Growing up in Peterborough as a devoted Liverpool FC fan, stylist and editor Elgar Johnson has always been interested in the intersection between sport and culture. The i-D alum was previously at GQ Style as fashion director, then deputy editor, where he conceived the 15th-anniversary issue which incorporated the black square from the Black Lives Matter movement as a tool to spotlight changemakers. Now, Johnson's created a space where he can push conversations around culture even further, launching the publication CircleZeroEight.
The new biannual magazine, which is available in print and digital formats, specifically explores sport and culture. Following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, sports stars including Marcus Rashford rallied behind social causes which inspired Johnson to create a publication dedicated to showing 'the unique power of sport to thrill and entertain as well as overcome prejudice, intolerance and discrimination.'
Historically, sportswear was typically worn by working class style tribes, such as the 'casuals', who took sportswear as their uniform in the late 1970s and 1980s in Europe (as illustrated in a video essay by our fashion critic M-C Hill). Since then, sportswear has become an 'ever-evolving phenomenon' says Johnson. It's become part and parcel of luxury fashion, and in February Gucci collaborated with adidas on a full blown collection. Back in 2016, however, Johnson - who is a life-long tracksuit devotee - told SHOWstudio that he didn't believe the sportswear uniform belonged on the runway. 'The beauty of a tracksuit is that anyone can wear it at any time, as soon as you start putting things on catwalks, its like only a certain person can wear it.' There are designers such as Martine Rose and Saul Nash, who have used the humble tracksuit to tell stories about their own upbringings and communities, and the latter features in CircleZeroEight alongside other brands including Prada and Olympic-level sportswear stars, taking the conversation around sports, culture and style back to the stars of the show.
Issue 01 is titled FRESH, and launches exclusively with the Design Museum, before heading to stores on 5 May. West Ham and England international footballer Declan Rice graces one of three covers wearing Prada, British athlete and model Annie Jill Tagoe was styled by Katie Grand for another, and American Olympic medalist Carl Lewis covers the third. Nash, the aforementioned British menswear designer known for his spliced, icy coloured shell suits features alongside less sportswear inclined designers such as Ludovic de Saint Sernin, together with contributions by journalist Lauren Cochrane and photographs provided by the likes of Ewen Spencer and Sølve Sundsbø.
'We called the inaugural issue FRESH because we are trying to communicate about sport in a way that hasn’t been done before. Sport has a voice and power and that needs to be heard like never before. It’s not just political. Sportspeople are now the single biggest influencers on the planet', Johnson told press.