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Re-imagining football’s more open future

Two figures wearing blue garments in ombre background
Two figures wearing blue garments in ombre background
The Player and The Fan, The Digital Stadium, BA Fashion and BA Fashion Communication x Three
Written by
Teleri Lloyd-Jones
Published date
06 April 2021

Three and Chelsea Football Club challenged students from BA Fashion and BA Fashion Communication to re-imagine football for a more connected, open and democratic age. The winning student team built The Digital Stadium – a virtual experience that celebrates the final nail-biting moments of a game.

The Digital Stadium includes not only a series of looks – across The Player, The Goalkeeper and The Fan ­– but an epic world in which to they sit. It begins with a glowing pitch set in a shifting landscape as The Player stands isolated with a football at their feet. We then move to a cityscape, a network of architectural space with The Fan standing near a neon sign glowing “One Life, One Love, One Club”. The final moments belong to The Goalkeeper, a figure silhouetted against billowing nets casting a futuristic world. References abound, from The Player’s crystal halo and The Goalkeeper’s armour to Chelsea FC’s rose and the red of the Chelsea Pensioners.

The Digital Stadium

Speaking to Jermine Chua (BA Fashion Communication: Fashion Communication and Promotion), Aminat Seriki (BA Fashion: Fashion Design and Marketing) and Christopher De La Cruz (BA Fashion: Fashion Design with Knitwear), they’re first to admit not being football fans. Bringing an outsider perspective to an insider experience, as well as working in a large team, encouraged a self-reflective approach:

I was challenged with a brief that I didn’t feel confident in at first and I was in a group with people I’ve never worked with before, So I needed to adjust... I discovered space that I didn’t know existed

— Christopher De La Cruz

Comprising ten students, the group’s talents were broad and each focused on a specific look or component. Dividing the project into archetypes of player, goalkeeper and fan allowed individuals to play to their strengths. “There are two sides to responding to a brief,” explains Aminat, “At the end of the day, you’re creating clothes for your client so you want to satisfy them in some way. But we also wanted to push that and make sure each of our pieces embodies our own perspective.”

While the BA Fashion students were creating their looks, it was the role of the BA Fashion Communication students (Jermine with Arisa Takada and Dominik Slowik) to build the world. At the fashion studios and later in lockdown, they remained updated with the development of the garments to help weave references into the virtual design.

Though the trio hadn’t created such a rich digital space before they pushed and pushed their skills to match their ambition. “We were struggling as this was the first time that we’d done it, “recalls Jermine, “The technicians told us it might be impossible but we were persistent and knew that it could be done. We kept trying, wanting to prove not just to the client but to ourselves that we could do it.”

The virtual component of The Digital Stadium enriches the garments and their meaning. Along with Instagram filters and an online accessories store, the digital elements of the project open up the fan community to a broader audience, connecting them through their shared emotion and, crucially, embracing their difference too. The Digital Stadium communicates that difference by rethinking what a player, a fan – or indeed a football pitch – should look like:

One of our team shared his experience with us. As a kid he wanted to play football but was excluded from that community. That was the seat of our ideas, that’s why casting was so important. The player needed to be not a typical straight male, it has to be diverse. That’s how we want to discuss football.

— Jermine Chua

The Digital Stadium

Video: Jermine Chua, Arisa Takada and Dominik Slowik
Sound Design: Thomas Graham
Photography: Jermine Chua
Designers: Sofia Castellon, Christopher De La Cruz, Danny Kozyrev, Aminat Seriki, Stella Satie Grevele, Kana Takahashi and Joel Lines
HMUA: Go Fujiwara
Models: Tuuli Turunen, Maya Bosman, Siuhei Chung, Susan Reby and Dylan Nappah

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