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CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON: As Sepp founder Markus Ebner noted, finding a niche for an independent magazine is tricky, especially one published only every two years in sync with the Euro or World Cup. But that hasn’t stopped the indie publisher’s Sepp Football Fashion.
Named after Sepp Herberger, the player who pulled off Germany’s first World Cup victory in the Miracle of Bern in 1954, the magazine is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. The sixth issue, with a circulation of 25,000 and cover price of 8 euros, or $10 at current exchange, hit international newsstands and select fashion stores just in time for the first UEFA Euro 2012 game in Warsaw on Friday.
For those who think the soccer-style connection is a precarious match, Ebner said the last decade has shown otherwise. Whereas few designers (save Giorgio Armani, who early on dressed star players David Beckham and David James) or Dirk Bikkembergs were into football-plus-fashion 10 years ago, now it’s normal front-row business.
“It’s gone from a niche segment to mass,” Ebner said. “Footballers look at the fashion industry and would love to get contracts, and vice versa. Zegna dresses football players for FIFA’s Ballon D’Or, Armani not only made the Beckham jacket but dresses Chelsea and Domenico Dolce’s office just sent pictures of 60 footballers with which Dolce wants to launch his career as a photographer. Sport style is now part of the repertoire of fashion designers, who are aware of it and use it.”
Sepp’s customary designer football jersey shoot is a good example. “We’ve been doing this from the start, but whereas we used to get T-shirts perhaps sporting a designer logo and saying World Cup, they’re all now applying their designer skills to football jerseys,” said Ebner.
Like Lanvin’s Lady Football Club double-layer chiffon tank for her or dark block-striped crew for him, Marni’s graphics does a candy “M” top for the women’s team and multitextured rendition for the men, No. 21 by Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s voluminous satin sweatshirt or Antonio Marras’ painterly male version. Versace, Gucci, Emporio Armani EA7, Giambattista Valli, Roberto Cavalli, Sonia Rykiel and Paul Smith were among the other designers whose jersey styles were photographed by Horst Diekgerdes, the women’s looks all worn by Russian model Anna Selezneva.
Indeed, reflecting the upcoming tournament’s Eastern European setting, Selezneva graces one of the magazine’s dual covers (German national team star and Real Madrid player Mesut Özil rules the other). And lest we forget Yulia Tymoshenko’s plight in Euro co-host nation Ukraine, her hair is braided — as a sign of support — in the former prime minister’s signature style. As for the second host nation, Sepp is positively enamoured with Poland, Maciek Kobielski’s “Dream of Warsaw” not only toasting the country’s nascent beauties and future footballers, but also the city of Warsaw, where the Euro kicks off.
For a surprising top note, Karl Lagerfeld’s fifth collaboration with Sepp saw the designer taking on athletic hair obsessions over the years. The illustrative upshot: “Fashion has changed but long hair is back,” he insists.