Every piece of clothing tells a story. The fabric, the materials, the design, all send a message from the maker.
At Guerrilla FC, our story, as we often repeat, is one of revolution and cultural change. For us, each piece is not created for simple commercial purposes but to elicit a feeling and spread a message. Of course, commercialization is part and parcel of this business - we are building a brand after all - but we strive to ensure our values always stand above our bottom line.
I’ve worked as a journalist for the last seven years. My job has been to tell other people’s stories. This requires a lot of listening, a lot of observing, and a lot of seeking to understand the world around me. I will never stop doing those things, but now I also want to tell my own stories. And Guerrilla FC is one of many vessels where I can.
Our latest kit collaborations with Umbro sends that message out into the world. Through writing this, I hope to communicate what that message is a bit clearer.
New kit releases are often viewed solely on platforms like Instagram. Responses take emoji form or that of a solitary word (dope, clean, fresh!). Instead of a disposable reaction, ideally, these kits would be a gateway to a deeper discussion of what a piece means and what it means to us. The philosopher Albert Camus said in his essay, Create Dangerously, “Every great work makes the human face more admirable and richer, and that is its whole secret.”
For us, this kit is an attempt to improve the human condition by focusing on the theme of revolution. This piece is an impetus to question why things are and if this is how things must be. Each detail speaks to that.
The use of the leaf pattern on the front allowed us to stay true to the camouflage base we’ve used in the past. The reflective and holographic leaves (for the Home Kit) and numbers (both) are not only a statement in that they’ve rarely, if ever, been used on a football kit before. They’re an experiment of what is possible on a football kit. You will never see this element mass produced on a shirt - it’s too expensive to produce. So why did we do this? Because we could. And it just so happened it also looked dope to us.
Our logo of the monkey in a Che Guevara-style beret is easily recognizable. The fact our badges are white-on-white actually makes that logo less visible. This is a signal to look closer. The imprint of our logo is still there in great detail but it’s the leather material that shows the quality of the product.
On the back, the Cyrillic font is definitely an aesthetic choice. The use of this font by brands like Gosha is a clear trend, but there’s also more to it for us. The World Cup in Russia is a clear connection this year, but we also want the Cyrillic to symbolize our complexity as a storytelling brand and football club while sending a political statement against the various human rights violations that the Russian regime commits. That’s not to excuse the vast history of American imperialism or the current administration either - Fuck Donald Trump.
The most important detail of the shirt though is perhaps the most understated. The 11 hashmarks on the sleeve represent the eleven years Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci spent in prison under the Italian fascist regime. That doesn’t mean our gang is a group of raging Marxists (is a group of Marxists called a gang, group...gaggle?).
For me, one of the central themes addressed in Gramsci’s writing was cultural hegemony. In simple terms: the forces that control the ideas that define our culture. Gramsci believed we needed more than just politics or new laws to change the world around us. We have to disrupt the ideas that shape us if we want to make a change in the culture at large. But what does that mean in the context of Guerrilla FC?
Our pieces - our kits, our other gear, our art, and even our football - is all a part of that culture. The stories we tell through our gear hope to expand the realm of what we can accomplish - not just on a kit but in life. Our pieces strive to disrupt. On a micro level, we seek to disrupt the corporate control over what a football kit is or should be. We seek to disrupt the line between football, fashion, creativity, and art.
A football kit won’t solve world hunger or reduce carbon emissions. But it can play its part in taking the mind to new arenas of thought. It can inspire us to think about how to build a better society and create a culture more focused on humanity.