When it comes to professional sports, you often see high fashion brands on the backs of athletes off the field but never during game play. However, it should come as no surprise that soccer (or football, out of North America) is the first sport to really embrace fashion on the field. Many soccer players in Europe have modeled for brands,have enviable closets that resemble high-end boutiques and are often credited for bringing the slim, slick suits to the sporting world. Only in recent years have North American athletes began adopting the "Euro" style of dress and swagger.
Today, Dolce and Gabbana announced that they would be extending their deal with the Italian national soccer team through 2014. The Italian fashion house will begin designing kits for the men's senior team for the qualifications of the 2012 UEFA European Championships as well as the Under-21 squad. The collaboration originally started in 2006 after the men's national team (also known as Azzuri) won their fourth World Cup. Dolce and Gabbana's old deal had them dressing the Italian athletes in suits for pre and post game, but not on field. Azzuri's previous jersey outfitter was German sports brand Puma. 2014 is a significant year as it marks the next FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Italy will be trying to capture their fifth World Cup after falling short of defending their title in 2010.
The Italian national team isn't D&G's first foray into soccer sponsorship. They sponsor local Serie A squad AC Milan and they've also been clothing the Milano Beach Soccer Club since 2008. D&G also produced a book dedicated to the players of AC Milan appropriately titled Milan Fashion Soccer Players Portraits this past May and have used athletes for underwear advertising editorials.
What team or sport will we next see embracing high fashion on the field? Stella McCartney designs tennis gear for adidas and the Williams sister ae known for pushing the boundaries of costume attire with their on-court attire with Nike. Fashion often takes cues from sport using football pads as armour for models and varsity jackets are now synonymous with streetwear. Rafael Nadal has stripped down to model for Emporio Armani while Dwyane Wade is collaborating on watch collections - sports and fashion are no longer odd bed fellows but frequent collaborators.