It's Official: Wearing Football Shirts Is Cool Again

Would James Rodriguez's kind eyes lie to you?

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In the marketing stills for adidas' latest range of World Cup football kits, an important and usually ubiquitous element is missing from practically every shot: an actual football pitch.

We've got James Rodriguez, the warm-eyed icon on whose hairless calves rest 48 million Colombian hopes (quarters, realistically) captured against the 'gritty' backdrop of steel roller shutter doors in his nation's new Tricolor shirt; its jagged retro side panels a love letter to the bold and billowing wearable masterpieces of Carlos Valderrama yesteryear fame.

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But that's just the start.

We then move on to Germany's Thomas Muller beaming against a steel blue, extremely unfootball pitch backdrop; Mexico's Hugo Ayala in sharp focus, a chainlink fence and Mexico City dusk behind him. Then there's Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi larking about in an underground carpark somewhere beneath Ghent, the Argyle print of their new Belgian Red Devils shirt the centrepiece.

The only person who is remotely near a football pitch is Alvaro Morata, and even then it's a speck in the distance compared to the aggressive amalgam stripe of Spain's new home shirt.

Where football kit campaigns of World Cups past were all about the materials: the ClimaCool, Dri-Fit, Tech-Fit, the heat, sweat and wallet-absorption qualities of TECHNOLOGY, adidas' tact this year is to tap into our deep reservoirs of football nostalgia, as well as capitalising on the game's recently-acquired cool status amongst the fashion set.

Propelled by Gosha Rubchinskiy, the Russian designer whose inspiration is borrowed from the harsh Eastern lines of the Soviet Union, with its oversized tracksuits, cold stares and original Trefoil football shirts in heavy, patterned polyester, you're now as likely to see football gear on a Paris Fashion Week blogger as you are on a 43-year-old bloke who likes to shout at people and compromise his blood pressure for fun on the weekend.

Four years ago wearing a football shirt wasn't cool, now it's becoming quite the opposite.

A model wearing Gosha Rubchinskiy and adidas' collaborative football shirt, which retails at £160... if you can get your hands on one.

One of the most refreshing elements of adidas' Russia '18 collection is the way that each design feels individually made for the country in question, whether it's the overt reference to West Germany's triumphant 1990 campaign on the new Germany shirt or the fine dot detailing on the Japan strip that we can almost guarantee Drake has already pre-ordered (if Drake does that sort of thing). Each shirt feels like a unique piece of work and one that would - dare we say it - actually look quite cool worn away from a football pitch. Hence the roller shutter doors and grainy fashion photography.

Having already commented on the era of the boring football kit, with its 'minimalist' legacy of generic templates that feel purposefully ephemeral, designed to last no more than the year they're intended for (Arsenal '13: what does it look like?), it's about time a brand made some modern football kit with a bit of swagger and identity to them.

You can imagine, 20 years from now, at a house party somewhere north of Watford, a couple of wide-eyed Cool Teens drinking warm Red Stripe rocking Mexico, Colombia or Russia '18 shirts in the same way they do that France '98 strip now.

It's not often that memorable modern football shirts come around. It just so happens that adidas has released a load of them all at once.

Your move, Nike.