“I hope I have an impact on the world in a sense where people look at me as a young kid living his dreams and living his life,” Timothy Weah says from the living room sofa of his Lille home.
It’s a wet and miserable Wednesday in the North of France with showers and grey skies having persisted from morning ’till evening. Despite this, the mood of the Les Dogues star could not be more different.
The 22-year-old has spent the majority of his day on set for a shoot with New Balance promoting a new, unreleased boot alongside the Boston-founded brand and with time now heading deep into the evening, Weah would be forgiven for lacking energy, as any person would.
But Timothy Weah is not just any person. Nor is he what you think.
Like New Balance, Weah originates from the United States. Born in New York, a city that birthed fashion icons such as A$AP Rocky, Weah credits his birthplace for his style. “We all know that New York is one of the most influential places to go for fashion, alongside Paris,” he says.
“Growing up in New York, you get a bit of everything. You have people from uptown, the Bronx who are particularly Spanish so you get that flavour. You got the Jamaicans who live in Queens and you got the Irish people that also live in Queens, so you get a mix of different things and you take inspiration from everyone. I think that’s what you get in the fashion culture as well as the music culture.”
Alongside NYC, it would also be his father’s interest in fashion that ignited the spark in Weah that has made him one of football’s flyest characters. “My interest in fashion started very early. Growing up with a father that was an athlete, he was also into fashion having lived in Italy, France and all these different places. He had Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Dior in his closet so I’d see all of that and I’d be like ‘damn, one day when I make it I want to get all this stuff too!’.”
That day has already arrived for Weah. With a designer-filled wardrobe of his own and a Ligue 1 title to his name before turning twenty-three, he now has the backing of a global brand in New Balance who have positioned him at the forefront of their mission to take over not just the game, but the world.
“New Balance has been huge for me,” Weah says whilst donning the brand from head to toe. “Their motto is about feeling free and feeling like you can do whatever you want, showing the world that you’re fearless, you know? They gave me an opportunity to really express myself and do the things I really want to do.”
“With the photoshoots we have, I have a say in it and with the videos and content we make, I have a say. It’s fun knowing I can use the platform they’ve given me to train both my fashion sense and creativeness and dive into those situations.”
The brand’s rise has seen global superstars such as the NBA’s Kahwi Leonard, rapper Jack Harlow and the multi-talented Jaden Smith sign with New Balance in recent years with Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mané and Bukayo Saka now rocking the iconic NB logo in the football scene alongside Weah.
Though hugely popular already, Weah believes the continued growth of the brand is only just getting started. “For me, New Balance is the best brand right now and I’m so happy that I’m with them,” he tells me.
“If you look five years before now, personally, I didn’t really see a lot of people rocking New Balance and if you look today, their shoes are everywhere. Everyone wants a 550!”
“They’re clean, they’re slick and I think New Balance is perfect for the stage and culture that we’re currently in. Their collaboration with Aimé Leon Dore is probably the craziest thing out there right now. Personally, I believe New Balance is already the biggest shoe brand, without a doubt, but they’re definitely going to be the best for some time to come.”
If you’re yet to jump on the New Balance wave, it’d be hard to believe you haven’t been living under a rock. There’s no need to panic, though. I ask Weah which product he would recommend to a first-time customer. His response?
“I’d tell them to be simple. You want to go with the fresh 550s. For me, as I said earlier, it’s one of the cleanest shoes around. I’m huge on shoes, I’m a shoe-head! One of the hardest shoes I have right now is the New Balance x Joe Freshgoods. Crazy colourway, the quality of the shoe, the material used… it’s something that a lot of people wouldn’t know how to style but those are the hardest shoes I have.”
Before entering his mid-twenties, Weah has already played in the U.S., France and Scotland having had spells with the New York Red Bulls, Paris Saint-Germain and Celtic before returning to France with Lille in 2019. Living in three vastly different countries has given him the opportunity to see different cultures and styles that others may not get to experience, something he says has shaped the way he sees fashion.
“I feel like the style in every place I’ve been has been very different but for me, I always say just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s not fashion. You feel me? If one person dresses one way, that’s how they see it and that’s their vision,” he tells me passionately.
“It’s just like art. Jean-Michael Basquait was painting his type of way and Andy Warhol was painting a different type of way but when they came together, it was something beautiful. I think it’s the same thing with fashion. Everyone has their own fashion sense and it’s beautiful in their own way. I love and respect it, it’s a way for people to express themselves and show who they are.”
The conversation around self-expression brings us onto the rise of football x fashion and the differing styles of players in the game with each bidding to show their personality away from the pitch. For Weah, the new generation of ballers are making the most of what the previous generations weren’t fortunate enough to have at their disposal: the ‘Gram.
“Players are showing their drip and I think with social media, you now have the platform to express yourself in a way that people didn’t have before.”
“I think seeing the NBA and seeing how they really push their fashion, I feel like as footballers, we want to do the same. Rap and hip-hop culture and all those other things come into play too. Guys are listening to music and catching a vibe and I feel like footballers are just feeding off all of that,” Weah explains.
“Everyone wants to be a star, everyone wants to be an artist and everyone wants to be a fashion icon and I think in football, we’re beginning to see that. Now you see a lot of players like Marcus Thuram, crazy drip! You’re seeing Trevoh Chalobah, crazy drip! Those are my guys and I think together, we’re taking it to that next level for sure.”
For most ballers with interests outside of the game, the ‘focus on football’ rhetoric is regularly thrown their way with the older generation of football fans seemingly incapable of letting go of their traditional mindset regarding athletes. For Weah, players are using their interest in fashion off the pitch to boost their performances on it. “I feel like fashion plays a huge part in how you play on the field and how you act off it.”
“If you dress nice, you’re going to move with swagger and like you’re looking good. On the field, a lot of players like to cut their socks, wear wrist tape and add a little sauce to it. If you dress well, you play well and if you dress well, you feel good.”
In typical fashion, I ask whether Weah would like to see NBA-style pre-game fits implemented in football. “I feel like it’s something they need to add because I’m tired of wearing the thing as my teammates!” he says with laughter. “That’s another way fashion would level up in football, players coming to the game with photographers there ready to take pictures and then ‘boom!’, you’re on the front page of Vogue.”
I respond by asking him how hard he would go if given the opportunity to rock his own pieces before each game. “For game day, you’ve got to put on your best stuff,” he says enthusiastically. “You gotta be the best dressed, you definitely have to break the internet I think!”
Keen to find out his style preference when he’s not trying to break the internet, I ask Weah about his everyday style, something his fans aren’t always able to see. “It’s really lowkey. I’m really a guy that likes to wear black clothes. Whether it’s drippy clothes, it could be something from Rick Owens or Balenciaga, but it’s calm, it’s lowkey, it’s fitted and chill. I’m not really into flashy colours or flashy things, I just like to stay mellow and vibe out.”
As Weah switches between each outfit, his perfectly-curated playlist plays around the house from the speaker based in his kitchen with the latest track from Compton-born rapper YG bouncing from room to room. “This is going to be the album of the year,” he tells me, something I’d find hard to disagree with. Rarely a moment goes by without Weah breaking into song or moving to each beat, giving me an insight into another huge passion of his: music.
“Music has been huge in my life. I’ve been listening to music since before I can walk,” Weah reveals. “My Dad is from Liberia and my Mum is Jamaican, so music is heavily rooted in our culture. Growing up with music, I listened to classical, jazz, r&b, hip-hop and reggaeton, all of that. Getting the flavours from each of those genres is huge on why I dress the way I dress. It adds the ability to manoeuvre through different styles and different textures.”
I take a further dive into Weah’s musical taste by quizzing him on his current rotation: “I’ve been really listening to afrobeats hard if I’m keeping it real.”
“I think two years ago I was bumping afrobeats on some regular stuff but now, I’ve been tapping into a lot of WizKid, Rema, Tems, Burna Boy and Victony so I’m heavy on the afrobeats right now. Travis Scott, Drake and those guys are definitely the legends I have on repeat in my playlist too.”
“One album I couldn’t live without? Oh man, that’s a good question! I think right now with the vibe that I’m in, of being in a mellow vibe and being chill, it would be WizKid ‘Made In Lagos’. It’s one of the best albums from start to finish. It’s just smooth, clean and elegant. I love it.”
From Weah’s energy when talking about music to the tracks playing around his house, I ask a question I should probably already know the answer to – who is in charge of the music in the dressing room?
“I’m always the dressing room DJ. They [other players] love it, man. Especially on the national team. When I go there, I’m DJ’ing the whole time. The locker room, the bus, anywhere. We have it on lock!”
Having never previously spoken to Weah before my arrival in Lille, I was unaware of what to expect from the U.S. international aside from the common knowledge of his ability in football and his range in fashion. After learning about his interest in music and specifically his taste for it, it’d be easy to label the youngster as a triple threat, mixing football, fashion and music into one. But after spending time with him, such a compliment would be doing him a disservice. Weah is more than a triple threat.
From his understanding of the different cultures he’s been indulged in to his referencing of artists Basquait and Warhol when describing his perspective of fashion, Weah is pioneering a new wave of ballers aiming to remove the stereotypes of athletes being one-dimensional and should ‘stick to what they’re good at’.
With Gen-Z chasing authenticity from players more than ever, Weah is seemingly incapable of acting anything other than himself. Aware of the young people in society who may be struggling with a lack of identity amidst the pressures of social media and ever-changing demands to feel included, I bring our conversation to a close with one last question: ‘What would be your message to the youth of today?’.”
“To the young kids coming after me, just be you,” Weah says. “Do what you want and dress how you want. Listen to whatever music you want and do your thing because at the end of the day, people are going to judge you and you can’t watch that.”
“You have to block out the noise and do you. Be you. Be free. Live life. Live your life like a butterfly, you know what I mean? People always ask me what that means. Have you ever seen a butterfly do anything? Nah, it just vibes. So just vibe.”
In Partnership With: New Balance
Styled By: Timothy Weah Himself
Shot By: Shane Bain
THE FLYEST FASHION TRENDS FOR THE NEW FOOTBALL SEASON
Without a doubt, it was an eventful off-season for football. Our favorite ballers have gone from movie-level holiday scenes, all the way into the recent round of international friendlies stateside and beyond. A hectic way to introduce this weekend’s all-new league title race, to say the least, but we’re here for it.
From the Bundesliga to La Liga, the Premier League & Serie A, the top style prospects – some new like the youngbloods on Chelsea’s roster, some veterans – have used this downtime wisely & carried the fashion game on their backs, using any opportunity to showcase their individual styles and character through clothing.
We’ve seen an impressive variety of fits and dress codes, with players cooling off – and loading up – as far as hillside & courtside L.A. to NYC, beachside in Mexico, yacht settings in French Riviera spots, Mykonos & Ibiza, to kicking ball in Asia. There’s no telling how many beige private jet interiors and clearport content we’ve seen from this season…and we’re not mad at it.
Take AC Milan star forward Rafael Leão for example. Just like his on-pitch play – the smooth stepovers, risktaking strikes – he’s recently come into his own style-wise too, developing much more confidence in his creative flair and how he pulls his fits together. He’s already been coming different with the flat caps, jorts and penny loafers. Tuff.
In anticipation of the new pre-game looks this season, we peeped the braziest fits of the past few months to bring you a round-up of the current fashion trends that are here to stay. Fellow ballers, stylists, personal shoppers, boys and girls of the FF community – take notes (or screenshots).
LV To Kenzo: Luxury Brands Still Have Motion
Clearly, Louis Vuitton’s streetwear-luxury reign has been extended with Pharrell’s takeover. More than ever, the brand has a growing pull that keeps players loyal to their designs – even without sponsorship deals. The likes of Jude and Jobe Bellingham, Sancho & Marcus Thuram pulled up kitted out in LV to Skateboy P’s opening SS24 Paris Fashion Week show and did numbers on the ‘Gram and TikTok.
Just like Pharrell, O.G designer and BAPE founder Nigo has brought new eyes to legendary brand Kenzo. The vibrant blend of preppy Parisian vibes with real Japanese formalwear is slowly picking up momentum & motion and saw shots & footage of Leroy Sané and girlfriend Candice Brook in full Kenzo drip at June’s show went viral across socials. It’s no wonder why given the traditional Japanese wrap shirt and wide-leg pleated pants the Bayern Munich winger rocked brought a whole new level of drip to the table, It’s time to see more players taking a chance on Kenzo’s graphic tees, kimono wrap-style blazer jackets and their cold denim pieces going forward.
Now take this in… Jules Koundé’s appearance at both Kenzo & Louis Vuitton’s shows alone made him the third most influential athlete – behind Lebron James and Lewis Hamilton – stacking up almost $1 million in media value* for brands just from online engagement, per lefty.io. Footballers as a whole made up 14% of Fashion Week’s media value. Stats that prove ballers aren’t ditching pieces from the world’s biggest brands just yet.
This season, we’re hoping to see for ballers rock the new camo, “Minecraft style” Damier LV print pieces introduced by Pharrell. Don’t be surprised to see the new “buttery” leather monogram speedy bags and the latest selection of solid leather jackets either, which have already been seen on Inter Milan’s Marcus Thuram.
The LV x Kid Super Autumn / Winter ‘24 collection is one to watch too, most notably the easily identifiable patchwork-face outerwear, donned by Chelsea’s Diego Moreira and renowned baller fashion-head Jesse Lingard.
Classy And Elegant Flex
Over the summer, we’ve seen luxurious vacation views and even more luxurious drip from the game’s biggest players. There’s been a clear shift, where ballers are wearing much more formal, understated, and classic fits. Take the classic tailored pants, the linen shirts and even the suede Loro Piana summer walks rocked by Juventus’ Moise Kean for example.
They’ve all been keeping to the unspoken yet strict color scheme too: cool beiges and browns, calm blues and crisp whites. The unshakeable Ousmane Dembélé – now at PSG – and Atlético Madrid’s Memphis Depay are just two ballers doing just that.
This classy theme is heavily inspired by the sweet, city life of fashion hotspots like Milan, Monaco, London and Paris. A life that calls for quality and coolness in all areas. Don’t get it twisted though – there’s no age limit on this trend. Young players like Liverpool’s Stefan Bajčetić have stepped up and made this their own. Check his ‘Gram for proof. At only 18, he’s yet to miss with once in the fashion regard. Designer Martine Rose also had the USWNT looking dapper & chic in their custom pre-game suits at the Women’s World Cup.
The cooler months will call for high thread count cashmere sweaters, flawless blazers, bespoke shirts and trousers with premium leather kicks. Look no further than brands like Prada, Loewe, Ami and JW Anderson for inspiration via their latest collections. Loewe’s introduction of high-waisted, straight and ever-so-slightly flared pants are 10/10. Affordable options in Cos and Massimo Dutti could also do the trick too.
This is definitely the vibe we’re looking for this season. Plus, with players like Jude Bellingham getting the call-up at Real Madrid and Timothy Weah linking up with the impeccably dressed Juventus guys, it’s no time before they see the vision & catch the Mediterranean wave.
Right (And Left) Wrist Van Cleef
Drake was spot on when he sealed this trend into current culture with the above lyrics from “BackOutsideBoyz”. The luxury jewelry brand – Van Cleef & Arpels – famed for their neat and lightweight four-leaf clover style “Alhambra” bracelets – have got players like Jadon Sancho spinning the block back to the store and doubling up the amount they wear on one wrist.
The brand has really caught on due to its “lucky charm” look, which means each link gives off a personal feel to its owner. Now this may not be everyone’s vibe (nor everyone’s price bracket) and that’s cool. More than anything this season we’re looking out for similar jewelry that has a sentimental feel to it. Chains and bracelets that are delicate in weight, but valuable in their meaning fit this criteria. This new trend of jewelry with sentimental value also explains why stars like Drizzy recently grabbed Tupac’s ring (before Karim Benzema got a chance) and Pharrell’s chains at auction. Expensive or cheap – we’re ready for ballers to follow suit.
Heavy On The Denim
If you haven’t been under a rock these past few months, you’ll agree that the jorts – or jeans shorts – trend has been going crazy amongst players. From LV print carpenter shorts to knee length and baggier three-quarter styles, the variety made it an easy summer staple for the likes of Leão and style heavyweight Trevoh Chalobah.
Looking ahead to the 23/24 season, it’s time to turn the denim trend up a notch. After all, jorts can’t be the move in the upcoming colder weather. Brands like Givenchy, Gucci, Loewe, Diesel, Y-Project and JW Anderson are dropping so many denim options back to back that we’re now spoilt for choice. But these aren’t the overly ripped, super bleached or distressed types we’ve been used to.
These are jeans in their purest form, with a heavy-weight look to them: a sign of quality. Whether that be 90s-looking light blues, mildly stonewashed grays or darker-dyed options, good denim is a vibe right now. Jeans that look sturdy & hefty, straight fit and slightly wide (but not ridiculous). We’ve had promising glimpses of this already, but we’re definitely praying to see more across the league. Less of the overdone & typical flashy jeans, more of the traditional, tastefully finished stuff. Alright, the Denim Tears and Chrome Hearts jeans can stay too…
Tales From The Far East
South Asia has recently provided top-notch hospitality within football over the summer. Hosting the Barcelona boys in Tokyo and welcoming Manchester City in South Korea on their pre-season tours. But it’s Asia’s contribution to fashion that ballers and fashion fanatics should be most grateful for.
We know the Japanese don’t play when it comes to quality design and individualistic 1-of-1 drip that’s made to last a lifetime. Their creation & use of materials is globally respected, as their dyeing & “boro boro” reuse/upcycling process is one that’s been perfected for generations. For those looking to bring different vibes and have a fashion advantage, we recommend locking in & seeking out the rising fashion brands & trends coming out of Asia this season. You’re bound to find unseen archive pieces, crazy silhouettes (again, like Kenzo) and second-to-none textiles & detailing. This is the boundless creativity and freedom football has been needing; Asian fashion and excellent craftsmanship overseas will play a big part.
Brands like Thug Club out of South Korea – already supported by the likes of ASAP Rocky, SZA and Central Cee – are bringing new interpretations of streetwear with fire designs. Their double denim sets are embroidered with their futuristic-looking star & moon “TC” logo are too hard to pass up. And the caps, tees and hoodies? A must-cop!
Standout designers like Seoul-based Andersson Bell & LVMH prize nominee Juntae Kim are ones we hope to see featured amongst Barca’s tunnel fits & rocked well at the Netherlands’ national team camp. Bell knows ball, since recently the brand hosted Trevoh Chalobah front row at their Milan SS24 show. The new collection features crazy style linkups like doubled-up hoodies & leather pants patched with cargo pockets. The latter brand Juntae goes equally as hard with cropped bomber jackets and immaculately creased denim that give a two-tone effect. Phenomenal.
Of course, long-standing luxury Asian brands like WooyoungMi & Japanese brand Sacai – most known over here for the Nike Vaporwaffle – could do with some more love in the league. Sacai’s on a different level since their recent collaborations with Carhartt, which is all about upgraded workwear and fits inspired by the great outdoors. Their multi-functional dungarees and pocketed puffers, bombers, long length parka jackets with asymmetric openings would be a perfect fit for a style maverick like Michy Batshuayi.
This one ain’t just a trend, it’s a movement. Get tapping into the endless brands coming out of Asia!
The bigger the buckle, the better! Musicians like Travis Scott & Kendrick Lamar have been rocking custom belts the size of WWE titles and we’re feeling it. Seeing the strong connection between sport and music, it won’t be long before we see ballers tighten up and catch onto the bucklemania effect. You won’t have trouble finding your own, since Gucci has brought back the legendary double G buckle and Loewe have released belts big enough for Wild West cowboys.
Let us know which trends you’re looking out for ahead of another wavey year in the football x fashion space.
ROSELLA AYANE IS READY TO BLOOM WITH MOROCCO
“I didn’t see the dream of being a professional when I was growing up so I think we, as female players, have a responsibility to show young girls that this can be a career and playing football is something they’re allowed to do,” Rosella Ayane says on behalf of the countless female athletes with similar stories.
From her serene, humble yet confident and present state – almost matching this warmly sun-lit London apartment we’ve met her in – you’d forget that the 27-year-old will soon face the highest peak of any footballers career: representing her nation on the world stage.
Though Reading-born to a Scottish mother, Rosella’s bold decision in 2021 to reconnect with her heritage and represent her father’s home country Morocco has been respected and backed within the game. The African nation is only separated from Europe by the strait of Gibraltar between the Mediterranean Sea & Atlantic Ocean, but a weighty decision like that isn’t made overnight. However, such a decision is more than paying off for Ayane whose AFCON semi-final spot-kick against reigning champions Nigeria sent Morocco through to not just the tournament final but to this summer’s World Cup, making them the first Arab nation in women’s football to qualify.
“It was a crazy moment. I should probably read a dictionary because I need to find new words for it. The atmosphere out at AFCON was incredible. I was in Marrakesh a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t been there since that moment and the reception I got was surreal,” Ayane says, eyes beaming whilst reliving the experience.
“It just shows the stamp that we’ve put on women’s football. Obviously, the men did so well at the World Cup too and I think that shows that Morocco as a footballing nation respects both the men’s and women’s teams. That’s very evident and is still evident now from the hype we’ve got going into the World Cup this summer.”
“It took me a while to digest and realise what we’ve done,” Ayane says on the World Cup qualification that was seemingly against all odds. “I didn’t actually realise how much history we’d made until my family listed all the achievements to me. To be the first Arab country to qualify and to do it for the first time in Morocco’s history, it definitely took a while to sink in. I don’t know how much will feel real when we walk out against Germany in the first game.”
Whilst the success of this Atlas Lions team and the name of each player being firmly placed in the history books could be enough for Ayane, she remains far from the end goal of inspiring a generation of young girls across not just Morocco, but the world.
“There shouldn’t be judgment on young girls playing football and I think we as players of the women’s national team need to pave the way for girls to be footballers or whatever they want to be in life.”
“Then, with more investment, the support from brands like size? and the more the game is in the public eye, you’re only going to see it expand and young people will see us on the TV and in magazines like I never got to see. They’ll be able to grow up and say ‘I want to be like her’.”
Of course, it’d be wrong to talk about this summer’s World Cup without asking a star involved in her tournament predictions, something Ayane is more than happy to get stuck into. “Well, Morocco are going to be in the final of course, so that’s a silly question!” she says with a smirk that quickly turns into laughter.
“If, and it’s a big if, for some bizarre reason we aren’t in the final, you can’t take the United States lightly. The other team is really hard to choose. It really depends on who turns up during the tournament. You’ve got Germany, you’ve got France who will be a force and then Australia of course, who will do well since it’s a home tournament.”
“I’m going to say an unpredictable one and pick Australia. They’ve got a whole country behind them. People don’t realise it but that is like having two extra players, not just twelve players but thirteen! Having a home crowd and that buzz, full stadiums and everyone behind them will pay off. So my final prediction is Australia vs. the United States with the US coming out on top, but this is obviously only if Morocco gets knocked out for some bizarre reason,” Ayane smirks once more.
With the interest in women’s football growing with each passing day, players such as Ayane are now gaining social media audiences bigger than their male counterparts, with Ayane’s 217,000 Instagram followers surpassing many male Premier League stars. With that comes not just fame, but influence and responsibility, something the Moroccan doesn’t take lightly.
“Speak to any female footballer and they realise the depth and magnitude of being an inspiration,” Ayane says. “It’s something we’re very proud of. We want to help inspire the next generation and every player will sit here and say that. The bigger the game gets, the bigger we become as role models and that’s something I found out after AFCON last year. It’s something I’m very prideful of and I’m very happy to try to be the best role model I can be.”
That level of responsibility both online and offline is something previous generations of players have not been accustomed to given the lack of coverage in the game failed to allow major growth for athletes’ personal brands. For Ayane, the lack of coverage in her childhood prevented her from seeing football as a viable career option.
“If I’m honest, the coverage was non-existent when I was growing up,” Ayane admits. “I didn’t see the women’s game on TV, I didn’t see it as a profession and I didn’t see it as something I could make a living from. It was just something I fell into because I loved it and year by year, I slowly found myself becoming a professional footballer. It was just step-by-step.”
“One of my teammates, Becky Spencer, actually put a clip up of her playing in the FA Cup final for Birmingham donkeys years ago,” Ayane recalls.
“I remember saying to her, ‘I watched that game mate’ and I was only about 12. That’s probably the only women’s game I ever remember watching on TV. That needs to change and it is slowly changing thanks to platforms such as size? being serious about pushing our game.”
With more interest comes more investment which has no doubt increased the quality of the Women’s Super League, most notable by last season’s incredible to-the-end title race between Manchester United and Chelsea, with the Blues snatching another title late on. Ayane, who also found herself coming out on top of a battle towards the bottom of the table, believes such a level of competition is vital for the growth of the game.
“One of the reasons the Premier League in men’s football is so highly respected and watched globally is because you never know who is going to win week in, week out,” she says. “I think it’s starting to get to that point in women’s football. As you just said, with the title race, you didn’t know who was going to win until toward the end. I think it was the same with the bottom of the table too.”
“You didn’t know who was going to get relegated until the last game of the season. That in itself speaks volumes for where women’s football is going and it’s a credit to everyone who is involved. With that level of competition, the quality and viewership will only get higher.”
Whilst football is Ayane’s one true love, fashion is also a close contender. The rise of the football and fashion crossover no longer requires any explanation. At this point, being unaware of it would raise serious questions over where one has been for the past two years. Players from all around the game, from England to Italy and male players to female, are actively showing their fits off the pitch these days and Ayane is no different.
“I just think, with fashion, it’s my way to express myself away from football,” she begins. “From your clothes to the way you dress and style yourself, it can say a lot about how you’re feeling and your personality. I think when footballers get put in this box of just being footballers, fashion, music and all things culture-related are outlets to express yourself and prove that label wrong. Self-expression is one thing a lot of players, including myself, love doing through their clothes.”
“My outfits depend on where I’m going. One thing I will say about my fashion is it’s versatile. I haven’t just got one look or one thing I like to base my fits on. I love to glam up but I also love to glam down. When I open my wardrobe, it depends on the event and I like to fit in with the atmosphere or the vibe but describing my style isn’t black and white.”
At Tottenham, Ayane is not alone in her passion for fashion…
“Fashion is big in the dressing room, definitely. A lot of the girls come in wearing outfits if they’re going somewhere after training, so we’ve got some fashionistas at the club. I have to say Shelina Zadorsky is very well- dressed. She’s always coming correct and she’s always got the latest pair of trainers or she’s wearing a fit everyone rates.”
“Who could do with some help? Bless her… probably Kerys Harrop. She probably doesn’t care and fair enough, not everyone cares about fashion like that but some of the clobber she has on? I probably wouldn’t leave the locker room in. She probably wouldn’t wear what I wear and would say I look stupid in this,” Ayane laughs, pointing to her own fit. “Fashion fits everyone differently.”
No matter how fly Ayane looks today or on any previous day, nobody is immune to a fashion malfunction from time to time and unfortunately for her, the latest was only a few weeks back. “I was at an event and I was sat at the dinner table and it was like awards, so black-tie and glam-glam, and I could feel something itching my back,” she says, painting the scene of the calamity.
“I kept reaching towards it and thinking ‘What is on my back’. I said to my mate, ‘Have I got something on my back, like something crawling?’ and nobody had told me or realised that I’d left a massive tag in. So I’m walking around with what looks like a GPS vest on my back because the tag is still in my dress. That, for me, is my biggest malfunction and it was on a red carpet. I went straight to the toilet and asked my friend to rip it out of my dress,” Ayane says sending the room into laughter.
Footballers are competitive in anything they do. Ayane herself admits when she steps onto the pitch, her whole demeanor can change in order to get a vital win. So it’s no surprise that when it comes to fashion, players want to be the best. With athletes becoming more and more interested in fashion, a debate around who sits on top in the fashion stakes is to be expected and online, it’s already arrived.
For Ayane, naming a top-five list isn’t an easy task but as always, she’s happy to dive in.
“First, I’ve got to go with my girl Leah Williamson,” she says on the Arsenal and England star, who is also a close friend. “She comes correct at every event, you have to give it to her. Even if I go chill at her house, she’s wearing something decent and she’s just sat in her house so I’ll go with Leah as number one.”
“Do you know whose outfits I always rate but couldn’t personally wear? Lauren James and Shanice van de Sanden. Those two are always very well-dressed. Trinity Rodman has popped up on my explore page a couple of times and it’s always an outfit that you think ‘Okay, that’s lit’. Kenza Dali is clean and she’s a big sneaker girl, so I’ll go with her to make up my five.”
Leah Williamson. Lauren James. Shanice van de Sanden. Trinity Rodman. Kenza Dali. Some list.
Like fashion, music is another hugely popular way for athletes to express themselves without a ball at their feet. From players now making their own tracks to having their name referenced in bars, the music x football crossover is also undeniable. For Ayane, there’s no doubt in her mind when it comes to her music opinions, which she happily admits will be sure to annoy some people.
“I’m probably going to get a lot of heat for this but I don’t particularly care… I can’t listen to Taylor Swift. I can’t listen to her music and I don’t understand how her tickets are so expensive. Harry Styles is another one I can’t listen to. Sorry, I know I’m going to get hate for this. Harry Styles, if I had to, I could listen to him, but Taylor Swift? No. If she came on the radio, I’d turn it off immediately and listen to classical,” Ayane laughs.
“My favourite track and one I’ll always put on the aux is Last Last by Burna Boy. It’s just a banger. It gets the room going and whatever the vibe, you can rely on that song and for me personally, it has a lot of good memories. I played it every game day at AFCON so it always brings back the good vibes.”
“Most underrated artist? Good question! I’d personally go with Tems. I think she has bangers! I’ve had her latest album on repeat recently and I’m quite bad if I like an album, I will drown it out until people are like ‘please stop’. I’ll have it on repeat with no care in the world.”
Ahead of the biggest summer of her life, Ayane is a pleasure to talk to. As relaxed as someone without an ounce of pressure on their shoulders, each response she offers is full of charisma, taking the time to provide depth to each response whether it be through humour or an inspirational tone as she discusses helping the next generation of Moroccans to see the dream she could never see. “You have to enjoy what you’re doing,” she says on her advice to young girls aspiring to be in her position.
“Whatever job you’re in, you have to enjoy it. That’s how the best version of yourself is going to come out. I think that’s major in football. Happy players off the pitch usually play well on the pitch so I think enjoying yourself is my main bit of advice. Even if you don’t want a career in football, make sure that whatever you do in life, you do it with enjoyment.”
Shop all of Rosella Ayane’s looks and the full size? Homegrown collection here.
In Partnership With: size?
Photography: Shane Bain
Conversation: Ryhanna Parara
Words: Jason Owusu-Frimpong