We’re entering an era where football culture and lifestyle brands are leading the way into the future of the beautiful game. In an essence, independent community clubs and lifestyle brands like Guerrilla FC bridge the gap between the shining lights of the Premier League and the disillusioned local fan. Just as the Against Modern Football movement campaigns to bring football back to its roots, there is a revolution helping discover the untapped side of it’s culture gathering momentum, and Guerrilla FC are leading it.
However, Guerrilla FC is much more than just another lifestyle brand – it’s a community, a culture and a way of life. Collaborations with renowned designer Angelo Trofa, as well major manufacturers AMS and Macron within year one hint at the ambition the project carries, and the DC-based brand are setting their sights higher as they look to make their mark on Washington’s cultural revolution. After all, it’s in their motto. Infiltrate. Create. Influence.
Guerrilla FC founder Justin Salhani kindly agreed to sit down via email to discuss the background and identity behind the project.
IBWM: For those who don’t know, tell us a bit about Guerrilla FC.
JS: Guerrilla FC is a football club and a lifestyle brand. Our revolution is cultural - we believe in playing good football, looking stylish while doing it, and creating a culture around the game that extends to life off the pitch.
To be a member of Guerrilla or an Ultra is to understand that football is a lifestyle in itself. There is a culture around the game - art, fashion, philosophy, etc. At Guerrilla, our culture is a bit deeper. We philosophize about the game and the culture surrounding it. It's not cool for the sake of being cool. There's meaning behind everything we do and represent.
IBWM: How important is it to you that GFC represents Washington DC and the cultural revolution that is taking place in the capital?
JS: Washington DC is where we were founded. But I think the movement can apply almost anywhere. We wanted to create a space for ourselves in DC because football is about more than watching a game once a week or playing 90 minutes then going back to work. We wanted to live and breathe the game on a philosophical and aesthetic level. We hope to expand to a couple new cities in 2017/18.
For now, DC is still our hub and hopefully it will be for the foreseeable future. We've built a successful core there of players who represent our values. Our presence is growing but it's still an uphill fight for awareness in a city where Manchester United jerseys are ubiquitous, but too often football is seen as just another sport. A lot of fans will go to baseball or basketball matches on Tuesday and watch the Premier League on Sunday.
We want to find the people who don't let the game stop. Who switch from Serie A to Ligue Un. Who buy kits based on their ability to match their kicks. Who wants to trade books on football literature.
IBWM: The club combines two passions; creativity and football. How did you realise that you could combine these two passions?
JS: I'm not really sure how to answer this question. I think this is something we've always wanted in a way. This is definitely a global movement though and it's leaders are in New York and Paris.
IBWM: Do you think movements like GFC are important in making football more popular in the US and influencing the culture surrounding US soccer.
JS: Football has arrived in the US. MLS may be struggling in some places but you can just look at how full stadiums are when European clubs come to visit. American youths play football everywhere. We felt what was missing was a culture of depth. A football culture that extends outside of World Cup years or that 2hr block on a Sunday. We want to create a space that is open to the philosophical debates surrounding football and the culture/lifestyle.
We also have met so many players who felt hopeless. They felt they had to be athletes over artists and we want to show them that isn't true on the pitch and it isn't true off the pitch. There will always be a place for artists.
“We felt what was missing was a culture of depth. A football culture that extends outside of World Cup years or that two hour block on a Sunday.”
IBWM: How important is what you do off the pitch as important as what you do on it?
JS: We might say what we do off the pitch is more important. Nobody who has bought a shirt has asked about our record, though we are doing pretty well these days.
IBWM: Tell us a bit about the gear you produce. It’s certainly unique and impressive!
JS: To date, a lot has been camouflage inspired. We make sure everything we release is stylish and is filled with details relevant to our mission. To date, we've released two kits (a Macron and an AMS iteration). One is a greyscale camo with gold vinyl printed on the front and hot raspberry vinyl for the numbering. The Muumba, our latest release, is a yellow camouflage with a black, tribal top that is fully sublimated.
We've also released a scarf (sold out) and a number of smaller items you can see in our shop. We're also set for a host of new items in the fall. We're really excited about them and our partnership with a major storied football brand that is doing some really cool stuff on the lifestyle front. Keep your eyes locked on us.
IBWM: What next for GFC? Do you have plans to take the culture outside of DC?
JS: We do. We've got feelers out in a couple European cities at the moment and are looking into the prospect of satellite clubs. We'll announce more soon on that front. Also, we're releasing new gear in the fall. New kits with our new sponsor and a few lifestyle items are on the way. I don't want to give too much away right now but you'll be seeing more of Guerrilla soon.
You can keep up to date with Guetrilla FC’s latest works over at guerrillafc.com.
Follow Justin Salhani on Twitter at @JustinSalhani.