Pre match suits have always been a fashion staple in the football world. You can often see players dressed sharply before big occasions such as a cup final or UEFA Champions league game. It has allowed high fashion to work its way into a sport dominated by tracksuits and trainers. This growing tradition has led to some interesting collaborations between clubs and designers. Arsenal have suit wear provided by Guillermo Andrade, Bayern by Hugo Boss and Barcelona, Thom Browne.
Thom Browne’s partnership with Barcelona is the product of years of organic growth within the sports industry. The New York fashion designer already held pedigree within sartorially focussed sports such as Tennis and Golf- while also providing suit-wear for the Cleveland Cavaliers; a collaboration which then saw Browne work with LeBron’s UNKNWN label. Speaking of his affinity for sports, Browne who is avid swimmer and runner told GQ in 2018: “I’m a huge fan of people that are the best at what they do”.
It was that same year in which Thom Browne signed an agreement with Barcelona to provide pre match wear for LaLiga away games and Champions League fixtures. Like previous projects, this one came about organically thanks to a wide array of footballers already counting on Thom Browne for their suits. Messi himself regards Browne his personal tailor.
During PFW 18, the most important show for the TB brand was not in Paris itself but at Wembley Stadium during the same week. Ahead of their clash with Tottenham, Messi and his crew were spotted walking to the changing rooms in the signature shrunken suit silhouettes that have become Browne’s flagship offering. The meaning behind the pre match suits is one that intends to send a message of unity and inspiration to the kids watching. Before, Barcelona players would enter the stadium individually dressed, where as Thom Browne’s uniform suits promote togetherness and team spirit.
Perhaps the crowning moment of the three year partnership came in October 2018 in the form of a charitable collection released in partnership with FC Barcelona’s foundation which aims to prevent violence, fight against social exclusion, and foster access to education through a series of programs. Designed for FW 20, the capsule included key pieces such as a merino wool cardigan, worn by above by Luka Sabbat, a wool short suit complete with a white Oxford shirt, tie and scarf.