One thing I loved about last year’s Adidas Capsule Collection was how closely each team’s attire hewed to the style of their city. It took a swing at something genuine and it more-or-less worked.
This year the Galaxy have ratcheted up that authenticity by joining forces with LA’s own UNDEFEATED. Friday was the collection’s unveiling and Corner was on hand to hear from both the players and the designer, along with taking a quick gander at the line.
I live a block from UNDEFEATED’s Silverlake location and they’re my go-to for sneakers. Angelenos tend toward a style that’s easier to deride than appreciate, but I love it — I love matching the perfect hoodie with a brightly-colored tee, just like I love the art of picking a pair of shoes to soundly round-out the ensemble.
But however much I love the LA look, James Bond loves it more. Not to be confused with the British spy, Bond is co-founder of UNDEFEATED — and if he were to star in a movie, he’d be closer to Steve Zissou than a double-O. Bond’s spent a good chunk of time figuring out what an LA soccer fan wants in their closet. I’m eager to see what he’s cooked up.
“For Los Angeles, soccer and fashion — it’s kind of hand-in-hand,” Bond tells me. We’re talking the crossroads between sports and identity, and he’s clearly thought about it more than me. “The guys I know who play soccer are interesting guys. They’re not your typical jocks. They’re a little more leeway.”
This is how Bond likes to design: he gets into the headspace of the folks who will actually wear his stuff, and he gets comfortable. “California-based, living in the beachside community, embodying what that spirit is,” he rattles off the traits of his target demo. “We designed something that would embody that. Something fleece, something easy to wear. Sweatpants, fleece shorts, a t-shirt. Kept it simple.”
You can sense his consideration throughout the collection. It’s thought-out, not over-thought; wrought, not overwrought. If I have any complaint, it’s that the pieces blend in too well.
On Saturday I’m wearing one of the shirts downtown — a black-on-black hoodie that simply reads “GALAXY,” the letters embossed with a reflective finish. It’s sharp yet understated. A passerby in the fabric district notices.
“Is that for the soccer team?”
Her name’s Zayra; it turns out she’s a fan. She stands with Angel City Brigade and, if she got off work on time, she was standing with them for the Vancouver game.
Zayra’s reaction strikes me as the perfect summary of the collection: stark enough to be noticed, but too subtle to be clearly the Galaxy.
I bump into Omar Gonzalez at the event — okay, you caught me, I bumped into him on purpose. In the promo material Omar’s been the face of this line, much like last year, and I can’t resist asking if he’s become the team’s resident fashionista. He’s got a good excuse: “With no David Beckham on our team, they’re looking for someone,” he jokes. “Maybe I’m the right guy, who knows. My name keeps getting called up.”
Gonzalez is a prime example of the audience UNDEFEATED is aiming for. “My favorite piece has to be the sweatpants,” Omar tells me. “I like to be relaxed, and so I think the sweatpants are more my speed.”
And like James, Gonzalez sees the collab with a local brand as key to getting LA fans on board. “Getting with a brand – especially UNDEFEATED – who has that underground feel, who people love to rock his shoes, his clothes. To be able to get a local brand from LA who people respect, it just speaks to Galaxy fans.”
I can’t resist the chance to ask James where he’d steer the Galaxy brand, if handed the reins. Does the design need a drastic shake-up? He mulls it over. “No — it’s like the Yankees uniform,” he tells me. “It’s classic, it’s simple. When I was looking through the archive I saw the original gold and green uniform, with the simple text. That’s what we focused on.”
But everything evolves, and James can’t resist a little speculation: “David [Beckham] brings so much to the table. When he came and they changed that crest, it was his identity, it was his team. I think you’d like to see them progress with the ideology of the new players.” James motions to the players in attendance — Omar, and A.J. DeLaGarza. “Maybe this is the start of something like that. You have two really strong players here tonight. They’re really into what we’re doing.”
I rifle through the clothing one last time, considering its strengths. Maybe the subtlety on display is a good thing. Bond has me thinking about the Yankees – iconic, recognized across the world, pervasive in New York along with everywhere else. There’s no way the LA Galaxy are on that level. Not yet. But, hey: “fake it till you make it,” right?
UNDEFEATED have more Galaxy-inspired pieces coming later in the year, and when I ask James about them he’s got the mischievous grin of a kid who can’t quite keep a secret. “We’re going to do something fun … closer to the playoffs,” he tells me. “More of a classic-soccer looking style, a little on the riot tip. Some beautiful cut-and-sew, with all-over prints so when you see a sea of them it kind of morays and glows. And it looks really good.”
That sounds right up my alley. The UNDEFEATED x LA GALAXY collection is out now. If you want something with a bit more flash, stay tuned.