by Jonathan Forgang
Former Liverpool Manager Bill Shankly said it best: "Someone said 'football is more important than life and death to you,' and I said, 'Listen, it's more important than that'." With the World Cup beginning today, the entire planet will watch as the best soccer players battle for world supremacy.
But you don't have to be of the diehard sort (ie: German or Englishman with noon bar-stool already reserved) to get into the spirit of things. Umbro by Kim Jones has released a special World Cup collection of polo shirts, hoodies, and windbreakers. The colorful line tweaks standard designs by taking visual cues from the classic '66 English team and coupling them with updated silhouettes and all-over prints and cool graphics. For that sophisticated "lover of the game" look, try one of the red versions with white stripes and '06 proudly printed on the back, just right for the pub or the pitch. Or go for the very proper English-rose-printed hoodie for a tad subtler style statement.
And what's a revolutionary to do during the surge of nationalistic pride? Fear not. You can always count on United Boroughs of New York Separatist Soccer League. UBNY was originally founded during the 2004 elections as a peace-loving separatist movement for New York City. Along with their penchant for overblown rhetoric they also happened to make men's clothing for aspiring Zapatista's and Mau Mau's on the Lower East Side. In honor of the World Cup they decided to give a voice to separatist movements around the globe, designing sportswear for non-sovereign nations Corsica (France), Lega Nord (Italy), Faeroe Islands (Denmark), Plaid Cymru (Wales/UK), and Sealand (UK). Inspired by soccer jerseys of the Great War era, the shirts are made of 100% Egyptian cotton and are adorned with breast patches representing each of the groups.
Game on: Not cheering from a stadium seat? NYC is toasting the World Cup, too. Highlights include England vs Sweden on June 20th, Italy vs the Czech Republic on June 22nd, and the ultimate match, Argentina vs the Netherlands on June 21st. German supporters, check out Loreley (7 Rivington Street, 212-253-7077) for proper snacks and optional suspenders. Germany opens the World Cup June 9th against Costa Rica. As for the English game, check out Fiddlestick's Pub (56 Greenwich Avenue) for $4 pints and some David Beckham action (on the football field, of course). If that doesn't strike your fancy, check out ChipShop (383 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn and 129 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn) for traditional bangers and mash or a Fried Mars Bar (we didn't say it would be healthy). And it wouldn't be the World Cup if not for the Brazilians as the menu is the team's main competition at Churrascaria Plataforma (316 West 49th Street, 212-245-0505).
The World Cup starts today, but the fever is already well underway. And for the fashion-minded, sometimes it's necessary to wear your allegiances on your sleeve.