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Six-Pack Interview Series: Live Breathe Futbol Founder Ebun Olaloye

 

As soccer in America grows so does the call for quality, stylish lifestyle apparel. We've all got our jerseys, scarves, and team specific Snuggies, but those have their time and place limitations. Thankfully soccer fans have great options with companies like Bumpy Pitch and Objectivo (maker of the FBM shirt!).

But there's a new kid on the block and he's a design machine. Introducing Ebun Olaloye and his brand, "Live Breathe Futbol", who's name implies that his shirts are for soccer fans both on and off the pitch; for those who's obsession with the game is a lifestyle choice. Olaloye makes shirts that work in game and at the bars.

We were lucky enough to get a few shirts from LBF and can attest to their comfort and style. Ebun was also gracious enough to answer a bunch of questions about where LBF came from, his thought process behind each shirt, and what's next for the company.

Read on....

Ebun

Free Beer Movement: Tell me a little about yourself. Who are you? Your background in design? Your background in your love of soccer?

Live Breathe Futbol: My name is Ebun and I’m a 21 year old architecture student at Temple University in Philadelphia. My obsession with design started when I was a child. I drew on the walls of my parent’s living room and on any blank surface I could find. In the 9th grade a friend saw my sketch of a t-shirt and asked me to make it for him. Since then I became obsessed with designing t-shirts and my sophomore year I made a new t-shirt every day to wear to school.

My love of soccer started in Nigeria where I was born. I grew up watching the Super Eagles and playing soccer with my friends during recess at school. I quickly became obsessed to the point where I’d disobey my father and stay out on the field much longer than I was allowed to. I always got in trouble for it, but to me getting to play for an extra hour or two was worth the reprimand.

FBM:Where did LBF come from? Why did you start it? How did it start?

The shirt that started it all.

LBF: My sophomore year in college I painted a t-shirt with Cristiano Ronaldo on it. It was bold, unrefined and unlike anything I’d ever seen. I got tons of complements on the shirt even from people who had no idea who he was. And shortly after I made a shirt with Kaka hoisting the Ballon d’Or trophy the year he won it. LBF still didn’t exist at this point; I was just painting shirts with my favorite players on them. One day, I was in class and drew a t-shirt in my sketchbook that had the words “Live Breathe Futbol” on it. I thought it sounded cool and got two dozen shirts printed up. All my friends at pick up soccer bought the shirts within a few days. At that point I hadn’t decided on a name for the brand, but ended up sticking with “Live Breathe Futbol” because there is no question about what it means; it is as direct as can be. If you see anyone wearing a shirt that says Live Breathe Futbol, you immediately know what their life is like.

I started LBF as a response to a fascinating phenomenon I witnessed firsthand at Temple University and other surrounding colleges. Everywhere my friends and I went to play there were a group of guys from all over the world who were playing soccer daily just because they loved the game. The conversations on the sidelines were all about soccer as well, so LBF is my way of championing this soccer-driven lifestyle that so many people across the world live.

FBM: What is the philosophy/beliefs behind LBF?

LBF: LBF operates under two core beliefs, with one relating to design and the other to futbol. LBF’s design philosophy is that a sport as beautiful and colorful as soccer needs a brand that provides fans with beautiful, well-designed gear that is culturally relevant to the sport. I haven’t seen a brand that makes soccer apparel that gets me super excited. My goal is to make LBF that brand for people. I want to design shirts that make people go absolutely nuts the same way they do when they see an amazing goal.

LBF’s futbol philosophy is sort of split into two parts. The first part has to do with the divisiveness of futbol as a sport. As an Arsenal fan, I am morally obligated to dislike Tottenham, etc… However, I feel the same joy as a Spurs fan when our teams win, and the same agony when our teams lose. My goal is to unite futbol fans based on our collective love and passion for the game. The second part of the philosophy has to do with championing the futbol players who play for the love of the game. My friends and I have never earned a dime from playing futbol, yet we’ve spent hundreds of dollars on league fees and driven hundreds of miles just to play futbol. I think it’s time that amateur players get some shine.

FBM: Inside each of your shirts reads, “This garment is designed with the history, character, and flair of the beautiful game in mind. Wear with pride. Remember it’s about moments.” Tell me what that means to you and what it means to the wearer of your shirts.

LBF: When I started LBF I wanted to make each piece mean something to the person who ends up wearing the shirt. The reason for printing the quote on the inside of the shirt is to remind the wearer that LBF isn’t just a brand that’s making cool t-shirts. Each design begins somewhere real, whether it’s a momentous game, a legendary player, or an emotion that resonates with every supporter. That way, you’re wearing something with a bit of history and character. Some people buy things based solely on aesthetics, and others buy for sentimental reasons. I just wanted to ensure that regardless of why you buy an LBF shirt you remember the moments that inspired its creation.

FBM: You recently won a contest with one of your shirt designs for the Philadelphia Union? Tell me about that.

 

LBF: Winning the Philadelphia Union‘s contest was immense for both LBF and me as young designer. My good friend, Jeff, sent me the link to the contest. I am not a huge fan of design contests because the talent out there is so amazing that it can be discouraging to even try at all. However, at the time of the contest I was in a mindset where I wanted to really challenge myself as a designer and see how I fared in comparison to other designers.

My goal with the Union contest was to create something that was culturally relevant to both Philadelphia as a city and the Union as a new part of the city’s sports identity. After a few iterations in my sketchbook, I decided that a hand drawn design was the best approach to capturing the classic and iconic look that best describes Philadelphia. Fortunately, the design resonated with people enough to make it the winner. I got the chance to stand on the field at PPL Park in front of 19,000 people. It was very special, too, because I got to share the moment with my friends.

FBM: How can fashion influence American soccer culture? What part does it play in American soccer culture?

I think fashion can influence American soccer culture if iconic American brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger embrace American soccer and promote the game with their clothing. By doing this, they expose people who never watched a game of soccer to the wonderful sport the same way Ralph Lauren did with his POLO line.

LBF Spring Fashion Show

Fashion’s role in American soccer culture can be looked at from two angles. The first is on the scale of the national team. American pride is on display at stadiums with flags waving and countless U.S. jerseys with “Donovan” and “Dempsey” written across the backs. However, this is a bit problematic because Nike wins in all of this. American soccer simply needs more fashion brands creating gear that people can wear in support of the national team. I honestly get a bit tired of seeing the same jerseys over and over again. A cool t-shirt is more versatile and more stylish than a jersey.

Fashion also shows the diversity in American soccer culture. I know a ton of guys who wear jerseys from countries they aren’t from just to show their support for or admiration of players from those countries. It is really inspiring to see how diverse American soccer fans are. I imagine this doesn’t happen in many other places in the world.

FBM: What’s upcoming for LBF? Any hints to the summer line?

LBF: There’s quite a lot upcoming for LBF. So far the brand has been run entirely by me, and in order to take it to the next level, I’ve teamed up with a good friend of mine who’s also soccer crazy to get things going. We also started an inter-collegiate league that features 24 universities in the tri-state area (NJ, DE, PA) called the Live Breathe Futbol Premier League. We will also launch a new website that’s pretty cool along with the summer line.

The summer line is going to be very relaxed. A lot of the pieces are understated and a departure from the graphically intense designs that the brand is known for. Summer is about kicking back, relaxing with your friends and not having a care in the world. The shirts will reflect that without losing the essence of living and breathing futbol.
 



 Check out Live Breathe Futbol for these and more awesome shirts!

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