How did SEASON get started?
Deep down, I think I always wanted to launch some kind of publication ever since I discovered ELLE and Vogue aged 14. And the first inkling I had that I could combine my two main interests, fashion and football, to make a creative editorial magazine was The Green Soccer Journal. I interned there and found overall that, as wonderful as modern football coverage is, it’s very male-orientated and sometimes lacking diversity.
Female fans (and players) are overlooked or underrepresented or if you google ‘female football fan’, sexualised without a voice. Bearing in mind 33% or 7.7 million UK football fans are women according to Kantar Media and the FA believe 11.8 million girls and women play football in the UK.
Over the course of my career, I’ve met creative women like me who were also into football and fashion and realised there was nothing celebrating, targeting and expressing our opinions.
It felt like a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and only one type of female fan was being showcased which didn’t reflect me or any of the women I knew. So, I wanted to change that and the narrative and fill a gap by documenting and celebrating female fandom.
You could also say that SEASON is an extension of my final thesis I wrote for my Central Saint Martins FHT degree. I focused on footballers, suits and metrosexuality – specifically David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Mario Balotelli – after coming across a brilliant book: ‘The Fashion of Football’ by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter. It chronicles the connection between fashion and men’s football from the 1960s until the early ‘00s but there were no women in it so I wanted to address that and highlight contemporary crossovers.
Spurred on by this, a new wave of exciting independent football publications and a desire to draw upon football’s rich history of fan-made publications and collecting stickers, SEASON was born.
Issue 01 came out in May 2016 after a year of pitching the idea and actually making it around my full time job. After meeting SEASON’s first designer Natalie Doto, I found all the talent and other collaborators through word of mouth, Instagram and online.
The aim is to showcase and empower women in modern football culture creatively by giving them a honest voice and sharing their stories, opinions and style. To be playful and intelligent about making women more visible. We want to dispel stereotypes, emphasise diversity and raise awareness about issues that need to change like sexism and homophobia.
SEASON spotlights rising creatives by collaborating with them and as it can be quite lonely being a female football fan, we want to build an inclusive and empowering community where fans can engage, debate, connect and network.
Were you surprised by the response?
Massively! I started thinking there would only be one issue but we’re now working on issue 05! It’s been unexpected and amazing. We’re now stocked in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia and we’ve had website orders from as far flung as New Zealand.
Multiple women from around the world have reached out by email or Instagram to share lovely words and their thoughts about it and I’m eternally humbled by it all. Testimonials like this one from @amymschmalz: “It’s like a stranger in London read my mind! There’s a beautiful zine for stylish, smart ladies that are also mad into soccer. You are a goddess @feliciapennant ! Thank you for creating @season_zine and getting our voices heard. ⚽️❤️#TheFemaleFan” let me know that my instincts were right and all the hard work, stress and sleepless nights are worth it.
One Dad bought it for his daughter because he liked the message and hoped it would empower her. We’ve also been used as an educational resource and cultural record about female fans and women in football by The National Football Museum – which was one of many pinch me moments. Others include being featured on websites I adore like I-D, It’s Nice That and The Fader; ASOS interviewing the team for their ‘We Not Me’ feature in the Summer 2017 print magazine; and being stocked at my favourite Paris concept store Colette (so sad it’s closed now).
It’s always amazing to see so many people turn up to and support our events as there are many more fascinating women and timely topics than we can fit in the zine. The pub quiz we did to launch issue 04 back in November was such a lovely night and so rammed!
What do you think about the identity of women in the game?
That damaging and limited stereotypes, patronising pink club merchandise at best then tomboy, lesbian, daddy’s girl, boyfriend pleaser/WAG wannabe, perv, are being dispelled. More and more women are bring empowered to express and celebrate their fandom, play the game, fight against sexism and other issues, and launch their own projects. Beside SEASON, Girlfans, This Fan Girl and creative football collective Romance FC are exciting initiatives that have the same ethos: to celebrate and represent the passion and diversity of female fans creatively while making them more visible.
The ’female football fan’ google search looks much better and diverse now.There’s no denying that the Lionesses have been more successful than the men’s England team in recent years (coming third place in the 2015 Women’s World Cup) and are more visible due to increased press coverage which has helped as well.
How would you describe the crossover between football and fashion?
Well firstly there is a distinction between fashion and style. The latter being, in my opinion, how you wear and put things together, whereas fashion is more trend-led and cyclic and dictated by certain people.
These days there are so many contemporary crossovers and cult collaborations. Unveiling new season kit has become a big production – props to Spurs for including female models in theirs – and footballers are modelling and designing fashion themselves e.g. the sick red Nike Air Max 97 CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo gifted Marcus Rashford recently.
I’m sure you’ve seen David Beckham and Neymar Jr out and about at Fashion Week. Brands are now referencing football culture in a big way too like Gosha Rubchinskiy x Adidas Football, Virgil Abloh x Nike Football and even football scarves at Urban Outfitters.
Contrary to popular belief, there is always at least one football reference every fashion month which demonstrates football’s far-reaching cultural impact. Did you see Koché’s amazing PSG collab? The designer Christelle Kocher has created incredible patchwork dresses and tracksuits for SS18 and PF18.
Which sports brand do you think is tackling this best?
Well both Adidas and Nike have brought in blockbuster fashion names to collaborate with, Puma has Rihanna (check out her AW17 collection and the reinvented football shirts in that) and Hummel have made kits with hijab. Every brand is doing their own thing and it’s totally subjective. What I personally look for is authenticity and great design.
How important do you think creativity is in the game?
It’s important because it’s what sets football coverage and content apart for me . Creating a platform for women to connect and express their opinions about football and fashion in a traditionally male space, that seems to be resonating, is an awesome feeling. The great thing about being independent is that you can experiment freely and collaborate with exciting emerging talent.
SEASON has definitely evolved creatively, into an independent platform that champions female fashion fans first and spans biannual print issues with original football sticker sets, events and online content. Issue 04, designed by Nathan Matthews, was our biggest and most colourful issue yet with 94 pages, a spine rather than staples, two standout editorials and fascinating interviews and features. Issue 05 will be out pre World Cup and it’s another step up.
What do you have planned moving forward?
Issue 05 and 06 this year ideally, exciting events and online content, maybe some merch. Ultimately, to be a global platform and and a creative destination that aids gender equality in football and illustrates that female fans and players deserve coverage, visibility and cutting-edge products too. Follow us on @season_zine and check out our website season-zine.com to see what we’re up to.
Lead Pic: @tomjohnsonstudiocreatorslondon