayern Munich fan offers you good money for the bathrobe, you have to sell.]
Reproductions of old soccer apparel are all well and good, but there’s nothing quite like actual vintage memorabilia. This brings us to the threshold of Subbuteo—the plastic-player-flicking game so hallowed and significant that it really deserves its own article. Subbuteo was popular among children and adults in the UK in the 1980s despite the fact that it is incredibly hard to play properly. Because of its elaborate components (you could build your own rather large stadium for it if you had enough money), it has endured among enthusiasts for the obscure, and it is still played competitively. New and used bits and pieces can be found all over Ebay as well as sites such as Subbuteo World, so if you missed it the first time around you can still experience the glory.
If there’s one thing we learned from Portlandia, it’s that hipsters need to be able to claim that they have read all the important words. There is a pressing need to own a book, a classic book of some kind, that is battered enough to suggest it has been read several times over, and which can be referred to as “the Bible.” Such a book is not only a container of knowledge, it also equips the reader with the ability to say “yes, I have read that.” Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanksi’s Soccernomics is one strong candidate for Biblical status, but if the moneyball approach is not your thing and you’re more concerned with tactical matters, perhaps Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson will meet your needs. It will give you a thorough history lesson as well as a new understanding of the game.
If you want statistical knowledge and tactical acumen without necessarily doing any reading, then the Football Manager game is for you. Actually used by professional coaches and scouts to learn about player stats as well as experiment with tactical decisions, the game puts you, the player, in the managerial role. Should you master it, you will become an authority on the workings of the transfer market, the merits of certain tactical formations, and the relative worth and value of a vast array of real-life players. You will be compensated for you the time you spend sitting in front of a screen (watching fake men run around) with shrewd and cutting-edge knowledge that can be used to alienate you further from your peer group.
If you’ve got yourself a vintage jersey and ball, you might as well go all the way and get a pair of vintage soccer cleats—or “football boots” as both UK_natives and, therefore, American soccer hipsters prefer to call them. There are numerous sites, such as The Pro Boot Room and Classic Football Shirts, that collect and sell classic boots from bygone eras, but as with the shirts and balls, there are a number of boutique companies that make handmade reproductions of much older styles. Retro Star make products so attractive that you might be tempted to play soccer more often just to have the opportunity to wear them.
An old Umbro messenger bag—or “boot bag”—is vintage soccer apparel that you can actually use. And a New York Cosmos boot bag captures the glamor and excess of a very special bygone era, when soccer in the United States was all about Pele, big crowds and Studio 54.