It’s a rainy autumn afternoon in Paris, but bad weather doesn’t bother PSG midfielder Marco Verratti. “Paris is a beautiful and dynamic city; I’ve been here for eight years and I love it more and more every day,” he tells Highsnobiety, taking shelter under the concourse of a deserted Parc des Princes. We’re in town for the French Champions’ latest Jordan Brand kit shoot, the third installment of the partnership so far. The bordeaux and gold color palette — the former a reference to the Air Jordan VII, debuted by Michael Jordan at the 1992 NBA All-Star Game — is far removed from the infrared maximalism that polarised opinion last year, and bears more than a passing resemblance to this Louis Vuitton-indebted away kit from 2006. Only Parisians could get away with it.
If the humble football jersey has been indelibly written into streetwear’s glossary, PSG’s relationship with the Jumpman is possibly the main reason why. Its success has upended the entire kit economy — rivals try to recreate the secret sauce that has seen the club transcend sport, becoming a global lifestyle powerhouse. Solid aesthetics is a big part of it, but so is storytelling and authenticity. It has tapped into fashion, basketball, hip-hop, and celebrity in a way that speaks to the city’s soul. Even if PSG is not your cup of tea, there can be no denying its X-factor. To wear the shirt is to represent Paris, in all its gritty, glamorous glory. The feeling of pulling it on is universal, striking a chord with folk from Pigalle to Phnom Penh.
“They are always very nice jerseys; it gives us an extra push before the Champions League matches,” says Brazilian defender Marquinhos, proving there’s an element of truth to the “look good, play good” mindset. “To have the opportunity to live here is an honor. You find everything you need here — restaurants, museums… all Brazilians love to come to Paris.”
Despite its many detractors, the truth is that PSG has always been stylish. It might not have been the force on the pitch that it is these days, but growing up in the late ’90s and early ’00s, it was a name that got the imagination firing when drawn against British clubs in Europe. It had a proper fan culture and the infamous Boulogne Boys; it had samba stars like Raí followed by a budding Ronaldinho; it had the Eiffel Tower logo and unmistakable Nike Hechter stripe kits. “It is just a city that loves football,” adds Marquinhos. These days, the names are much bigger — Kylian Mbappé and Mauro Icardi join us to have their picture took — and the stakes higher, but its ultras can still be found cheering the team on from the Virage Auteuil end of the stadium (when allowed in).
After narrowly losing out in last year’s Champions League final, in two weeks time, PSG will don its new kit for a fresh assault on the competition, regarded as its holy grail. As the club motto goes, “Ici c'est Paris”, and Paris — as always — certainly looks the part.