Launched at the opening of last week’s landmark C.P. Company retrospective in Lancashire, the adidas Spezial x C.P. Company story embraces both brands and their resonance to working-class culture and sartorial one-upmanship.
Anyone who knows even the basic origins of youth culture in the UK will know the casual movement which played out largely on the football terraces was a fiercely competitive scene that owed just as much to what the protagonists wore as it did to how adept at fighting they were. The purists of the scene will dispute that, but the lasting legacy of 1980s terrace culture isn’t its popularisation of punching opposing fans in the face, it’s the culture that enveloped those explosions of aggression.
In the past, C.P. Company has had a reluctance to wear the football culture crown. Hooliganism isn’t a strong look for most brands, even if they’re secretly aware of its patronage of their output. This isn’t a celebration of disorder and parochialism though, far from it. It’s about celebrating that sense of belonging, channeling Massimo Osti’s own outlier mentality and connecting it with legions of largely working-class youngsters who felt similarly on the outside of popular culture. Organically, items like the iconic, futuristic Mille Miglia jacket allowed those from humble, industrial towns to break the chains of their stereotypes. Parading around in jackets with goggles was just as much of a reactionary statement as punk was a decade earlier.
Having said all that, it’s best not to look too deeply into the origins of these things. For a start, there’s always going to be a ready queue of people waiting to correct you on what is a uniquely personal experience anyway.
This link-up between C.P. Company and adidas Spezial shows bravery in embracing a previously negative stereotype, especially for C.P. Company. It says a lot about the honesty Lorenzo Osti has sought to imbue in the brand’s values, following in his father’s footsteps. Lads from mill towns and market towns wear C.P. Company. Best not to pretend otherwise. Instead, this capsule collaboration embraces that and turns it into a positive.
In simple terms, fashion collaborations are a marketing exercise, and at the root of any good marketing is a truth that few can contradict. That’s what makes this partnership so compelling. The cynicism that exists in other collabs isn’t evident here. It’s not pretending to be anything other than what it is, and when you listen to President Lorenzo it’s clear that is central to the original philosophy of the brand his father founded.
The two tenets of authenticity which weave this capsule together are the adidas Italia, reworked specially for this release, and the Haslingden jacket from Spezial’s own range, albeit with C.P. Company’s DNA liberally applied. The camo is an Italian one and in the case of the footwear, it’s an obvious shoe to choose in terms of its name, but less so in the era it’s plucked from. It delves a little further back into the archives than Spezial has previously been known for but who wants predictability?
Bringing these items together is adidas athlete Luke Shaw, who we all really like now after his early goal in the Euro 2020 final. That game was a clash between England and Italy too, although unlike the football, there are no losers here.
A celebration of three icons of football culture – both on and off the pitch – the adidas Spezial by C.P. Company collaborative collection arrives in limited quantities on October 14th, and is available exclusively through C.P. Company flagship stores and END. Clothing.