Are fashionable stripes right for French footballers?
It’s the hottest and most talked about top in France. It’s a surprising and modern twist to the classic Breton shirt. But this time you won’t see it in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s spring showing.
To see the mariner-striped chemise that is flabbergasting the French you’ll need to watch Tuesday’s football friendly between France and Croatia. The sporting contest is the first opportunity for the French national squad to don its new away jersey: a white polo with no collar, elbow-length sleeves and neat horizontal navy-blue stripes.
It’s made by Nike, who stole away the right to dress French football stars from long-time sponsor Adidas. In 2008 the US sports gear godfather made a deal that the French Football Federation couldn’t refuse. Nike is dishing out a record 42.6 million euros per season to clothe the national team from 2011 to 2018.
In a preemptive strike, Nike and the France’s football bosses have made sure everyone hears how much coach Laurent Blanc likes the new jersey and how the new stripes capture France’s proud tradition. But it hasn’t stopped an army of dissenters who say America is literally buying up French identity, only to remake from the basest stereotype and sell it back to La République for a profit.
When you look at these images you have to wonder if they don’t have a point.
The striped shirts were made part of the French seaman’s uniform in 1858. Legend says the stripes made it easier to find a man who had fallen into the sea.
Nike probably wasn’t hoping to draw a comparison to a sinking ship, but the French team still needs saving after drowning its reputation with a disastrous display at last year’s World Cup in South Africa.