for everyone, by zlatan
One of the world’s most iconic footballers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is launching a new sportswear label. As it launched we sat down with the Swedish striker to discuss venturing into fashion.
There are footballers, and then there is Zlatan; a player bigger than his sport, bigger than his team.
Zlatan is no longer simply a player (even if he is a great player) - he's a verb, these days you can "Zlatan", the opposition get Zlataned. He's funny, handsome, arrogant, outrageous, talented, everything you'd imagine a stereotypical footballer to be, but he's more than that, he's a self-aware joker, playing up to his egomaniac image, keeping everyone hanging off every statement.
He's the kind of person, who when asked what he got his wife for her birthday, he famously said, "nothing, she already has Zlatan." The kind of player who talks about himself in the third person ("Zlatan doesn't do auditions," he said to Arsene Wenger, who tried to to get him to do a trial at Arsenal when he was just 17). The kind of player who success follows around. A player who's won practically everything and climbed to the summit of football.
It's been four years now since Paris got Zlataned, when the Swedish striker arrived in the French capital as part of club's footballing revolution ("Now they have something else to look at instead of the Mona Lisa").
Now, as he prepares to leave PSG for pastures new (possibly Manchester United), Zlatan is also gearing up to launch his first clothing line, A-Z. Having spent much of his career in Fashion capitals you might think Zlatan's clothing line would be as bombastic as the man himself, but this A-Z is instead a collection of minimalist, utilitarian beauty, it's affordable too, "sportswear for everyone," as he states in typical Zlatan.
So as it launched this week we sat down with Zlatan himself to discuss designing sportswear, taking Sweden to Euros, and why being better is all in your mind.
Why did you decide to launch your own brand?
I want to connect to the people, I'm a man of the people, and after 15 years of working with big brands and big companies, I decided I'd like to do my own thing. It was a dream I'd had for a long time, to see other people train in clothes I'd designed.
The product we have is simple because our philosophy is nothing like anyone else's. I don't say "my clothes will make you better". It's all in your mind, you make yourself better. It's all about hard work. When it comes to the product, we have the best one. And we come with a totally different philosophy. It's a mind game. Are you prepared to sacrifice and work hard to become the one you want to be? That is the way I think.
Is style or function the greater concern?
Of course I want it to look good, but the important thing is how comfortable it is, how easy it is to wear. Of course everybody wants to look good when they train. that's normal, but our main goal is the training philosophy.
How would you describe the philosophy?
The clothes will not make you better, but when it comes to the clothes it's important that they are the best in regards to shape, quality and comfort. Free from stupid details. I'll never tell you "put this shirt on and you'll feel stronger". That's always bullshit. That's the difference between me and the rest. It's in your mind. You'll only make yourself better with training, through sacrifices. That's the way it is.
How involved were you in the development of A-Z?
Fully involved. Since day one. It's been a one and a half years. We've been a team working incredibly hard, we are super happy. Now is the moment when we want to reach out to the people. Everybody is super excited. We have many things going on. All of which will be huge.
Why "A to Z"?
You begin from A, and you end up at Z. It's a long way, and the long way depends on you. How far do you want to take it? The clothes are for everyone. Low-level, high-level, it doesn't matter. I want everybody to have the possibility to train in the best clothes. Not only people who are on my level, because on my level there aren't many, but people just starting out too. I feel that they're more important than the professionals. You have to start the journey somewhere.
How would you describe the brand in a few words?
Magic. Quality. Easy going.
How much did you put of yourself in it? What's the little thing that's gonna make us say, "yeah, that's Zlatan"?
Well, for example, there is gold detail on every piece. That's something I wanted because Zlatan in my language means "golden". Gold is a colour I like. It's very strong, when you see it, you react. That's what I wanted, that is something very personal.
When you released your cologne, you said you wanted us to feel "like a boss". How do you want people to feel wearing your clothes?
Were you inspired by other football players who've launched their own brands?
No, no! When I had the opportunity to do this I wanted to do it in the way I wanted to. The dream is to see kids using these clothes. Then I'll be super happy. A-Z is not simply business. If it was, I wouldn't do it.
Was it fun, or hard work?
It was a bit of both. A lot of hard work and a lot of excitement too. Did you see the video? All the people in there are hand-picked by us. I chose how I wanted it to be. From pros to amateurs. That's what I mean. It's for everybody. I know the team has been making a lot of sacrifices, working a lot, because I'm a beginner in this area.
About the video. Was it important that it was shot in France and in Sweden?
Yes, I have a connection with Paris, I love it here, it's like a hometown for me, in a way. This is a way to give back to Paris. I feel it's very important. Paris gave me a lot of happiness, a lot of enjoyable moments and memories that I'll never forget.
The Euros are coming. I know a lot of French people supporting France first, then Sweden second, because of you...
Yeah! That's what I said. We'll have the Swedish fans and the French fans!
How special is it to play the Euros here in France?
Very special. When we didn't qualify automatically I was a bit disappointed. But we had the playoff. It wasn't possible that Zlatan wasn't going to play the Euros in France, after the four years I spent playing here. I thought, I need to make it, I need to come here with my country. I know I'll have the French people behind me. I'll have the Swedish people behind me. It had to happen. It was destiny.
Are your teammates going receive a little package of your clothes to wear?
I don't know! I'm still thinking if I want to give it to them. They need to deserve it first. They need to train very hard to get it!
They're training hard, but I believe we can train harder. Let's see what happen. Maybe I'll surprise everybody.
What's next for you, after football and clothing?
I think, as a person, whatever I do, I give 200%. I want to achieve something in whatever I do, with A-Z, with football, whatever I do, when I go in, I go in 200% and I achieve. The main goal with A-Z is to make it global. I want the world to train in these clothes. That's my ambition. When I've done that I can say to myself that I succeeded. I believe in big things. Small things does not give me the adrenaline, the motivation, the kick I need. I need to aim big. Second place is the first loser. I don't accept second place.
What can we expect from Zlatan for the rest of 2016?
Let's see what happen next season. Many exciting things will happen... Many new things.
Text Antoine Mbemba
Photography Leon Prost