Cult Hamburg-based football club St. Pauli is best known for its left-leaning supporter base and the fact it often puts community initiatives and social issues ahead of profit. One of the club’s logos — a white skull and crossbones on a black background — tells you everything you need to know about the anti-establishment mentality of the club.
So, why should St. Pauli’s jerseys be any different? This past weekend, the club announced that it was kicking adidas, Nike, Under Armour, and other kit manufacturers to the curb in favor of designing and producing its own jerseys for next season. The reason for this radical approach (almost all professional teams in Europe are signed with big sportswear companies) is that none of the brands could satisfy St. Pauli’s standards for sustainably-produced, transparent, and fair trade jerseys. Under Armour is St. Pauli’s current kit manufacturer, however, the deal runs out at the end of this season.
A statement on the official club website reads: “The club has been working on the project since 2018, looking for a kit supplier that produces performance wear sustainably and transparently and supports fair trade. As no external provider was able to meet the criteria in full, the club will assume responsibility for production itself in future.”
“In launching our own teamsport collection, we remain steadfastly on our path of independence. The strength of a member-run club is reflected in the implementation of our members' ideas,” says club president Oke Göttlich. “In this way, we can face any crisis together. DIIY, incidentally, is derived from the term DIY, or do it yourself. That's exactly what FC St. Pauli is all about - not just moaning, but doing it better yourself.”
The move may come as a surprise to outsiders, but fans of the club or those aware of the club’s previous initiatives (St. Pauli keeps bees at its stadium and produces its own honey; it once even had exotic dancers in its VIP lounges) will be less surprised. Regardless, St. Pauli continues to do what it’s always done and, in this case, could blaze a trail in professional sports.
Football, like the rest of fashion, has a big sustainability problem. Jerseys are designed and released with a built-in expiry date, as clubs get a new set of kits every season. St. Pauli is one of few clubs that looks to be going the extra mile. adidas and Nike have made attempts at bringing recycled materials into the production of their jerseys, though St. Pauli’s statement seems that major sportswear brands are still not doing enough.
Another team that has made a name for itself with regards to sustainability, is UK club Forest Green Rovers, who are widely considered to be the most environmentally-conscious football club in the world. Its jerseys are made out of bamboo and count Hector Bellerin as an investor.
St. Pauli’s new jerseys will be worn for the 2021/22 season and will be available for pre-order in December. The collection, which St. Pauli has aptly named DIIY, will be on sale starting May 2021.