Book Review: The Fashion of Football: From Best to Beckham, from Mod to Label Lover by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter.

The illustrated hardback edition of this book was published by Mainstream Publishing in November 2004, with an eBook distributed by Wholepoint Publications in August 2011. It is the latter version of this work by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter that was read for the purposes of this review. This detailing of the date and format may not seem the normal way to start a review, but in one of those strange twists of fate it became relevant when reading the eBook.

Towards the end of the book there is a chapter entitled United Colours of Beckham which for the most part extols the virtues of the lad from East London and his place as both footballer and fashion role model. However, when the hardback edition was released at the back end of 2004, Hewitt and Baxter reflected;

“…2004 arrived and with it a massive sea change. Beckham’s form dipped badly…during this torrid time on the field came another storm, this time from outside. Beckham was publicly accused of infidelity, a massive blow to his image as devoted family man…Beckham travelled to Portugal to captain England in the Euro 2004 tournament…often he seemed tired, somewhat lost even as the battle raged around him…by the tournaments end…Beckham faced the press…knowing it was Wayne Rooney the advertisers now desired…”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but in the eight years since, Beckham has proved himself to be an iconic figure. His England career extended to 115 caps and he became integral to a successful Real Madrid team, before taking on new challenges in the USA with Los Angeles Galaxy and loan spells with AC Milan. From fashion through to his role as an Ambassador for the 2012 London Olympics, David Robert Joseph Beckham has been there and done it. As I finished the last pages of this eBook, Beckham announced that he was moving on again, looking for one last football challenge in his career. Even once his boots are finally hung up, you know that Beckham will still be in the limelight, an influential figure. Wayne Rooney? Well 2004 may prove to be the highlight of his international career. Compare the brilliance and exuberance of the teenager who burst onto the scene in Portugal to the sneering man who slatted England fans who dared to complain about the abysmal World Cup campaign in South Africa in 2010. I may be wrong, but…

However, returning to the eBook. In terms of its writers, Paolo Hewitt (a Spurs fan), has a background in music, having worked as a journalist on NME and been involved in numerous books of the musical genre. He also collaborated with Oasis bassist Paul McGuigan on a book about Reading and Cardiff City player, Robin Friday, titled The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw. The Fashion of Football was co-writer Mark Baxter’s (a Millwall season-ticket holder), first venture into the publishing world. Both men are fanatics of the trinity that is, football, fashion and music. The love and understanding of these topics translates into this book. Indeed the relationship between the two writers creates a very readable and comfortable conversational tone. Hewitt and Baxter whilst knowledgeable about the subject matter, also show us that they are still fans at heart, and are ‘star-struck’ in carrying out some of the interviews transcribed in the eBook. Amongst those interviewed from the football world were ex-players Alan Hudson, Alan Birchenall, Frank McLintock, Mike Summerbee, Steve Perryman and the “Peckham Beckham” Darren Ward (who was playing for Millwall back in 2004). From the music industry there are contributions from Steve Diggle, Paul McGuigan and Kevin Rowland, whilst from fashion, included are Mark Powell, Tim and Olaf Burro and William Hunt.

The content is really divided into two elements. The first takes the reader on a journey through the development and influence of players on fashion (and vice-versa). 1962 is used as the starting point, as this was the year that the maximum wage for footballers was abolished and therefore suddenly provided them with disposable income to spend, on such items such as clothes. Figures such as George Best and the London set of the 1960’s and 70’s including Bobby Moore and Martin Peters (both West Ham United), Peter Osgood, David Webb and Eddie McCreadie (all Chelsea), are all detailed as the hand-made suit swept through the football fraternity. The King’s Road, Carnaby Street and Savile Row are all here as the journey continues through the various decades to the 2004, from the infamous FA Cup Final Liverpool FC ‘white suits’ to the perms and mullets of Keegan and Waddle. A journey which has seen footballers become fashion followers and in some cases icons. In the second section, the focus is more on the terrace culture and what was ‘in’ and ‘out’ for the football fashionitas, as the rise of ‘labels’ came to the fore. Running through both elements are brief descriptions from the clothes and hair perspectives of particular times and fashions, which were great little insights. These started with, The Mod’s Formal Dressing Room 1963 and went through the following, The Mod Casual’s Dressing Room 1965, The Skinhead’s Dressing Room 1970, The Suedehead’s Dressing Room 1972, The Soulboy’s Dressing Room 1973, The Casual’s Dressing Room 1982, The Formal Label Slave’s Dressing Room 2004, finishing with The Casual Label Slave’s Dressing Room 2004.

Ultimately, it was a book I did enjoy and would recommend for the fact that it does provide a different angle on football through the mediums of fashion and music. The writers’ enthusiasm is infectious, and the level of research is impressive and both translated to me as a reader. My one gripe with the eBook is that despite the great subject matter, it suffers, because unlike it hardback original, there are no pictures or illustrations to support the images that the words create. Despite that though, worth a read.

FBR Copyright 20214 All rights reserved.

Posted November 23, 2012 by Editor in category "Reviews


  1. By Irvin on

    Your post, Book Review: The Fashion of Football: From Best to Beckham, from Mod to Label Lover by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter. football book reviews, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from Irvin!


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