Arsenal: Where We Belong

Photography: Elliot Hensford & Zek Snaps / Interview & Words: Anita Abayomi / Styling: Carlotta Constant, Assisted by Emilia Gayner

Arsenal Football Club and adidas have come together to showcase yet another 90s inspired retro football shirt. Following the famous Bruised Banana revival for their 2019/2020 campaign, adidas have decided to take it up a notch this season by drawing on inspiration from Arsenal’s 90s era in the creation of the new 2021/22 third jersey. 

To welcome in the start of another new season and to celebrate the first official outing of the new third jersey, we linked up with a creative cast of 90s born talent to find out how this new kit represents the true DNA of the North London club as we head into a new era and a new away day to Brentford FC on the opening day of the campaign.  

DJ Jordss, musicians Infamousizak, DC, Jay Prince and Frankie Stew as well as producer Nyge model their new vintage Arsenal gear with pride as we unpacked their thoughts about the new shirt and how it represents them and their own style ahead of the first game of the season. 

The vintage, 90s inspired look of the new third Kit is considered to be a true representation of the Arsenal fan base according to London DJ, Jordss. “Arsenal supporters are known for being the ‘swaggiest’ dons in London”. Referencing previous Arsenal kits including the infamous Bruised Banana collection, Jordss continues to praise Arsenal and adidas for their ability to continue to push the boundaries of jersey design. 

The unique blend of mixing old school with new school has led Arsenal to having the most sought-after jerseys when it comes to wearing the designs in a day-to-day context. “People do try to rock football shirts as swag. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But with Arsenal shirts, it always works.”

Though the fanbase may enjoy the look of this new kit, where there is diversity there is a difference in opinions; in this case, a difference in style. 

You may look to go with a safe casual option that musician Jay Prince looks to wear his new third kit with; “nice jeans with some nice trainers”. Or you may seek out a soft blue adidas tracksuit to compliment the multiple vibrant shades of blue as portrayed by music producer Nyge. One piece of advice that musician Frankie Stew gives is to keep it simple.

“I would simplify it”, Frankie tells us. “It’s quite a mad shirt, it’s very busy. Maybe wear something plain on the bottom”. Rapper, DC believes that you can wear anything with the new third kit. He would go with Combat trousers, or maybe some nice Jeans. “That’s the beauty of it,” DC explains, “It’s the best third kit that we have had. You can wear it anywhere and can wear almost anything with it. Maybe not a bright yellow though because that might look a bit wild.”

Being a 90s baby, the earliest memories as an Arsenal fan may come from later in the decade or in the early 2000’s. Whether you remember Tony Adams lifting the Premier League Trophy at Highbury in 1998 or Gilberto Silva becoming the first ever Arsenal player to score at the Emirates in 2006, the memories that come with being an Arsenal fan born in the 90s are priceless.

Frankie reminisces on his first ever match that he had attended at Highbury. He smiles as he sings the praises of Thierry Henry, “I remember coming to Highbury and we beat Middlesbrough 7-0. All Thierry Henry.”

In fact, all of our 90s born models relate their earliest memories of their football club to Theirry Henry. But can they see him in this new age vintage third kit? Rapper DC believes that Henry would undoubtedly look amazing in this shirt but would love to have seen it on Dennis Bergkamp. “I can imagine that he would probably style it differently to Henry. The French Arsenal players usually have their own style and with Bergkamp being from Holland, it would be interesting to see how he would pull it off.”

The main inspiration behind Arsenal’s new third kit is for the new generation of Arsenal fans to enjoy and build visions of the future. The design hinges on the authenticity of the 90s Arsenal away kits that were worn by legends such as David Seaman, Lee Dixon and of course Ian Wright. 

So, we asked what players come to mind when they see the new Arsenal third kit? It was no surprise that the first player mentioned by Nyge and Jay Prince was Ian Wright. Despite the shirt just simply looking like something Ian Wright may like to wear, Jay draws on the opinion that the vibe of this new kit is an exact reflection of the 90s era.

“It’s the Zig Zags for me. It screams of the Ian Wright era. It definitely gives a vintage, old school kind of vibe.”

Connecting the “old school vibe” with a new school look transcends the idea of simply being able to have a football shirt that can be worn with different outfits. It provides a true connection between the old and the new generation of Arsenal fans and players. It revives memories of old and collates them with the events of the present.

Whilst Nyge and Jay think of Ian Wright when they see this new shirt, Jordss, Infamousizak and Frankie Stew think of Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson. “Saka has that swag about him. There’s something about him wearing the shirt that makes it look good. Him and Reiss Nelson can definitely do it justice,” explains Infamousizak.

The depiction of players from the 90s era and players from the current squad being able to wear this new kit in their own unique style proves that any Arsenal fan can do the same. The shirt was tailored for that purpose, to create a sense of belonging and togetherness.

Despite finishing 8th in the Premier League last season, outside of any European football qualifying spots, being able to maintain a sense of togetherness is key to Arsenal fan, Frankie. Born and raised in Brighton, from a young age Frankie Stew could feel a special sense of belonging as a Gooner. “Wherever you’re from, you can be anywhere in the world and meet a group of Arsenal fans and it’s automatically a family feeling”.

The truth is, the 2021/2022 campaign comes off the back of a difficult period for all. The world has bravely faced its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic but it was not the only fight that needed attention. 

2020 brought several social issues that provoked questions towards many in high power. The world came together in the fight for equality for those who felt that they didn’t belong. This season, Arsenal has sent a message in all of their kits. The “Arsenal for Everyone” logo sits on the inside collar of the 2021/2022 jersey. It’s a message that the entire travelling team of fans believe is vital in order to continue to project the sense of belonging and togetherness that the club represents. Jordss emphasises, “It means football is moving forward and is becoming inclusive. It doesn’t matter if you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community, what race you are, what pronouns you use because football is for everyone. Arsenal have always been that club with a multicultural, diverse fanbase. They have always been forward thinking and that’s what I love about this logo and this jersey.”

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