“One fashion trend I’d bring back? People wearing suits more. Whenever I see a grandad, you know, sixty-plus in a suit for no reason, I just find it really cool,” says Dominic Calvert-Lewin, football’s flyest grooming advocate.
It’s a surprisingly sunny day in Manchester and the Everton forward is speaking from the comfort of his living room, a stark contrast to the studio settings and bright lights he has become accustomed to since his rise as a pioneer of men’s self-expression. Having laid out the outfits of choice across his bedroom with each created to compliment a different grooming style, the Sheffield-born baller opts for a two-piece cashmere set for his first look, foreshadowing the style evolution he would later detail.
Though not quite touching his sixty-plus grandad era just yet, the 25-year-old has built a strong reputation for his ability to rock a suit, something many footballers are yet to dare explore. “Other players rocking suits? I don’t think I’ve seen it funnily enough,” he says with a wide smile. “But it’s like anything, if you’re going to put something on, you’ve got to feel comfortable otherwise you’re going to look awkward.”
For most players, the new-found freedom gained from their breakthrough into the professional game opens the doorway to an interest in fashion. For Calvert-Lewin, his journey with self-expression began way before that. “I think I’ve always been interested in fashion,” he admits.
“From when I was a kid, I always liked my school bags to be a little bit different from everybody else. I had these bright-coloured trainers and I always used to wear adidas shell-toes actually, which I always took pride in. So yeah, my interest probably started in my school days.”
“My teenage style?” Calvert-Lewin responds with a grin as the forgotten memories come flooding back. “Skinny jeans. Lots and lots and lots of skinny jeans,” he laughs.
“Oversized t-shirts and Vans too. From my mid-teens to late teens, that was my style really. I didn’t really know much else. I played it quite safe. I’ve not put a pair of skinny jeans on for a long, long time. I’m not sure I’d be able to pull them off now, I think I’d look strange.”
Having ditched the skinny jeans, comfort is now at the heart of Calvert-Lewin’s everyday style. Since gaining the label of a boundary-breaker within men’s fashion for his opinion-dividing outfits in previous magazine covers to his Chanel accessories spotted across Instagram, the Toffees number nine admits his style has constantly evolved since breaking onto the scene.
“I think it’s been something that has happened naturally,” Calvert-Lewin tells me. “As you grow and as you get older, any person in any walk of life, you’re constantly evolving and changing so I think my style, my fashion and what I wear now is different to what I wore even two years ago.”
“It’s funny how I see myself from when I first started doing shoots and things like that and what I’m wearing to what I wear now and how that’s evolved, even from then.”
Calvert-Lewin’s style evolution is not limited to just his clothing choices, though. Since his fresh-faced Blues debut back in 2016, ‘DCL’ as many now call him has since become the first-ever UK ambassador for grooming brand Braun with a paired vision of pushing self-expression and individualism amongst men.
“At first it starts off as you want to grow a beard so you look older,” he explains. “And then when you do grow one, you actually are that little bit older so you’ve got to start taking care of it.”
When people talk about style – in particular athlete style – grooming can often find itself as an overlooked trait with many undervaluing its importance and contribution to an outfit. This is something Calvert-Lewin is keen to change alongside Braun. “I believe grooming is an extension of yourself,” he tells me.
“Depending on how you groom yourself, your haircut and how your beard is trimmed, it can dictate how you feel and can really complete your outfit. There’s no better feeling than getting a fresh trim, a beard shape up and putting on a new outfit. For what that can do for your confidence and how it can make you feel, it’s amazing. For me, when I’m thinking of a fit, my grooming is a huge factor in that process and putting everything together is something I really enjoy.”
“Being free, being who you want to be and dressing how you want to dress is a huge thing and I think it comes over time. The more you edge towards who you want to be by experimenting with fashion and grooming, the more it ends up coming naturally to you. Braun are huge on pushing self-expression and individualism as a man and we share the belief that grooming is a vital part of someone’s sense of style, which was a big reason why it made so much sense to work alongside them.”
As someone without the luxury of being able to grow a beard just yet, I ask Calvert-Lewin for his number one grooming tip for both myself and my fellow beard-growing strugglers for when that long-awaited day finally arrives. “Brush your beard,” he says without any hesitation.
“You need to brush your beard from early. That way, when it gets a little bit longer, it’s really healthy. Once you get it healthy, Braun’s all-in-one trimmer is my go-to for a shape up and if I’m going clean-shaven, then it’s the Braun Series-7. I also use natural argan oil on my beard too.”
One of the most significant elements of fashion and grooming is the art of self-expression and individualism. Yet, the ability to take inspiration from others is a hugely underrated trait in itself. Whilst it’s evident Calvert-Lewin stands in his own unique lane in the football x fashion scene, I ask who he is inspired by when it comes to curating the style he is now renowned for.
“My fashion influences come from all over the place, to be honest, so it’s dependent on what kind of style it is,” admits Calvert-Lewin. “For streetwear, A$AP Rocky is one of the top ones that probably a lot of people say.”
“When it comes to suits, I draw inspiration from the 1970s really. That’s how I like to wear my suits. Grooming-wise, I’d say David Beckham. He’s aged pretty well, I don’t think you can argue with that so yeah, I’d go with Becks.”
At no fault of his own, the striker has struggled to feature on the pitch as regularly as he would have liked in recent times, battling with multiple different injuries out of his control. In sport and football in particular, it’s often forgotten that no one is more affected by an injury than the athlete in question, both mentally and physically, thus making interests away from the game an escape route. For Calvert-Lewin, fashion and grooming is that escape.
“Self-expression can be an outlet,” he explains. “For all the pressure you can feel in your day-to-day job playing football, it’s nice to be able to express yourself in ways that you don’t perhaps feel like a footballer. At least for me anyway.”
“My self-expression has evolved in different ways. I’m still flamboyant at times but I’ve gone from more flamboyant to not-so-flamboyant. Where I’m going now, less is more for me. I like to be comfortable and be simple with my style and I think that self-expression off the pitch can correlate to confidence on the pitch, definitely.”
For a sport that continues to adopt its outdated and traditional mindset, the rise of football x fashion has come as a surprise to many. From the ‘focus on football’ rhetoric to designer brand ambassador deals for some of the game’s biggest stars and luxury fashion labels launching collaborations with football’s European powerhouses, the relationship between the beautiful game and the fashion industry has never been greater.
I ask Calvert-Lewin what he, a player who has himself heavily contributed to the rise, would put the sudden growth of the niche down to. “There’s a platform now for people to express themselves more with social media,” he explains.
“I think it took a few players to break the barrier which has made it a lot easier for everyone else to express themselves freely and wear what they want to wear. It’s great to see. There are a lot of cool players knocking around these days and it creates a lot of conversation and a lot of interest in what the guys are wearing.”
Interested to know who Calvert-Lewin credits specifically for breaking that barrier, I prompt him for a name. “I think one of the first ones was Heccy B,” he responds, referencing Barcelona right-back Héctor Bellerín who, like Calvert-Lewin, has taken his fair share of criticism for daring to have outside interests.
“He was one of the first to start venturing into the fashion scene, from what I saw. He was the first one I saw walk the catwalk and things like that and then you see Eduardo Camavinga walking for Balenciaga, so I definitely feel as though there are two words colliding at the moment with football and fashion.”
As the relationship between football and fashion grows closer and closer and players feel more comfortable expressing themselves, it’s only natural that their competitiveness would shine through with the discussion for football’s best-dressed continually heating up.
“Best-dressed at Everton?” Calvert-Lewin responds before exhaling as though a life-or-death question has arrived at his doorstep. “Excluding me?” he says smiling. “Excluding you,” I fire back. “I’ll go my boy, Davo!” he says, awarding midfielder and close friend Tom Davies with the prize.
I deliver another tough dressing room question to Calvert-Lewin, this time asking for the one player he would give a style makeover to if presented the opportunity. “I’d probably say Jordan Pickford, you know. His fashion sense is quite rascal,” he laughs once more. “He’d probably say the same about me though, he’d probably say mine is rascal, but he’s quite logo heavy.”
It’s almost impossible to have the opportunity to talk to a Premier League footballer and avoid asking the question surrounding pre-game fits, something many have been pushing for in the game. With Barcelona players rocking their best fits at Camp Nou recently and Crystal Palace pushing players’ pre-training outfits across social media, what was once a pipe dream is fast becoming a reality. Like many players, Calvert-Lewin also wants to see its introduction into the game. “I’ve got to say, I’m a big, big fan of it.”
“I saw AC Milan’s Off-White collaboration and I think it’s been going on in the NBA for a long, long time so it’s probably only a matter of time before it happens. It’s already creeping into football.”
I ask whether the introduction of pre-game fits would provide a new platform for both himself and other players to try new styles each night, both grooming and clothing-wise. “One hundred percent,” Calvert-Lewin says confidently without a second thought.
“I think it’s something that suits me, so I’d quite enjoy that.”
Though fearless in his search for self-expression, Calvert-Lewin remains a far cry from the stereotype placed on many of football’s biggest stars. Throughout our conversation, his focus on comfort and simplicity over logo-heavy pieces and modern-day trends is apparent throughout and when it comes to jewellery, he is no different.
Avoiding tennis chain bracelets and in-your-face diamond necklaces, Calvert-Lewin instead opts for the minimal with anything he wears usually having meaning behind it. “I’m not massive on jewellery but I do wear a butterfly necklace most of the time,” he says whilst holding the butterfly pendant between his finger and thumb.
“This is actually a different one, the first one I ever got was in New York which was quite spontaneous. The butterfly represents the transformation of one thing growing into another and that’s quite symbolic of the last three years of my life, evolving from a young man into an adult, so it’s something I’ve continued wearing.”
Just like his taste in fashion, Calvert-Lewin’s taste in music also bares meaning. “Pre-game, I like to rotate but if I listen to a song getting off the bus and I go and have a good game, I’ll listen to the same song again the following week. I’m a little bit superstitious in that way.”
“Music is a big part of my life. I think music and fashion fall into the same bracket so dependent on what mood I’m in and how I’m feeling depends on what kind of music I’m listening to,” he reveals. “I’ve been listening to Kodak Black hard recently but my rotation can range quite far. Arctic Monkeys, I always dip in and out of them every now and again and a guy called Smino, an American rapper.”
Lastly, with the interview drawing to a close and the afternoon light edging closer to the darkness of a November night, I ask one last thing of Calvert-Lewin, to deliver a message to the youth of today who may lack the confidence to express themselves in a similar fashion as he does. “Nothing is ever as bad as what you think it is,” he begins.
“Everyone is in their own world anyway so you always think people are looking at you perhaps more than they are. So just go and be yourself.”
“I think the more you travel and experience different things from outside of where you’re from, the more you realise how different people are and how people express themselves. That’s something that has helped me.”
“It’s just about embracing who you are and accepting that everybody is different in different ways. For me, wearing suits and experimenting with my hair and beard actually gives me more confidence so I would tell young people to use fashion, grooming and whatever interests them as a platform to feel free and express themselves as an individual without fear of what other people think.”
In Partnership With: Braun
Styled By: Dominic Calvert-Lewin Himself
Shot By: Shane Bain
Grooming By: Jake Wanstall
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