In a sport in which the art of self-expression and individualism has become a dying art, Moise Kean is an outlier.
From his unique social media feeds to his hit celebrations on the pitch – most notably the Griddy – the 22-year-old fears no one in his mission to be true to himself, even in the face of backlash from those still adopting football’s traditional and outdated mindset in which athletes should be one-dimensional.
The Juventus striker is still on his way back from training when I arrive at his Turin home a few minutes before our agreed meet time, prompting concern that I may have arrived at the wrong destination. Loading up Instagram, I hit him with the update that I’ve arrived, still hopeful that the gated entrance I’m staring at belongs to Kean. “Coming bro,” he responds just seconds before pulling up behind me in what would be the start of a day spent with one of football’s most unique characters.
The sun is shining in the Turin and specifically on the driveway, providing a crystal clear sight of the Italian hopping out of his car to greet me. Kean is rocking a New York Yankees beanie, a Primitive Tupac Shakur t-shirt, MARKET smiley face tie-dye joggers and Louis Vuitton LV skate sneakers in Marine White, colour-coded to perfection, confirming his renowned styling ability in an instant.
“Have you eaten?” Kean asks me as we enter his home. I respond that I have already, having visited a small Italian restaurant nearby for some pasta an hour prior. “Let me show you around,” he adds.
Around the house, Kean’s closest friends and family can be seen. “For me, family is everything,” the Vercelli-born baller tells me. “Around me, I have all my family. I don’t have new people or new friends, the people around me are just family. Family is so, so important.”
One of those people is close friend, Jonathan Sulaj. Sulaj, a semi-pro football player himself, is residing on the staircase that separates the living room from the second floor wearing a Juventus shirt graced with Kean’s name and number eighteen on the back. Despite the friendship dating back to their childhood, Sulaj jokes that he has to fight against the others in the house to get one of Kean’s match-worn shirts, making it no surprise that he’s wearing it with pride.
“If we go out in Turin, it’s game over,” Sulaj tells me on the occasions Kean is spotted by fans in the city. “The kids will come shouting ‘Moise! Moise!’. It can get so crazy we have to leave!”
Kean’s popularity amongst young football fans comes as no surprise. Yet to turn 23, he has already featured for Juventus, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain at club level whilst also representing his country with Italy, scoring four times in twelve occasions for the Azzurri.
“It’s a good thing,” Kean says on the trio of clubs he’s already featured for. “I try to see new things and play with big players. It’s a dream of everyone to play for the biggest clubs in the world. I’m lucky to have this opportunity to keep doing good.”
The journey to the biggest clubs in the world wasn’t simple for Kean, though. In a previous interview, his mother Isabelle revealed how her son hid that he had swapped school for football training for over a year to pursue his dreams against her advice, only revealing the truth after signing a professional deal with the Bianconeri.
“We had little money,” she told Tuttosport in 2019. “One day, Moise calls me on my way to work at 5.30am and says ‘Mum, I have a surprise’. I told him ‘No, don’t tell me you didn’t sign with Juventus’ and he replied ‘I did and starting today you will quit your job and live with me in Turin’.”
Taking Kean back to that moment, I ask him to describe the feeling he had delivering the news to such an important figure in his life. His eyes light up and a grin across his face follows. “It was so emotional telling my Mum I had signed with Juventus,” he says.
“I knew that was the big jump to do a lot of big things and have the things I’d always dreamed about since I was young. It was a very good but emotional moment for me.”
From his love of Meek Mill to his viral celebrations inspired by U.S. culture, there’s little room for comparison between Kean and any other player in football. The youngster brings his own unique vibe off the pitch that many of his peers both admire and attempt to replicate themselves. His Instagram feed sees each picture covered with a warm, grainy filter – which he tells me he edits himself – titled with captions of self-confidence and reminders to his doubters. In doing so, Kean has created a highly-engaged social following of young football fans eager to see what vibe he brings next, something he puts down to simply being himself.
“You need to be yourself all of the time in the small things and the big things,” Kean explains.
“When you’re at home and when you’re on the pitch. Keeping the same personality is important and most of all, being real with yourself. I think that’s basic. I think [being different] is something I’ve always had in my head. Everyone does the same thing a lot and sometimes it’s good to change and show people something new.”
Nothing represents this better than Kean’s style off the pitch. Straying far from the lane of copping designer brands and hype logos for flexing purposes, the most common item in his wardrobe is affordable vintage graphic t-shirts with designs ranging from old-school rap artists to the late Virgil Abloh, a piece he cherishes greatly.
“I buy what makes me feel good. I dress to catch the eyes of people and to be different,” Kean explains to me. “Some people dress because they see it’s Louis Vuitton and they need to take it because it’s Louis Vuitton, but I don’t really do that. I can wear the worst brands ever but I just try to make it look good.”
“In my wardrobe, I don’t have many brands. I just look at everything when I go into the shop and I take my time. When I’m shopping I take like two hours. Nobody needs to bother me,” Kean laughs. “I just want to stay there and go to all the shops.”
Though Kean is no stranger to self-expression, the rise of interest in fashion from players has accelerated rapidly in recent years. Players such as Jack Grealish and Kylian Mbappé have seen themselves earn huge ambassador deals for luxury fashion houses Gucci and Dior respectively whilst AC Milan’s partnership with Off-White broke the internet when the Rossoneri arrived at Stamford Bridge ahead of their Champions League clash with Chelsea wearing varsity jackets designed by the Milan-based brand.
“There was a time when everyone wore the same thing,” Kean says, reliving the early days of footballer fashion. “A Dior jacket, the tight Amiri jeans and even Louboutins. I was like ‘wait, everyone looks the same’. Nobody was showing themselves. But now it’s different.”
I quiz Kean to name any players in the game whose style he admires. “I like Héctor Bellerín, I really, really like how he dresses. After that, I was at Everton with Tom Davies and he is really different. He has his own world, you know? That’s good and I really like how he dresses. Serge Gnabry too, I almost forgot him!”
“At Juventus?” Kean says, firing my question back at me before pausing for a moment to think over the style of his teammates. “They’re different because they dress more Italian and classic, you know, how Italian people dress,” he smiles. “But I agree with that because it’s their type of tradition. They all have the same style and I can accept that.”
Whilst Juventus often arrive suited and booted before each game in the classic Italian style Kean has just described, Barcelona have taken a different approach to fixtures at the Camp Nou, allowing players to wear their own outfits in a similar fashion to the pre-game tunnel fits we see in the NBA. Barça defender Jules Koundé has become a highlight of this, regularly going big with each fit that has created huge fashion-driven conversation across social media and with Xavi’s side sitting at the top of La Liga at the time of writing, it has disproved the ideology of critics who believe players are not capable of holding an interest in fashion whilst maintaining full concentration on their careers.
“Oh wow, hell yeah! Yeah!” Kean responds when I ask if he’d like to see similar pre-game fits spread across all of football. “You need to make the player feel good, you need to make the player feel confident and when you do this type of thing, coming dressed the way you want, you get to represent yourself. All the time when you dress, you’re representing yourself and that’s what people need to see.”
Though pre-game fits haven’t made it to the Allianz Stadium just yet, Kean has found another way to represent himself – goal celebrations. From the ‘Woah’ to ‘The Griddy’ – both of which were introduced to football by Kean – clips of his celebrations regularly go viral on social media platforms where young people live, such as Instagram and TikTok.
Justin Jefferson, a wide receiver in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, first did The Griddy on the sporting stage whilst NBA and Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant is also known for dropping the dance move on the basketball court. Comparisons between Kean and Morant have been drawn by fans online and Kean admits his love for U.S. culture is what inspires his celebrations.
“I have a lot of players I like that play in the NFL and in the NBA. When I go on holiday there, to the U.S., they always do celebrations that are fun to do.” In regards to what his next celebration could entail, Kean isn’t one to tell. “I’m going to keep that one [The Griddy] for the moment”, he says with a smile. “But after? I don’t know. I won’t tell secrets and it needs to be a secret.”
In one of the rooms of Kean’s house lies a small studio set-up complete with LED lighting decorating the monitor and its surroundings. Naturally, I’m intrigued to hear his ability in music having already seen his talents in football and fashion. As expected, Kean is able to deliver on the mic. He plays me unreleased tracks made alongside his friends on his computer in which he can be heard rapping over beats in Italian. With little knowledge of the Italian language, I’m unsure exactly what bars Kean is laying but with the flow as cold as just about everything else he does, knowing what’s being said wasn’t necessary.
“My favourite rappers are Meek Mill and Kodak Black,” Kean tells me on his own music taste. “Right now, I’m more on Kodak. I really like and enjoy his music. My favourite album of all time? Wow… Bro, you have some hard questions,” Kean laughs again, struggling to nail his wide-ranging music taste down to just one title.
“Favourite album of all time…” repeats Kean, giving himself some extra thinking time. “Meek Mill – Championships,” he responds, later adding Bob Marley & The Wailers’ albums as a worthy second.
Almost eight hours after first meeting Kean, my time with him is drawing to a close. It’s approaching 10:30pm in Turin and I find myself around a table at a local Brazilian restaurant alongside Kean and his friends eating things I’ve never had the pleasure of eating before. Opposite our table, Kean’s favourite music videos are playing on a TV hanging from the wall with the likes of Migos and The Notorious B.I.G being heard before Ice Cube’s ‘It Was A Good Day’ begins to fill the room.
“If you don’t know this song, get out!” Kean jokes before asking everyone around the table one by one if they know the iconic track. Silently, I begin praying that my answer doesn’t require the title of the song which has slipped my mind in the moment of stuffing myself full with cooked Pineapple. Luckily for me, my ‘yeah of course’ response would earn me Kean’s seal of approval shortly before we came to the end of the meal.
In Kean, I was given first-hand evidence of an athlete who was the total opposite of what a young, elite-level 22-year-old footballer with financial freedom is stereotyped to be. In my last moments with him, Kean thanks the production team of myself, Shane and Jack – who are on photo and video – for our work and is happy to pose for a group photo. His interest if I had eaten just minutes after arriving at his house only furthered my opinion of him and if the aforementioned things weren’t enough, his gesture of inviting me to dinner alongside his friends – at no expense to me – in addition to the hours of his time he gave me certainly is.
A triple-threat with his ability in football, fashion and music, Moise Kean isn’t like any other footballer and he wants you to know it.
Photography By: Shane Bain
Styling By: Moise Kean himself
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