There are few occassions where my two passions, Arsenal and menswear, collide. Despite being well designed and showcasing the very latest in fabric design, football shirts should not be considered as anything more than football shirts. In fact, I've often revelled in keeping them seperate and only those of you who follow my personal twitter ramblings will realise just how obsessed I am by the red and white half of North London. However, this year marks the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of Arsenal and to honour this landmark, their kit sponsor Nike reimagined one of their own most iconic pieces, the NSW Destroyer jacket. In a combination of tradition and modern motifs, the sportswear giant created an ideal jacket for the terraces. Packed full of detailing that celebrate the history of the club it is a truly special anniversary item. Thanks to the generous folk at Nike I have one of the limited editions jacket, which I tried on for size whilst walking the short distance down the road to the relatively new home of Arsenal, the Emirates.
Now that my mind is buzzing with memories of being an Arsenal fan, I'm reminded that there was a time when I hated football. My Dad would try in vain to tempt me to watch George Graham's Arsenal grind out results but I preferred to play with my Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles in my tiny box room. On any given match day I wanted to be far away from the nervous atmosphere of the living room as he would pace up and down the thick brown carpet (it was the 80s afterall) muttering obscenities mixed in with player's names and commentator back talk. As a toddler I just could not understand this religion cloaked in red and white and how it had such control over the mood of the house.
Proudly wearing my first full Arsenal kit alongside my best friend Stephen Love.
However, one day this fog of confusion was lifted. I cannot recall the exact instant but I can remember a particular moment in 1989. The living room was tense after a long tight season, Arsenal were away at Anfield and we were about to snatch the title at the very last minute. Even now I can hear my Dad screaming "Shoot...shoooooot" the moment Michael Thomas picked up the ball from Alan Smith's delicate dink. In an instant, fear, frustration and agony were replaced with relief, elation and sheer delight. The sight and sound of my Dad in the throws of football ecstacy could well have been the moment I too fell in love with the game.
I'm not sure what I'm doing here, I'm either exicted to be wearing the kit or in desperate need of the loo.
However, it was upon my first visit to Highbury that I fully understood the allure of the Gunners. Despite watching Arsenal lose one nil in a terribly dull ninety minutes against Blackburn, I was hooked on the match day ritual. The drive to London, the pre-game drink and meet up, the carnival like march to the stadium, the collective chorus of the fans, the fact that nothing else matters in that hour and a half. In the years that have followed I have been seduced by the sweat and tears that surely follow The Arsenal. From the machine like defence honed by Graham, to Bruce Rioch marking a new dawn with the signing of Bergkamp through to Wenger's entertaining invincibles I've followed it all with beating heart and open mouth. Adams, Wright, Limpar, Pires, Henry, Vieira have all been idolised only to be replaced by a new breed as the next incarnation of greatness lac up their boots and step out on to the hallowed turf. Much to the frustation of friends and family, the game has made and broken many a weekend ever since and will no doubt continue to do so ever more. Come on you reds...
Trying on the limited edition NSW Jacket on for size outside of Arsenal's home, the Emirates. Teamed up the special jacket with a breton top by Le Minor, chinos by Dockers and my well worn Kudu boots from Lodger.
Emblazoned across the chest is a felt and leather ‘A’ applique taken from the old AFC crest.
The right wrist features an embroidered AFC graphic referencing the initialled monogram badge originally only worn for high-profile matches
One of my favourite details. Satin stiched to the the left sleeve are leather appliques of historic Arsenal Football Club crests. The one pictured here is the first one I kissed back when I first fell in love with the club.
How many teams have a latin motto? Arsenal's very own 'Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (Victory grows out of harmony) is worn proudly on the right sleeve
The ghosts of Ted Drake, Herbert Chapman, David Rocastle and so many more are sewn in to the very seams of this jacket. Similarly, the greats of Arsenal surround the stadium. Here I am in front of the 'oh so dreamy' Bobby Pires.