Highsnobiety

Marco Materazzi has won almost every trophy in Italian football: he lifted the Serie A five times, the Coppa Italia four times, and the Supercoppa Italiana four times. Not to forget that he’s won arguably the biggest trophy in club football, the UEFA Champions League, and the biggest trophy in national team football, the World Cup.  

How would Materazzi react if you told him, as a young player bouncing around in Italy’s second and third division, that he would achieve all of this? “I’d tell you to wake up and stop dreaming,” he says with the lightest of laughs down the phone from his adopted city of Milan.

An Inter player from 2001 to 2011, few people embody the essence of FC Internazionale Milano, or Inter, better than Marco Materazzi aka The Matrix. Feared by all rival strikers, and loved by his fans, Materazzi won the hearts of all Inter supporters thanks to his unwavering loyalty, dedication, and abilities as a left-footed defender.

“Still today, the north stand at the San Siro chants ‘Tutti pazzi per Materazzi’ ('everyone is crazy for Materazzi'),” says Guido Ontini, an Inter fan, collector, and owner of the Instagram account Inter_Lifestyle.  

“It's my passion that probably made me become one with the Inter fans,” says Materazzi. “They love me not for the goals I scored, even if I scored important goals. They love me for what I gave to the Nerazzurri colors. And I think that is the most beautiful testimony one can feel as a player.”

His pride is palpable through the phone line, and it only grows stronger as I begin quizzing him about famous Inter kits from bygone years. 

"One of my favorites is the red and white centennial one, even though they are not the classic Inter colors,” says Materazzi, referring to Inter’s 2007/2008 away kit. “It had something concrete on the jersey like the scudetto, and the Italian cup.” For that season, in celebration of the team's centennial, Nike recalled the club's heritage through its away kit: a white jersey with a red cross, designed to symbolize the unbreakable bond between Inter and the city of Milan.

Other favorites of his include the 2010/11 away shirt (or, as he calls it “the one with the snake, with no more space to attach rosettes on.”) and the Scudetto kit of 1988/89, which is what first comes to mind when Materazzi thinks of Inter kits. However, the one that he's most proud of owning is the 2009/2010 home kit—“the one from the World Cup final, the one from Madrid.” 

This is the jersey that Inter made history wearing, becoming the only Italian team to win three titles including the Champions League.

“I still remember the celebrations at the San Siro," says Ontini from Inter_Lifestyle. "I arrived late at night and we waited for the team to arrive from Madrid. When they arrived it was morning and there was perhaps the most beautiful sunrise I've seen.”

The kit for this historic occasion was designed with nine stripes, keeping the tricolor in the center and surrounding the Inter coat of arms with the colors of the Italian flag.

Materazzi is part of Inter’s golden generation and historic moments like winning the Treble put the spotlight on its iconic Pirelli-sponsored shirts, bringing them firmly into football folklore. But Inter’s history of having beautifully designed shirts goes back way before Materazzi’s time. 

Giorgio Muggiani, a painter, graphic designer, and the founder of Inter, first dreamed up the team's blue and black stripes. Legend says that during a summer night in 1908 while looking up at the stars against the background of the night sky, was when he decided on the colors. To add to the poetry of it all, he decided to call the team Internazionale because, in his words, "We are brothers of the world."

Originally, when the team was founded in 1908, Inter's uniforms were made in-house or by local Milanese artisans, crafted from cotton and flannel shirting fabric. The uniform underwent two major changes by 1930: adding the Milan snake in the 1913/14 season and adopting a white uniform with a red cross under fascist demands in 1928, though the blue and black stripes returned the next season.

From the late '70s through to the early '80s, Serie A's rising prominence encouraged clubs to work with technical sponsors. Puma outfitted Inter from 1977 to 1981. Later, Inter switched to Mec Sport and then to Le Coq Sportif, eventually partnering with Uhlsport. Key changes during these transitions included modifications to the stripe width, shorts color, and an updated version of Inter's crest incorporating the club's name.

During the years that Umbro was the kit producer, the official sponsor changed several times: in the 1991/92 season it was the turn of the FitGar company, then it was the turn of Fiorucci in '92, a jersey Marco told me he would have loved to have played in and which streetwear label Patta recently reworked.

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Finally, in the 1995/96 season, it was the turn of Pirelli, a sponsor who is now synonymous with Inter, decorating some of its best kits over 26 years. However, none are more iconic than the 1997/98 away kit, worn during the Uefa Cup Final at the Parc des Princes in Paris, on an unforgettable night in May 1998. It resulted in a 3-0 win against Lazio and a third Uefa Cup in the Nerazzurri trophy cabinet. 

“That kit is in the hearts of every Inter fan not only for the victorious final in Paris, but also for the semi-final return match on the borderline unplayable pitch of Spartak Moscow, in which Ronaldo, dribbling through snow, mud, and opponents, overturned the hosts' early lead with two memorable goals," says Picchi.

It was revived for the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons, allowing Marco Materazzi to “feel a little bit like Ronaldo” he tells me with a slight chuckle. 

Honoring this iconic kit, London-based streetwear brand Palace unveiled in its Summer 2022 lookbook two long-sleeve tees clad with “Palazzo” branding on the reverse, and a Palace logo in the style of long-time Inter Milan sponsors.

One of many examples where Inter's legendary archives have inspired a streetwear label or sneaker brand, the team has built a strong reputation in fashion. Plus, with football shirts recently spiking in popularity, a new generation of football fans has been discovering its incredible history.

“I'm a child of the '80s and '90s when it was a major movement where you went around with your team's jersey. I still remember the English football jerseys... and Inter ones as well,” says Materazzi. “Now, finally, this trend is back.”

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Beyond its retro kits, what puts Inter in the unique space of being a stylish football team is its current collections: its streetwear-inspired line called “Made in Milano” was founded a couple of years ago, it also has a formal wear partnership with fellow Milanese luxury label Moncler, and its recent kit releases have not disappointed.

The charm of Inter’s blue and black stripes shows no sign of wearing off and with the team just weeks away from securing another Serie A title and adding a second scudetto star to its kit, Inter is about to embark on a new era of historic kits. 

In the words of Marco 'The Matrix' Materazzi: “We have the needle. We have the thread. We have the scudetto. We just have to sew it.”

The Inter x Highsnobiety collaboration releases on April 17 as part of Not In Milan, a multi-media festival of culture running alongside Milan Design Week.

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