UPDATE 25/10/21: EA7 categorically denies to Highsnobiety that Kappa is still producing the Napoli kit, which is being made by various production sites that have been validated by its teams.
When Giorgio Armani isn't busy at the day job, he can often be found watching football. Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Kaka, erm, David James.. they've all featured in Armani campaigns. When it comes to sports formal attire, the brand does it better than everyone else.
This summer, the Italian luxury giant got even closer to the game after its EA7 sports sub-label inked a partnership with current Serie A leaders Napoli in what was billed as the first luxury-slash-football crossover of its kind.
Yesterday, Twitter user @ChatShirt offered up a theory that last season's kit supplier Kappa is still manufacturing the shirts in the same factory, with an EA7 logo slapped on at the end. When seen side by side below, the theory doesn't seem far out. From what we can untangle, it seems that Napoli self-produced the jerseys with Swiss sportswear label Onis, which in turn copied the same Kappa template from last season. Kappa may even be involved in the process to some extent — see how the panels from the recent Halloween fourth jersey appear to be much the same.
Highsnobiety has reached out to EA7 for comment.
Napoli wouldn't be the first football club to handle their gear in house — the likes of Rangers and Leicester City have done similar. Yet it begins to feel a bit sus when you read claims that Giorgio Armani designed the new jerseys (can you really say that about a copy and paste job?). Not only that, but the price has been set at an eye-watering €125. It's as if people are being duped into paying for some kind of premium item that, well, actually isn't.
The jersey wouldn't be the first time club chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis has been embroiled in controversy. The outspoken film producer is known for his outlandish statements.
It remains to be seen if EA7 has the means and technology to produce a kit run for one of Italy's biggest clubs, despite having made moves into other professional sports such as tennis. During pre-season, the club played in last season's kits that had the expired sponsorship deals taped up.
If you're struggling to keep up with the number of sub-divisions in the Armani universe, a quick summary of the most notable ones — at least in recent years — goes like this: There's Prive Armani, which makes haute couture that costs more than your mortgage; Giorgio Armani, the original, high-end gold standard; and then Emporio Armani, a ready-to-wear line focused on trends and younger customers. After that, you're dealing there's Armani:Exchange, which you'll find on the high street, and EA7, the sports line. Other non-fashion business projects such as hotels, chocolates, and even flowers.
These are interesting times for technical sponsorships in Serie A after Nike all but removed itself from the market (or Nixit, if you will). That opens up opportunities for new pretenders. Let's just hope they get off to a better start than whoever is really behind the Napoli effort.