Culture

a football zine for fans who just so happen to be women

SEASON zine knows the score.

Matthew Whitehouse

Photography Claire Pepper

It feels fairly ludicrous to still be writing this in 2016 but women like football. And no they don't need the rules mansplaining, no they're not trying to impress a bloke and no they don't just fancy the players or managers (apart from Joachim Löw who, let's face it, we all fancy).

The football industry as a whole is and always has been a fairly masculine environment. Yet, when the England women's team reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2015 - a feat not achieved by their male counterparts for 25 years - it was like a corner (flag) had been turned. Fans of gender discrimination everywhere were suddenly faced with the undeniable truth that women were simply a lot better at football than men. Sure, a stoppage time own goal would deny them ultimate World Cup glory but, as a wave of support swept the nation, it felt as though a playing field had gone some way as to being levelled. The beautiful game was different now and there was nothing inferior about that Carli Lloyd hat-trick.

High time for a zine aimed squarely at the female fan then (or rather fans who just so happen to be female). While SEASON isn't about women's football per se - issue one is dedicated to The Female Fan and focuses particularly on the English Premier League, 25% of attending supporters at which are female - it is a magazine for those who recognise the game is one of two sexes (as well as two halves). Brainchild of Chelsea fan-cum-editor Felicia Pennant, SEASON pitches itself as a cross between a fashion mag and a football zine, and a cursory glance at any modern player's label-indebted Instagram will tell you that that is angle fervent for exploration. Featuring interviews with FKA twigs' make-up artist, British Vogue's Verity Parker and Jacqui McAssey, who used fashion to support the 'Don't Buy the Sun' and Hillsborough campaigns, SEASON is, quite simply, on the ball.

"Women like me who are into fashion and football are more common than you'd think," says Felicia. "We are often overlooked or sexualised in the football landscape so I wanted to document and celebrate female fandom creatively." Have a read of her full chat with i-D below.

Photography Emily Rose

Hello Felicia. What's SEASON zine all about then?
SEASON zine is a cross between a fashion magazine and a football zine that reveals the experiences and rituals of fashion and football fans. There is nothing currently celebrating and expressing the opinions of fashion-conscious female fans of the game specifically so the first issue is dedicated to us. Women who enjoy fashion and football are championed via interviews with FKA twigs' make-up artist Naoko Scintu, British Vogue's Associate Fashion Editor Verity Parker, Liverpool FC fans menswear designer Kayleigh Walmsley and Girlfans zine maker Jacqui McAssey, who used fashion to support the 'Don't Buy The Sun' and Hillsborough campaigns. There are also candid 'Daddy's Girls' essays, features, an editorial and more. Each copy comes with a set of collectable stickers, based on contributors' favourite players and manager, which can be stuck throughout.

Where did the idea come from?
I feel that, as wonderful as modern football coverage is, it all seems largely male-orientated. I had the specific idea for SEASON zine about a year ago but I'd been thinking about doing something that combined my main interests since writing my final year thesis at Central Saint Martins three years ago. It was about football, menswear and metrosexuality and I came across a brilliant book The Fashion of Football by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter which explores the connection between fashion and men's football from the 1960s until the early '00s. I wanted to pick up where it left off, with a female focus instead, by revamping football's rich history of fan-made publications and collecting stickers. Fashion and football influence each other and share the same term for time: SEASON (hence the zine's name). Women like me who are into fashion and football are more common than you'd think but we are often overlooked or sexualised in the football landscape. I wanted to change that.

Photography Claire Pepper

When did you first get into the game?
Euro 2004. I was 12 and bored that summer. I really got into the tournament and followed hosts Portugal all the way to the final. After they lost it, the sight of 19 year old Cristiano Ronaldo crying on the pitch intrigued me further. All the euphoric highs and lows, the drama of it all and the sense of community lured me in and I became a Chelsea FC fan just like my Dad. That was also the summer Jose 'The Special One' Mourinho first rocked up at Stamford Bridge with a cocky opening smile and instant trophy success - of course I was hooked!

When did you first become aware of sexism within it?
The way WAGs are reduced to their looks in the press, particularly during the 2006 World Cup, gave me an inkling. I have been to the pub to watch the match and been 'tested' on the offside rule and my team by men there. They couldn't comprehend that a girl could be just as into football as they were. I wanted 'The Offside Rule' spread in the issue, with official and unofficial definitions, to emphasise that. The Sian Massey-Ellis and Eva Carneiro incidents are still fresh in the memory but they are very rare.

Design, Natalie Doto

Why are female supporters still so often dismissed?
Because football is perceived to be a male sport and the majority of players, staff, press and fans are men. This could be reduced to a simple case of supply and demand, but that doesn't quite add up any more as a record 26% of people attending league matches in the 2014/15 season were women, according to the Premier League. Women's football is growing off the back of the England team's amazing third-placed finish at the Women's World Cup last year but you wouldn't know that judging by football advertising and press. On the flip side, female sports journalists like Amy Lawrence, Georgie Bingham and Sarah Shephard are more visible and Baroness Brady and shareholder Delia Smith both sit on the board at West Ham and Norwich respectively. There are women in the game to admire and aspire to.

The issue theme colour is pink… What was your thinking behind this?
I noticed on various visits to the club shop that ladies merchandise was coloured pink. Pink is 'girly' and the colour is most associated with femininity so the assumption that women would prefer the gendered shade rather than official club colours seems patronising. Using pink for the issue was an attempt to reclaim it. If you look through the issue, none of the female fans featured show their support in that type of pink.

Photography Claire Pepper

In what other ways does football merch continue to patronise female fans?
By making ladies' replica shirts lower cut than the men's version which the 'Why We're Not Wearing Ladies' Football Shirts' feature addresses. The furore over the 15/16 Manchester United ladies shirt sparked the piece and the issue really splits opinion. Some women love them and wear them religiously and others like Verity refuse to wear any shirt at all. I'll wear a men's shirts occasionally because I prefer oversized fits and some women, like Naoko, even wear kids' shirts. What we do agree on that they're worn for supporting purposes not style. That's where Savile Rogue's luxury football scarves come in.

What's been the reaction to the zine from male fans?
Incredible. Men and women have really embraced SEASON zine's message and aesthetic. They've have been vocal about it on social media and sent messages of support. Our social media following is growing and we've had orders from as far flung as New Zealand.

Should the FA be doing more of to highlight the issue of sexism in the game?
The FA is well placed to help but I'm not sure it's just down to them. It has to come from every level: top down and bottom up. FIFA, fans, players, managers, press, brands and advertisers as well. Rather than just highlighting the problem, we all need to work together to change this attitude with action.

Illustration, Charlotte Trounce

What if you think football's a load of old rubbish. Will you still enjoy the magazine?
With or without the football, the issue is authentic and every detail has been carefully considered to ensure it looks great and reads well. Right down to the smaller, near matchday programme size and grain of paper used. The aesthetic SEASON zine's designer Natalie Doto and I were going for is colourful and confident yet elegant and intelligent. So the layouts are bold, the stories witty and the opinions are honest. Exciting and emerging talent has been spotlighted too: photographers Alina Negoita, Emily Rachel Rose, Claire Pepper and Patricia Karallis, illustrator Charlotte Trounce who did the stickers and set designers Isabel + Helen.

What's your favourite fashion and football moment? Which footballers or managers have the best style?
It's a toss-up between George Best and Mike Summerbee opening a fashion boutique in Manchester in the 60s and David Beckham's black sarong look in 1998. Both were bold and innovative moves for different reasons. That boutique really set the tone of fashion and football's modern trajectory for me: the idea that footballers could create their own fashion brands and monetise their style for fans to buy into. By wearing that sarong, David Beckham marked himself out as a fearless and pioneering dresser. You can't deny his influence on modern footballers' style - all the bold hairstyles and tattoos that are now de rigueur? Beckham probably did it best. He along with Bobby Moore and Johan Cruyff are the most stylish footballers in my opinion: cool and elegant. Manager-wise it's Jose Mourinho and Joachim Löw for me.

Photography Emily Rose

What's the ultimate aim of the magazine?
To be a creative lifestyle destination for fashion and football fans with a female focus. In print, online, through events and eventually products. The original aim is to kick off a dialogue acknowledging how fashion and women contribute to football's modern landscape so people will be compelled to take action when necessary.

Finally… Mourinho to United. What are we saying?
Honestly it's devastating as a Chelsea fan. He's gonna go there and be the best manager in the world at our expense having learnt from the lessons of last season. But as I said on the 'In Memory to Mourinho' page, I wouldn't have him back for a third time because it always ends in tears.
Bye, Felicia!

Credits


Text Matthew Whitehouse