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AOF Button Down Under

Leah Williamson wearing Art of Football reworked shirt at the World Cup in Sydney
At AOF, we love a reactive design. We see a moment, we want to immortalise it- it’s just who we are. So this WWC, we wanted to push that boundary to the limit. Test the waters on just how reactive we can be. Make something completely unique. A game-changing tournament deserves a game changing fit, and so came the birth of the AOF button down under.
A blank AOF button down, hand-crafted by our in-house rework team, with a pledge to embroider the most iconic moments in AOF reactive style across the span of the tournament.. We wanted to document the tournament the way we know how- through creativity and quick turnovers, made all the more straightforward by having to navigate communications between the UK and Australia. Look, what’s life without a challenge? But we’re pleased to say, it turned out pretty good . According to Penalty, it ‘bridges the realms of football and fashion’, while Little Black Book marked the button down under as ‘a snapshot of football history’.
So good in fact, that we were lucky enough to capture some famous faces wearing the Button Down Under with us in Sydney. None other than Leah Williamson and Jill Scott. Lioness heroes, history makers, wearing a piece of history. How’s that for full circle?
Kicking off with the New Zealand v Norway game was nothing short of a strong start. The first win for New Zealand in a World Cup, men’s or women’s, was owed to Hannah Wilkinson’s 48th minute goal. And let’s be honest, history built in the first game of the tournament set the tone for the month ahead pretty astutely. 
On the other side of New Zealand’s experience, we had to recreate  *that* Phillipines goal against them. A tournament of firsts, Bolden marked the first goal for the Philippines in any World Cup. A header that we hope to be engrained into our memories until the end of time, and then some. An absolutely stunning moment in the group stages.
If we’re going to talk about game changers, and leaders of the next generation, it would be a crime to forget about Jamaica. A team partially reliant on crowdfunding in order to play at the World Cup, defeating France 1-0.  ‘Wi likkle but wi tallawah’. The Reggae Girlz showed us that they didn’t come to play.
Linda Caicedo. A Colombian hero. A threat to anyone she comes near on the pitch. Real Madrid’s superstar seemed to be the name on everyone’s lips this summer, and we aren’t surprised after the goal against Germany. A powerhouse who has scored in three world cups in the space of a year, Cacaeido’s goal celebration was a non-negotiable for this shirt. 
The first player on a World Cup in a hijab, Benzina is a trailblazer and nothing short of a role model. With Morocco making history as the first North African or Arabian nation to quality for a World Cup, Benzina catalyses that impact through unapologetically representing her identity on the pitch. A leader of the game. 
National pride is an overriding theme of any major tournament. Rivalries, chants, a sea of shirts- and Panama’s post loss celebration could well be labelled as the tournament’s pinnacle of it. Flags waving, drums banging, probably a couple of lost voices in the morning. New embroidery secured.
There’s nothing quite like a penalty to make people feel sick to their stomachs (in a good way we think?) With a penalty faster than any done in the Premier League, there’s a reason we Brits love Chloe Kelly that much. Chloe Kelly and penalties- name a more iconic duo. Go on, honestly. Exactly. You can’t. 
A bit of a touchy subject for USA we’d assume, especially after that Sweden one. 1mm. We won’t lie- we’d hate to have the experience that feeling of losing by a literal millimetre, but it’s a dog eat dog world and we couldn’t help but add a little nod to it on the shirt. Sorry USA.
There’s one woman who, no matter what happened throughout those 4 weeks, always had a key space on the button down under. A World Cup veteran, and legend of the game. It’s always been Marta. It’s a bittersweet feeling seeing Brazil knocked out by the Reggae Girlz, but the impact of Marta is undeniable. Her last World Cup. The passing of the baton. 
We’d be lying if, as England supporters, we didn’t feel threatened by Japan. Masters on the pitch, in what we might consider one of the most stunning away kits we’ve seen, and with the advantage of hosting 
Miyazawa on the pitch. The tournament’s lead goal scorer, with 5 goals to her name. Icon.
It’s not a WWC23 shirt without credit to Australia. We’ll give it to them, we were nervous for that semi final match. Of course we were. And after spending nearly a month down-under, there was a small part of us that really felt for the Tillies and their fans. Their embodiment of passion and pride, that heart shaped, post match congregation said it all about the love in football.
So we get to the final. And while it is a bit of a tough one for any Brit to write about, there’s also a huge level of pride. A world cup final, halfway across the world, with a team of women that have not only achieved personal success in football, but kickstarted that love for football in the UK all over again. 
As a Nottingham based brand, [AOF] couldn’t build a shirt without a nod to the Nott’s finest, Mary Earps. Mary Queen of Stops. Football’s tiktok queen. A weapon in goal, and a Saint to the nation. We could never pick favourites, but she’s very high up there. VERY high up. 
And so we reach the end. 1-0 to Spain. Campeonas 2023. Carmona’s 29th minute goal, etched into history. 
200,000 stitches.⁠
22 moments etched into history.⁠
An experience we’ll never forget.⁠
A tournament of record breakers, net shakers and history makers.⁠
We set out to create the most reactive piece of clothing at a tournament ever. What transpired was something beyond our wildest imaginations.

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