Young Men are Cosplaying as Football Fans 

Blokecore has been bumbling away for a while now, and we’ve mostly avoided it with a barge pole. But now, as it reaches far away American shores, we figured it’s time that Proper Mag gives our opinion. 

Look, if you haven’t heard about ‘blokecore’ yet, then you’re either over 30, or you live under a rock. When we reluctantly heard the news, we grabbed the closest rock we could find and sandwiched ourselves under it. The kids are dressing up as football fans? What the fuck is going on? 

For the uninitiated, blokecore is the latest in a string of microtrends that has emerged, primarily, on TikTok. Other ‘cores’, such as cottagecore, normcore, and dadcore (yes, really), preceded it, but unlike the others – except, of course, gorpcore, which is the de facto trend of the past few years – blokecore seems to have more going for it than just a few fleeting 7-second fit vids.

Seeing as we’re adults, we didn’t hear about blokecore through TikTok. We heard about blokecore the normal way: through Instagram, where someone screen-recorded a TikTok. Usually, the videos contain a young man explaining how to pair blue jeans with football shirts, sambas, and bucket hats. The first blokecore vid was started by TikToker Brandon Huntley in December 2021, where Huntley demonstrated an outfit in his bathroom. 

Our first thought: do people need video explanations for this? The fashion isn’t exactly hard. That’s the point: everyone, including your least stylish mate in the boozer, can turn up in blue jeans, sambas and a football shirt. That’s literally the reason why your least stylish mate is wearing what he’s wearing. There aren’t even badges or compasses. In fact, liking football isn’t even a prerequisite for the attire. Blokecore is to casual culture what normcore was to high fashion. And that kind of is the point – it’s dressing down, it’s easy, it’s just clothes. 

But on second thought, there’s something deeper at play. When interviewed about the trend by Shift, Huntley said: “to get the look perfectly it’s got to be a UK club and preferably one in the Championship or lower, because that’s where the real geezers are going to watch that game getting drunk.”

When I chat with our very own Mark Smith about the whole phenomenon, he was sceptical. He hit me with the anticipated question, “is it middle-class appropriation of working-class culture again?” before coming with the curveball: “Or, is it 2022 middle-class appropriation of 1994 middle-class appropriation of 1980s working-class culture?” and left my head spinning before linking me to this video

Football and fashion have always been linked. But the reality of it is that whatever it is when we think of football fashion – Stone Island, Green Street, buses of lads in Burberry scarves or Italian yacht wear – it’s always building on something that came before it. Every generation stands on the shoulders of the one before it. 

This generation – Gen Z – is paying homage to the world that came before them, in their own, online way. The clue is in the aforementioned ‘core’, which is used, sometimes ironically, to delineate attention to a certain subculture or scene without necessarily belonging to it. The scene, this time, is masculinity. Blokecore is parodying blokehood, parodying that archetype of a man that exists in pubs and terraces, and using its associations with football for its own, lighthearted cosplay. The likelihood is that the members of Gen Z that are fueling the blokecore videos on TikTok will never be ‘blokes’. The bloke of the past won’t exist in the future, and because of this distance, blokecore has the dissociated charm of Tudor reenactment. 

That said, it’s undeniable that football is really having a moment right now. 2021’s World Cup garnered some spectacular scenes, and our women won this year’s Euros, the latter of which tapped into a demographic that’d never felt represented in the beautiful game – or in the culture surrounding it. The Face ran an issue with Jack Grealish on the cover, and over in the more explicit fashion world, collections from Palace, Aimé Leon Dore and Brain Dead have all featured football shirts. Oh yeah, and ASAP Rocky literally wore a Cantona shirt in the DMB video, which in some ways cements the blokecore aesthetic – even if it is just the appearance of a football shirt on an American – for eternity. 

Ultimately, it’s all just a meme. When you consider that the origins of a so-called fashion trend can be traced through knowyourmeme.com, the whole thing starts to unpeel. One thing is for certain: there is an undeniable charm to reconnecting with some of the values alluded to by blokecore. Blokecore has made it clear that Lad culture and all its associations to pints and football (less FHM and Zoo and more Mundial) still has appeal.

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