The High Stakes of Manchester City’s C.P. Company Partnership

C.P. Company will become the new fashion partner of eight-time Premier League champions Manchester City for the 2024/25 season onwards, the company told BoF. City players will wear reworked versions of the Italian outerwear label’s clothing ahead of away games in the Champions League from next season onwards, as attention on football players’ pre-game “tunnel ‘fits” continues to increase.

The partnership, rumours of which began circulating in March, is somewhat of a full-circle moment for the Italian outerwear label. Its military-style clothing — such as its “goggle” jacket — was adopted en masse by the notorious English football fans of the 1980s and 1990s and became ingrained in British terrace subculture, along with other brands such as Stone Island and Burberry. This association with British football fandom saw its popularity spread to the extent that to this day, the UK remains the brand’s largest market, said chief executive Lorenzo Osti, son of C.P Company founder Massimo Osti.

C.P. Company has a long-running connection to English football fans after its clothing was adopted by fans on the terraces in the 1980s and '90s.
The brand has a unique pre-existing relationship with the city of Manchester and consumers in the north of England. (C.P. Company)

Decades later, this aesthetic has become coveted by fashion consumers and proponents of trends such as “blokecore” which merges the aesthetic of ‘80s and ‘90s football fans (predominantly working-class British “blokes”) — clothing such as Adidas terrace shoes and football jerseys — with fashion-friendly clothing techniques like tailoring. It’s a trend that has spread from independent designers like Martine Rose all the way to the industry’s largest luxury houses, and has led to several brands partnering with football teams or releasing football-inspired collections.

In Manchester City, C.P. Company will benefit from an association with one of the most high-profile teams in world football. The club was transformed into a global superpower after it was acquired by Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi Group in 2008, developing a global fanbase, acquiring other teams, winning eight Premier League titles and the Champions League and becoming one of the most recognisable brands in world football. Today, its squad is stacked with some of the world’s best footballing talent, including Norwegian forward Erling Haaland and English midfielder Phil Foden.

The partnership will help C.P. Company in its strategy to grow sales in Asia, Osti said, as Manchester City have one of the largest followings in the region of all Premier League clubs. The deal is also expected to help City grow the cultural appeal of its brand among football’s increasingly young and diverse fanbase, said Tom Boyle, vice president, global partnerships marketing and operations at City Football Group, the team’s parent company.

Both City and C.P. Company were conscious that their partnership appeared to fans as authentic. There has been growing criticism from sports-fashion consumers that collaborations in this space have become increasingly opportunistic as brands and teams look to make a quick buck by cashing in on the trend. Luckily for both, there appears to have been genuine excitement from fans about the collaboration coming to life since it was first leaked by British football media sites earlier this year — not least because the clothing Manchester City players wore before games under its previous deal with DSquared2 was at times criticised by fans and tabloid newspapers. In contrast, commentators drew attention to C.P. Company’s standing in the culture of Manchester — thanks to its history with football fans in the north of England — which has seen the brand become a streetwear staple in the city and worn by local icons like former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher and even Pep Guardiola, the current Manchester City manager.

“The connection to football culture has always been an important part of the brand and it was even these consumers who carried the business through harder times in the past,” Osti said.

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