It has been said that a football team represents a way of being.
In France, this notion holds true. Les Bleus, as the country’s national team is colloquially known, are a vibrant representation of French sensibility. The team holds tradition and dynamism in equal esteem, and so do its fans. Need evidence? Just find footage of the 80,000 tricolore waving supporters who celebrated emerging star Kylian Mbappé’s first international goal (the cap to a 4-0 victory that positioned Les Bleus atop their qualifying group for Russia) on August 31, 2017. Within the moment, France’s strong tradition and brazen future coalesced — defining the contemporary culture of Les Bleus.
For 2018, the French Football Federation (FFF) collection draws from this cultural duality to celebrate an enduring symbol of national pride, the tricolore, with modern flare. “The way the French express patriotism is through the flag and we wanted to celebrate how the bleu, blanc and rouge brings people together,” explains Pete Hoppins, Nike Football Apparel Senior Design Director.
The articulation of the flag is filtered through another element of French convention: famously elegant style. On the home kit, which recreates the tricolor from head to toe, a sophisticated placket collar carries a button embossed with the national motto, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.” For Hoppins, the combination of colour and tailoring forms a “lethal elegance” befitting the current squad.
If the home kit is a direct celebration of the flag, the away kit serves as its deconstructed counter. At first glance, the shirt appears plain white. However, close inspection reveals a subtle red and blue hyper-speckle knit through the body. “We pushed the boundaries of knitting technology and unlocked the unique possibilities of yarns, colors and fabrics. The result is stunning,” says Hoppins.