If you’ve been on TikTok this summer or even walked the streets of Toronto, odds are you’ve seen people wearing vintage football (soccer) jerseys with some baggy or straight-cut denim and some type of classic Adidas sneaker. Whether those are Samba’s or Spezial’s, it’s really up to the person’s preference.
The trend has been around for years in some sort of shape or form. But this summer, the fad blew up and was aptly named “Blokecore” as a playful mockery of British football fans. Brandon Huntley, a 23-year-old from North Carolina, has been credited by most for starting the trend. However, the Blokecore gene pool has lived in the blood of many football fans across the pond.
In the early ’60s, spirited football fans often travelled from the U.K. to watch their team play fixtures against some of the continent’s top sides, including teams from Spain, Italy and France. While away, fans would score on local designer clothing, which was prevalent to the people around them but less heard of back home.
Once they got home, these blokes were seen sporting brands like Stone Island, C.P. Company and Sergio Tacchini. Instantly, these brands, Stone Island in particular, were associated with die-hard football fans who sometimes resorted to “hooliganism” in extreme circumstances.
In 2022, this trend has shown up in a different, less violent light. Josh Roter is the owner of In Vintage We Trust, a local vintage clothing store. Roter has an affinity for retro sportswear, football shirts included.
“Blokecore means something to me because it’s an authentic expression and fashion trend because of its roots. The fact that North American consumers have recently tapped into a long-standing European way of dressing might be new here but has been a staple for many, many years,” Roter says.
Like many, Roter sees a negative side to the recent trend. While people in North America see clubs as good or bad, Roter described the severity of football rivalries in the same context as gang violence.
“Soccer culture in Europe is unlike sports culture in maybe any other part of the world, it’s life and death sometimes. Wearing a jersey in the wrong part of England would be similar to wearing gang colours in North America; it’s really that real. It’s generational fandom, and I’m not sure anything really compares to it in North America,” he says.
Every trend has its benefits. Outside of the inherent fashionable nature of football jerseys, there seems to be an upwards trend in football popularity among Canadians. “More people being put on to the sport of soccer is refreshing here. Maybe a combination of Canada’s national team popping as well has added to more eyes being on soccer kits,” Roter says.
While Roter finds similarities with Polo Ralph Lauren in New York and footy jerseys in the UK, the younger crowd are getting behind Blokecore for similar reasons. Local alternative musician Paolo Laicini finds comfort in Blokecore. Born and raised in an Italian home, Laicini found himself playing soccer.
Laicini says, “I grew up with Ed Hardy and True Religion. You know what I mean? Soccer jerseys, Adidas track pants and trainers was just a part of the look. It was no different than what we wore day to day.” For him and many others, Blokecore is more than just a trend. It’s a lifestyle.
“The reason why I’m fond of this stuff is because I’m so familiar with it. I grew up wearing it. I’ve always thought it was really cool and still do now. Find me a 04’05 Bayern (Munich) kit, and I’m set.”
Today, Blokecore is a stylish fashion trend that is easy to be a part of. Head over to your local vintage shop, get yourself a fashionable football shirt, some jeans that are a bit baggy and a few pairs of slightly beat Adidas trainers and you’re set.
The style that used to be so rich in history can now be attained in one round trip to your local shop.