Why Grace Wales Bonner was the perfect choice to unnveil adidas’ first Jamaica kit

Wales Bonner x adidas Jamaica Kit - PFWWales Bonner / Jack Day

The crossover between football and fashion has become a well-worn topic of discussion in recent years thanks to all the collaborations, special releases and think pieces. The latest evidence of the connection between the two worlds happened at Paris Fashion Week, where London-based designer Grace Wales Bonner and her eponymous label provided a first look at adidas’ brand-new Jamaica home shirt.

Wales Bonner’s role in the much-anticipated launch was a perfect fit, not only because of her Jamaican heritage, but also due to adidas’ commitment to celebrate “Jamaican style and culture” through the partnership. By working with the designer on the rollout, adidas is showing that these values will be central to its approach across its collaboration with Jamaica. Wales Bonner is also a regular adidas collaborator, and previous joint releases have often taken inspiration from the sporting world.

This theme started with Wales Bonner’s first-ever adidas Originals collection for the Autumn/Winter 2020 season, which included a retro-inspired yellow football jersey. A year later, the designer put her spin on the “Tokyo” silhouette, unveiling it in a football-themed lookbook shot by acclaimed photographer Tyler Mitchell. Through almost all of her adidas collaborations, Wales Bonner has also revisited and reworked the adidas Samba, a shoe that has been tied up with football culture ever since it launched in 1949.

Wales Bonner’s work with adidas builds on her wider designs and a particular focus on championing Black artists, creatives and icons. Speaking to the Financial Times about her first and second adidas collections, the designer spoke about the influence of Bob Marley and his passion for football. “I love the layering of knitwear, and how he manages to wear sportswear in a very elegant way,” she said.

Wales Bonner x adidas SS22adidas

In the same interview, Wales Bonner also discussed her relationship with adidas and its role in her work. “adidas has always been naturally quite present in the time periods or the communities that I’ve been looking at,” she continued. “They adopted sportswear but gave it a different meaning and wore it in a different context. I think it’s quite iconic.”

So working with Wales Bonner on the launch of the Jamaica home shirt makes perfect sense for adidas, but what about the shirt itself? The first look at it showed adidas’ focus on progressive designs for their kits, as well as revealing details that had been teased in the announcement at the start of this year. The green stripes used by adidas and the Jamaican Football Federation run down the shirt in green, while a black trim is used for the Three Stripes across each shoulder. Arguably the stand-out feature appears on the sleeve cuffs and collar, where the gold, black and green of the Jamaican flag is used in a tricolour formation.

Wales Bonner - adidas Jamaica kit sneak peelVintage Football Shirts / JFF

Overall, the design makes for a sophisticated shirt, but arguably it’s the choice of Wales Bonner to launch the shirt that tells more about the future direction of adidas and Jamaica. The brand has promised to put Jamaican style and culture at the heart of the partnership, and working with Wales Bonner – a designer who celebrates Black history, identity and artistry – shows one way that the Three Stripes can do this.