Even if you don’t consider yourself a football fan, a quick glance around the ‘history’ section of Arsenal’s website will make it clear that Ian Wright is a fundamental part of the club’s lore. But throughout his career, first as a footballer and later a pundit, Wright – or Wrighty to just about everybody – has been developing his own mythology, which has been brought to life in a new clothing collaboration with Arsenal and adidas.
The three-piece collection revolves around hand-illustrated designs, which create a patchwork of the foundational people and experiences in his career: spot the golden tooth, goal celebration, and Arsenal alum like David Seaman and Kelly Smith. If it feels contemplative, it is. “Turning 60 last month made me reflect a lot on what I’ve done so far, my time at Arsenal and the very special people I’ve worked with,” he explains. “So to work with adidas and have this range come out that represents some of my biggest career moments, is really special and I hope people feel the love in this collection as much as I do.”
The surrounding campaign, developed by sports-focused creative agency Homeground, is rooted in the idea that Wright has been as influential off the pitch as he has been on, pushing boundaries “not just with his football and his goals, but with his style and opinions too,” say Homeground creative directors Charlie Parker and Jonny Marsh. “He didn’t come through the youth system, he came from the building sites, and through non-league.
“When we were first introduced to the kit, we saw there was something quite traditional about the design,” they add. “It felt like a tapestry that tells the story of a battle, or like a family quilt, where each square patchwork reveals your family history.” A family quilt is often something “passed down to future generations”, an idea they wanted to carry through to the campaign.
To do so, Homeground landed on an animation filled with playful slices of wisdom from the man himself. The agency enlisted animation studio Golden Wolf, which “instantly got Ian’s big personality and style; and that brought a joyful fun and confidence to the film. They also understood the importance of his words, and amplified them through the visuals and typography in the film.” The creative directors explain that the voiceover was written to sound like “fables or aphorisms with a tone of voice you might find in a fortune cookie”.
“When it came to recording the voiceover for the animated films we invited Golden Wolf down to the session,” they add. “It’s not what we would usually do, but we really wanted them to meet Ian in person, and get a sense of the stories he was telling.”
The collection was also photographed on Wright and other members of the Arsenal family by Henry Jay Kamara. “He had shot Ian before, and we felt he’d captured Ian’s vibe better than anyone we had seen before,” the creative directors explain. “His approach to shooting in black and white and creating layering, texture and tones really helped the shirt pop, plus he’s a lifelong Gooner.”
The campaign is a joyful balance between cheeky and sentimental. “It might be his 60th birthday, but he’s giving you a gift,” they add. “A gift of knowledge, to live a life like Wrighty.”
Creative Directors: Charlie Parker, Jonny Marsh, Henry Scotland, Rachid Ahouiyek
Design Director: David Missen
Director: Golden Wolf
Creative Director (Golden Wolf): Stefan Falconer
Photographer: Henry Jay Kamara