What's the appeal of the blokecore fashion trend? Ask Rihanna - she's a fan

Rihanna at the Rolling Loud festival in Portugal in July wearing an oversized soccer shirt from a Balenciaga x Adidas collection. Together with fashion companies and social media, she is driving interest in a fashion look called blokecore.
PHOTO: Instagram

“Blokecore” is the latest fashion trend to sweep social media, and describes a look comprising a soccer jersey and a pair of jeans or shorts – think Liam and Noel Gallagher, of the English rock band Oasis, in the mid-1990s.

The website High Snobiety lived up to its name when it dismissed the fashion trend as “UK cosplay – as in, our friends in the States dressing up as the typical pub-to-stadium footy lads”. It is, however, more practical than typical social media trends .

“It’s summer, so everyone is out and about in soccer shorts and soccer jerseys,” says Lucas Shanks, the head of New York-based soccer gear curators Who The F*** Are Tens Club?.

“Functionally, that just makes sense. Also, it’s a [soccer] World Cup year , so there is a lot of momentum behind the sport and projects surrounding the spectacle this autumn. But mostly, it’s because jerseys and shorts are simple, casual pieces that can be easily styled into an everyday wardrobe.”

Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis are classic examples of blokecore.
PHOTO: Instagram

The look, which arguably never went out of style with some men, was revived in late 2021 thanks to TikTok. Videos related to blokecore have surpassed 100 million views on the video-sharing platform.

One video posted in December 2021 by @brandonlhuntly – credited with giving the look its name – sees him in a soccer jersey, jeans and Adidas Samba sneakers. Other TikTok users have followed in his footsteps, pairing their looks with a lager and UK music.

“Blokecore isn’t really a response to anything,” Shanks says. “It’s a funny phrase that helps categorise any outfit that incorporates vintage kits, shorts, Adidas Sambas/Gazelles and heritage European casuals brands.

“But it certainly builds off the democratised trends like workwear and vintage sportswear, and the celebration of the style of common people – in this case the blokes and the lads.”

A Stüssy x Paris Saint-Germain Nike soccer jersey.
PHOTO: Instagram

While there has been an increase in Google searches for the term, Shanks thinks that blokecore has already “peaked, valleyed and plateaued”.

“I don’t think it’s a movement, because the style existed long before the phrase spiked on social media and it will outlive the popularity of the term itself.

“At this point, it almost feels like a dwindling star of a popular meme, but the core tenets of blokecore – and the influence [soccer] has on fashion and style of fans and non-fans alike – will live on forever.”

A$AP Rocky wearing a customised soccer jersey in the D.M.B. music video.
PHOTO: Instagram
The shirt was customised by Phipps Gold Label.
PHOTO: Instagram

The influence of soccer on fashion is long-standing and is having a moment again, as part of a ’90s renaissance.

Influencers and celebrities are getting in on the trend, too. Rapper A$AP Rocky wears a Manchester United shirt, with “Cantona 7” on the back, in the music video for his song D.M.B. That shirt, from the English club’s 1996-97 season, was embellished by Paris-based Phipps Gold Label with zips and studs, putting the upcycled piece at €1,350 (US$1,370).

Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis with fellow band members in the 1990s.
PHOTO: Instagram

Not all vintage shirts are created equal. The shirt worn by Argentinian soccer player Diego Maradona when he played against England at the 1986 Fifa World Cup – and when he scored his infamous “Hand of God” goal – recently sold for a record-breaking £7 million (US$8.4 million) at auction.

A$AP Rocky’s partner, Rihanna, was spotted at hip hop music festival Rolling Loud in Portugal this month in an oversized shirt from the Balenciaga x Adidas collection. The singer also wore a Martine Rose soccer shirt as a minidress in New York in January.

Blokecore basics are not new to fashion houses or trendsetters. Balenciaga released a soccer jersey in 2020, soccer shirts could be seen at Milan Fashion Week in 2018 – another World Cup year – and rapper Drake has sported classic tops from the Italian Serie A side Juventus as far back as 2016.

Rihanna wearing an oversized soccer shirt from the recent Balenciaga x Adidas collection.
PHOTO: Instagram

Rapper and producer Tyler, the Creator wore a Barcelona shirt at the Glastonbury music festival in 2013, and rapper Snoop Dogg has worn several different team shirts over the years. Italian fashion company Slam Jam recently used British rapper Unknown T to help unveil its recent reimagining of the AC Milan 1995-96 jersey.

Collaboration has been key in keeping soccer shirts evergreen. Sportswear brand Umbro joined forces with UK skate wear brand Palace all the way back in 2012 and has just launched a collaboration with Supreme.

Russian streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy collaborated with Adidas for soccer shirts long before Balenciaga did the same, while Virgil Abloh’s Off-White label worked with Nike for its “Mon Amour” soccer collection. The trend came full circle when Palace joined forces with Adidas to create a kit for Juventus to wear in a Serie A match against Genoa in 2019. The jerseys sold out online.

Palace joined forces with Adidas to create a kit for Juventus to wear in 2019.
PHOTO: Instagram
A reimagined soccer jersey from streetwear label Palace.
PHOTO: Instagram

US lifestyle brand Aimé Leon Dore and Palace have soccer shirts out this season, and a look at fashion websites such as Farfetch shows labels like Sankuanz and Ahluwahlia reimagining shirt designs – for high-fashion prices. New brands such as Fustol, co-founded by sports apparel entrepreneur Luke Scheybeler, are also emerging.

“We’ve seen enough Instagram carousels of the same photos of celebrities in kits,” Shanks says. “Blokecore is a casual sportswear style trend by and for the people, and therefore it belongs to the people.

“I don’t think any celebrities or current players do blokecore better than your average person on the street rocking Sambas to work, a pair of soccer shorts out on the weekends or running errands, or a vintage kit to a party.”

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.