Yesterday’s Juventus-Genoa match plays out like something from an all-too-familiar sports movie. There is the announcer calmly raising the stakes in what is, for now, a 1-1 stalemate in its final stages: “30 seconds remaining, and is there time for one more chance here?” There is Cristiano Ronaldo creeping into the right side of the box, lurching to one side, and catching an opponent’s knee. The result is a climatic penalty kick. It’s raining, because of course it’s raining. Ronaldo steps to the spot, doesn’t hesitate, slots the ball into the left corner of the goal, and runs off, arms outstretched. His pose reveals the “Jeep” logo on his chest—which, strangely, is glowing a shade of green only seen in cheesy alien movies or Nickelodeon award shows. The too-cool kits also feel like costumes out of a Hollywood production—but instead are the result of a collaboration between Juventus, Adidas, and UK skate brand Palace.
The shirts themselves are phenomenal: striped vertically in Juventus’s familiar black and white and those green accents so radioactive they look like an Instagram filter gone wrong. The Jeep, Juventus, and Palace logos, as well as the name and number on the back of the kits, are all lit up like glow-in-the-dark toys. As the stripes run towards the bottom they pixelate. The goalie kit comes in an equally juicy tangerine. “It’s a great fusion between football and fashion,” Giorgio Ricci, Juventus’s chief revenue officer, said in a statement. “We wanted to surprise people, taking the field with a shirt that is the fruit of a collaboration with an iconic reality of the skate world at a global level. We thank our partner, Adidas for making this project possible.”
And boy, is it unlikely that such a project is in fact possible! It’s nothing short of extraordinary to consider that the best team in Italy’s Serie A football league wore kits made in collaboration with a renegade skate brand. It’s comparable to LeBron James and Anthony Davis stepping onto the Staples Center hardwood in Supreme x Lakers jerseys.
And yet, somehow, this is becoming a regular occurrence for the plucky Londoners. Last year, Palace collaborated with Adidas to dress several tennis players for Wimbledon in all-whites, with its name on the breast on polos and shirts—Angelique Kerber even lifted her championship trophy wearing the Adidas x Palace gear. And it doesn’t seem like Palace is just aiming to bask in the spotlight of major sporting events. Instead, there’s a calculated joke happening: Palace, famous for incredibly funny (and frequently rude) e-commerce copy, has somehow managed to breathe the rarefied air of the sport’s worlds biggest stages. What better joke than that?
Skate brands like Palace live and die on the references they make—whether that’s Supreme’s tees made with celebrities ranging from Lou Reed to Kate Moss or Noah dropping a range referencing The Cure. These Palace collaborations, though, twist that idea a little bit: understanding the spirit of the partner it’s working with and disrupting it ever so slightly—with massive logos on Wimbledon polos or acidic green accents on a soccer kit. It’s the same concept that made Palace’s Ralph Lauren collaboration such a smash. Take that collection’s Polo Bear avatar, for instance: while the mascot typically wears a tux or is buttoned-up in the clothes of men who count croquet as a serious athletic endeavor, Palace corrupted the bear ever so slightly by giving him a skateboard.
Palace plays the streetwear reference game as well as any brand. Its current fall/winter collection includes cheeky allusions to James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, the first must-have phone the Blackberry, and cigarette branding. But Palace understands that it’s not just about how funny you are or who you know, but about being so cool that even members of the establishment want to hang out with you, taking a break from winning soccer championships to blast cigs and heel-flip down the stairs outside school.
Originally Appeared on GQ