Every sport has its official — or unofficial — dress code. In basketball, it’s fresh sneakers and designer eyewear. In hockey, it’s beards and extra-long “flow.” And in soccer, where multimillion-dollar deals between European fashion labels and superstars like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo are the norm, it’s slim-fitting suits, brand-name athletic wear, and trendy hairstyles. For proof, look no further than the stars of Detroit’s favorite soccer team, Detroit City Football Club.
For the uninitiated, Detroit City F.C., nicknamed Le Rouge, has been “lifting Detroit in soccer” since 2012. Over the past few years, the popularity of the semi-professional, National Premier Soccer League team has soared, prompting, in part, last year’s move from the 2,500-capacity Cass Tech Stadium in Midtown to the 7,000-capacity Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck.
As expected, Le Rouge’s loyal fan base followed the team across town, bringing their flags, smoke bombs, and lively chants with them. And although that part of soccer culture — the rowdy, dedicated fandom — has translated here in Detroit, it hasn’t always been that way.
“When I was 7, 8 years old in the early 2000s, soccer was nothing in the United States at all,” says Tyler Moorman, a second-year forward with DCFC. “Major League Soccer was terrible and nobody liked it, and now it’s huge and it’s getting even bigger.”
As the world’s favorite sport has grown here in the U.S., so too has its influence on the fashion world, from men’s athletic apparel to casual street wear.
“I think at the start of it, the whole fashion sense wasn’t there at all,” Moorman says. “But now before games you see guys dressing the same way as the European teams do, and I think that’s come with people taking it more seriously. … You’ve got media involved, you’ve got social media, you’ve got fans. Guys actually care about their appearance.”
To be sure, every sport has its share of athletes who are known for their pre- and post-game garb such as basketball’s Russell Westbrook, football’s J.J. Watt, and hockey’s Henrik Lundqvist. But among certain crowds, the fashion-forward soccer player has garnered a certain reputation.
“Soccer players get a bad rap,” says DCFC midfielder Spiro Pliakos. “Like ‘Oh, these guys are so soft because they’re doing their hair.’ You’ll get a bunch of crap for it, but they’re looking good. They’re on the billboards… It’s a ‘look good, feel good’ type of thing.”
Aside from a suave hairstyle, looking good on game day for DCFC members typically consists of an official team polo and khaki shorts or pants, but that doesn’t mean members of Le Rouge aren’t free to get creative.
“If I can wear something to stand out, I will,” says George Chomakov, a fourth-year DCFC midfielder. “If I feel like I can do it, I’ll try it out. That’s the way I’ve looked at style for a while.”
But even in Europe, where fashion looms large, soccer — er, football — looms larger. As DCFC captain and English native Dave Edwardson puts it, come game day, the focus is all about what happens on the field.
“Fashion’s huge now,” Edwardson says. “I wouldn’t say it’s a part of the game, but I would say it definitely has something to do with the game.”
At the end of any match, what always looks best is a “W,” but for DCFC, whose official motto is “Passion for Our City, Passion for Our Game,” every game is also about building community and meeting the enthusiasm of the fans.
“It’s amazing what the fans do for us,” Chomakov says. “To get 7,000 people at a game, it’s unbelievable. It’s one big family. That’s how I look at it. Whether it’s the owners or the coach, the players, the fans, we’re all in it together. It feels like a big family.”
Of course, it never hurts to look good in the process.
Detroit City FC’s season opener is May 6 at Keyworth Stadium. For schedule and tickets visit detcityfc.com.
Hometown: Shelby Township
Years with DCFC: 5
Theory pants, $275, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300; neimanmarcus.com. Shoes, Adkins’ own.
Hometown: Rochester Hills
Years with DCFC: 2
Salvatore Ferragamo silk and leather sweater, $3,400, at Salvatore Ferragamo, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-4515; ferragamo.com. Shoes, Pliakos’ own.
Hometown: Newcastle, England
Years with DCFC: 5
ON EDWARDSON: Kit and Ace “Go To Cashmere V” sweater, $298, and “Ace Long Sleeve Button Up” shirt, $118, at Kit and Ace, Detroit; 844-548-6223; kitandace.com.
AG Adriano Goldschmied jeans, $235, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300; neimanmarcus.com.
DCFC 2017 season scarf, $20, at Detroit City FC Club Shop, Hamtramck; 313-265-3630; detcityfc.com. Shoes, Edwardson’s own.
Years with DCFC: 6
Vince double layer lounge pants, $145, at Vince, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-712-0084; vince.com.
Bally shoes, $595, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300; neimanmarcus.com.
Hometown: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Years with DCFC: 4
ON CHOMAKOV: Marc New York “Martense” bomber jacket, $425, at andrewmarc.com.
Fendi T-shirt, $450, and Saint Laurent shoes, $495, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300; neimanmarcus.com.
Purple jeans, $198, at Caruso Caruso, Birmingham; 248-645-5151.
Years with DCFC: 2
ON MOORMAN: Michael Kors zip cardigan, $398, at michaelkors.com. John Varvatos shirt, $148, Burberry pants, $350,
and Frye “Owen” shoes, $328, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300; neimanmarcus.com.
On Pliakos: Ted Baker shirt, $149, and Antony Morato pants, $149, at Dolce Moda, Birmingham; 248-399-6200; dolcemoda.com. Tallia belt, $45, at The Shirt Box.
On Adkins: BOSS jacket, $595, shirt, $175, tie, $145, and pants, $155, at BOSS Hugo Boss, Somerset Collection North, Troy; 248-643-1938; hugoboss.com.
On Edwardson: BOSS blazer, $545, and pants, $155, at BOSS Hugo Boss. Theory shirt, $185, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300; neimanmarcus.com.
On Moorman: Theory jacket, $495, and Tom Ford tie, $220, at Neiman Marcus. Original Penguin shirt, $79, and AG Adriano Goldschmied jeans, $198, at Caruso Caruso, Birmingham; 248-645-5151.
On Chomakov: Theory shirt, $225, and Giorgio Armani bow tie, $195, at Neiman Marcus. A.P.C. jeans, $250, at Today Clothing, Ann Arbor; 734-548-8301; todayclothing.com.
On Head Coach Ben Pirmann: BOSS blazer, $650, and shirt, $155, at BOSS Hugo Boss. Tom Ford tie, $250, at Neiman Marcus. 34 Heritage jeans, $158,
at The Shirt Box.
Photographs by Lians Jadan
Styling by Rebecca Voigt
Photography Assistance by Jacob Lewkow, Brian Quintos
Styling Assistance by Jennifer Pickering
Hair styling by Monica Jadan
Makeup by Jessica Haze
Special thank you to Dayspace Studio & the Detroit City Football Club