Brandon Huntley is 23 and was raised in North Carolina. He’s played football, or “soccer”, as Americans call it, since he was four and supports Charlotte FC. He’s also got a keen sense of style, with a penchant for bootcut jeans, football tops and vintage tees; all of which are readily available from the vintage store he works at.
Way across the pond in London is Max Keefe. He’s 23 too, and a third-generation die-hard Chelsea fan. Like Huntley, Max is obsessed with style and footie. He recently landed a job at a well-known secondhand clothes-selling app and regularly posts what he’s worn recently.
And then there’s Nick Ramos, 21, from New York. He was “seven or eight” when he visited London for the first time. He watched a football game and was hooked. He’s supported Tottenham Hotspurs ever since. He’s also into fashion, posting “thrift hauls” and “fit checks” most weeks on TikTok.
These three lads – all fans of footie, fashion and TikTok – are just a few of those at the forefront of the internet’s latest trend: blokecore.
At first glance, blokecore isn’t a new look – especially not to British people. If anything, it’s a law of averages among football fans, with a throwback twist. Social media consultant Georgia Aldridge describes the aesthetic as “vintage replica football tops, baggy or straight-leg jeans (often Levi’s) and mainly Adidas trainers”. You’ve seen it all before, on lads and dads across the country. At Wrexham AFC last weekend, for instance, the beer garden was steaming with Adidas Originals and old denim.
The difference is that this look is now an internet fad, among young people, including Americans. Huntley is partly responsible for that – beginning with a friend commenting “bloke” under one of his posts as a joke. “We used to play a lot of FIFA, and we’d watch British Youtubers: AJ3, KSI; the Sidemen generally,” explains Huntley. “They’d say random words like ‘bloke’ all the time. My friend referenced it ironically.”
If blokecore resembles anything, it might be another, much older football-fashion movement: the casuals. The true origin of casual culture is debated, but it’s generally thought to have emerged in the late seventies as the “spiritual heir” of 60s mods. Instead of Fred Perry and Ben Sherman, though, casuals opted for garms from European designers like Stone Island, C.P Company and Sergio Tacchini. These clothes would be bought following their club to football games in Europe, meaning their outfits symbolised a fierce dedication to the game.
Casuals appeared to take the footie lifestyle and fashion a lot more seriously than those into the blokecore trend. Neal Heard, author of A Lover's Guide to Football Shirts, says that “back in the day, they’d have been called ‘scarfers’ by the casuals”, referring to blokecore. “Casuals would never, ever wear a replica kit – they didn’t want people knowing who they supported, really.”
There is one major similarity with casual fashion: Adidas Sambas, which appear to be the main shoe of the blokecore look. Many videos under the hashtag are exclusively about styling Sambas. Heard agrees that Sambas are “steeped in casuals history”. In that sense, you could argue that blokecore is a bit of a bastardisation of football subcultures (Huntley hadn’t heard of casuals when asked, wondering if they were “the same as [football] ultras”. His appreciation for Sambas, he says, was inherited from his “dad, and ASAP Nast”.)
It’s true that Sambas have generally been having a broader moment over the last few years anyway. ASAP Nast, ASAP Rocky and Rihanna have all been spotted wearing the shoe. In the UK, Vogue columnist Raven Smith is known for repping Sambas and South London designer Grace Wales Bonner has done multiple sneaker collaborations with Adidas, including Sambas, with some going for over £800 online.
Football shirts have been sneaking back into fashion, too, with countless brands referencing the game over the last few years, from Balenciaga to Patta. Some major fashion brands – like Stella McCartney, Palace and Moncler have even worked directly with top-flight football teams. With football remaining the most-watched sport globally, it makes sense that its mammoth and decades-long cultural influence might eventually find its way to younger TikTok creators and fashion fans.
Indeed, much of the blokecore vids are people posting their vintage football tee collection or else obscure football kit finds from places like Japan and Colombia. Keefe prefers a mixture of obscure kits and those of his team, Chelsea. “At the moment I have a training sleeveless vest from the ‘05/‘06 season on order,” he says, referring to Chelsea. “I can wear it all summer, I know nobody else will be wearing it, and I’m repping my team. I also prefer our old badge, design-wise.”
Ramos owns all three of Tottenham’s kits for this season. “It's just another chance for me to mix my love for fashion with my love for my soccer team,” he says. “I like the modern kits and keeping up with the seasons.” He’s always worn this stuff, he says, even though he’d often been told it was “uncool” previously.
But blokecore isn’t all about the clobber. On TikTok, you’ll also see videos of pints being sunk and slideshows of kebab shops and curry takeaways accompanied by music by bands like The Jam and The Stone Roses, or occasional bangers from The Streets, Orbital and Underworld. It’s a weird melding of working class, lad and more general British culture. The kind of stuff your mate’s Gen X dad might be into.
Keefe, who can be seen knocking the top off a bottle of Corona in the park in one video, says the lifestyle aspect is generally “stuff associated with a match day: beers while walking to the stadium because it’s cheaper and easier, a curry or a kebab on the way home, tops off because it’s hot. I like to call it ‘gamedaycore’, really.” Huntley is more on the fashion edge of the trend, and has “never had a Stella”.
Ramos thinks the lifestyle aspect will creep into American soccer, too. “The MLS [Major League Soccer, the US football league] is having a moment”, he points out. This is partly thanks to the men’s national team climbing from 35th to 15th place across the last decade in the FIFA world rankings, and also due to the clubs attracting more talented players. Atlanta United FC currently averages a crowd of around 43,965, which would place them eighth in Premier League attendance this season. Match day food account @FootyScran even has a big US following. Who knows: Maybe Americans really are going to start sinking eight pints before grabbing a doner kebab and chips for the way home.
Either way, with a blazing hot summer on the horizon and a FIFA World Cup in December, blokecore shows no signs of immediately slowing down. Even if the TikTok creators get bored, this is a look and vibe that’s been around for generations and worn globally. Whether it’s known as “blokecore” or as something else entirely, it’s clearly not going anywhere.