Newspaper article International New York Times

A Star on the Fashion Field

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Star on the Fashion Field

Article excerpt

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, captain of the Swedish national soccer team, explains why he dreams of being the Rick Owens of athleisure.

Last week, the international soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, captain of the Swedish national team, scheduled a news conference in Paris at precisely 5 p.m., three days before the start of the European Championship in France. Speculation began that the 34-year- old Swedish striker, who last month quit Paris St.-Germain of Ligue 1 after four seasons, was going to announce that he had signed with Manchester United in the English Premier League, a major score in professional soccer. But in Zlatan style, he zigged instead of zagged and faked them all out.

He wasn't joining another team -- at least not yet. He was jumping onto the athleisure bandwagon.

So began the unveiling of A-Z, a new activewear brand in a highly limited palette (navy, gray, white, black, and dark red) with relatively simple lines. Produced in partnership with the Norwegian retail group Varner, it will be available online in 11 European countries, with plans to roll out globally.

A few hours before the announcement, Mr. Ibrahimovic, who is 6- foot-5 and was dressed in an A-Z navy training suit and white performance T-shirt, spoke with The New York Times about the new company, his life philosophy and his view of fashion.

Q. Why start a clothing brand?

A.After 15 years of working with brands, including Puma and Nike, I had the dream to see other people wear my own brand. I know how brands work. They say: "Put on this shirt and you'll become stronger. Put on the pants and you'll become faster." But it's not about the gear at all. It's about you and what you want to do. Everybody has the possibility. You just need to take it.

Q. Why did you call the company A-Z?

A.You can look at it in different ways. In training, you can bring it from A to Z. Or it can be the time it takes, from A to Z. Or it can be from amateur to Zlatan.

Q. You aren't the first Swedish athlete to do sportswear. The tennis legend Bjorn Borg has a line, too.

A.He has underwear, I believe.

Q. I think there's more to it than that.

A.Like those little shorts? …

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