Ten days. That’s how long is left before the first whistle of the FIFA World Cup 2022. In a year where on-pitch style has been just as exciting as the sport itself, it’s hard not to let the mind wander; what will the world’s biggest football tournament have to offer the world of style?
Perhaps New Balance, Stone Island, and England striker Raheem Sterling could have the answers.
Catch your breath. As a football fan in 2022, you’ll need to. Between the Premier League, Champions League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1, things have always been hectic, but thanks to unforeseen delays, the 2022/23 season has been wall-to-wall.
Immense goal tallies aside, the season has delivered some of the best kits and collaborations that the game has ever seen.
From adidas’ extended contract with Arsenal to Kappa’s effortless work with Venezia and Athens Kallithea, Daily Paper’s two-piece collection with Ajax, and Off-White for AC Milan, 2022 has proven to be a masterclass in footy style.
So, where does the World Cup come into all of this? A tournament full of slick kits, both from Nike and adidas; this is the big stage, and everyone is expected to bring their best. Style included.
Keen eyes may well have spotted an interesting kit line-up for Dave’s annual Santan Cup last month. The kits, which featured a slick camouflage pattern, sported two emblems – New Balance and Stone Island.
It’s not unusual to see these two names side-by-side. Earlier this year, the pair came together to deliver the FuelCell RC Elite V2, a far cry from the 577 silhouettes they delivered back in 2013.
A collaboration that has been reserved for footwear, there’s no confirmation as to whether or not the kits are official; given Dave’s close affiliation with Stone Island, however, it’s highly likely.
Now, if it turns out that these kits are real, the lack of official information surrounding them is very peculiar, which begs the question; when will Stone Island and New Balance confirm or deny the authenticity of these pieces?
Well, where better than the World Cup? Showcasing a collaboration rooted in Stone Island’s close connection to footballing subcultural throughout the 80s, 90, and 2000s on the world stage would be a huge moment.
Sure, it’s great in theory, but all of the national kits, handled by Nike, adidas, and hummel, have already been revealed, and fashion-led kits are unheard of in international tournaments.
Perhaps, then, we’re not looking to the heart of football, to the feet that kick the ball about the pitch. Footballers’ boots are just as iconic as their kicks. You need only look at Zinedine Zidane’s infamous adidas Predator Absolute Boots for confirmation.
Maybe these co-branded kits were an indication of something bigger – a pair of boots strapped to the feet of a striker. A pair of New Balance and Stone Island boots knocking a ball in the back of the net, perhaps time and time again? Now that’s a moment.
Who would wear such a pair? While we might naturally assume an Italian striker, as per Stone Island’s home, the mysterious collaboration was spotted in the UK, on UK talent, and football’s love of Stone Island is at its strongest in the UK. The Three Lions it is, then.
While we await the official announcement of England’s Starting XI ahead of the World Cup, our best better is to look at the front three of the 2021 Euros. Kane, Sterling, Mount.
Of the three, only one is a New Balance athlete, and that’s Raheem Sterling. By the power of deduction, if Stone Island and New Balance are set to make a big impact at this year’s World Cup, it won’t be with a co-branded kit but a co-branded football boot on the feet of one of England’s best strikers, Raheem Sterling.
All we can do now is wait. So let’s all keep our eyes fixed on the feet of the players, especially Sterling when the tournament kicks off, shall we?