Sports  “It’s just that previously, you might not have seen us”

The McGill Daily talks to SEASON zine founder Felicia Pennant

SEASON zine is a London England based soccer and fashion magazine that puts women first. Publishing biannual print issues, hosting events, and selling merchandise, SEASON aims to empower women in football culture: whether they’re playing, watching, or designing. Founder and editor-in-chief Felicia Pennant sat down with Rosalind Sweeney-McCabe of The McGill Daily to talk about the magazine, fashion, and what it means to be a fan of the beautiful game.

 

SEASON ZINE

McGill Daily (MD): I was wondering how SEASON came about, generally speaking.

Felicia Pennant (FP): I always wanted to do some kind of magazine because I’ve always been into fashion and magazines. I actually went to St. Martin’s [College] and did fashion history and theory there, so I worked at Elle and GQ and went to America and New York and worked at magazines, but I always thought that at some point I’d like to do my own. Then I did my final year thesis on footballers and metrosexuality and, kind of, ideals of masculinity and how footballers wearing suits were portrayed in fashion magazines, so I turned to GQ and spent a lot of time there. Stuff about David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Balotelli, and Didier Drogba, who had a really cool l’Uomo Vogue shoot back when that magazine was still alive. Then, over the course of my internships, I was meeting loads of really cool creative women who were also into football. I thought that was really cool, that it wasn’t just me. So all of these things [came] together and then one day I just saved money and said, okay, I’m going to do this and see what happens with it. I found people to work with on Instagram, and all I had was a really poorly-done powerpoint showing what I want to do and who I want to speak to. A friend of a friend was a graphic designer who helped me put it together. We put the the first one out called “The Female Fan,” with the idea of speaking to women that were involved in fashion but also football fans. I liked the DIY feel of it. [I had gone] to the British Library and found there an incredible collection of fan zines. With stapled paper, photocopied, you know. So SEASON is kind of elevating that, putting that into magazine format.

MD: I read your interview for Us and Femme, and I was really interested in how you talk about SEASON and archives, and particularly how fashion and football has such a history in England. Could you speak on how SEASON zine is kind of an archive for women in football?

FP: I think that’s something I’ve become more aware of as we’ve been making the magazines. There’s really not much else out there talking about female fans. We are in the British Library now and also the National Football Museum. Sometimes SEASON is used as an educational resource, too, because when people talk about fans, women aren’t usually represented or given a voice. The whole magazine is really just about how women interact and engage with football. So yeah, that’s something I have in mind when I’m making a new issue. We try to tell these interesting stories, but of course we’re just a magazine with a finite number of pages. There’s so many more amazing people out there, so we also do events where we try to bring people together. I always ask people about women’s football and I think a lot of people think that SEASON is about women’s football. Yes, but we’re really about women in football, and that can be men’s football too. In fact, it’s more likely to be men’s football, as we concentrate on the supporters and the fashion around football, and there are just so many more fans in the men’s game.

MD: How do you see older women interacting with the magazine, and just generally, how do you think the demographic of the magazine will change? Because I think my mum’s generation of women is a bit less enthusiastic [about football].

FP: I mean, that’s something that’s on my mind. Like we did a soccer mum piece where we had a range of ages. A football nail art piece was inspired by an older woman who had done her nails to match her club. Two of the ladies that we did a betting [gambling] piece with were in their forties. I try to focus more on a person’s story than their age, but I will say that looking at the staff that I do have, we’re really all 25 to 35, mostly from London. Some people from New York and Paris.

MD: And those are the cities where your magazine is stocked?

FP: Yes, we tried to get stocked in Canada but we just don’t have the ability to print enough. Right now it’s in stores across Europe, and a few in Asia, and the U.S., but of course you can buy it online or read it on the website. I send it out worldwide personally. I go to the post office to send them off. I’ve sent them to Australia, Japan, China, literally around the world. Scandinavia a lot. There’s a lot of interest.

MD: Do you see SEASON increasing its circulation? How do you want to grow?

FP: Ideally, yeah, but everything does come down to money and what we can afford. Production and printing costs a lot, and we don’t have much to begin with. The way I see SEASON growing is trying to be more global. We started off as a really close group in London, maybe a couple in Manchester and Liverpool, but then we hit France, so we’re starting to think more globally and also doing events and parties to create a more rounded program. Thinking about ways in which we can bring women together to connect and be empowered. The overall goal is really to empower women in football. There’s plenty of women who love football. It’s just that previously, you might not have seen us. We’re trying to dispel the stereotype of a football fan being a man. When I was younger, the female football fan was always stereotyped as a tomboy, or lesbian, or this, or that. I’m not a tomboy. I’m just a very big football fan. And I know loads of other women who are too. We’re trying to be really diverse, showing as many cool stories as possible, and connect and empower women by showcasing as many as possible. A lot of people just want to speak about football, and I hope SEASON is a safe space and platform for that.

MD: Football’s aesthetic history, too, is so long and always evolving. Talking about fashion theory, I think football often reflects what’s going on in the fashion world to an extent.

FP: It does. That’s basically why I decided to do this. I did fashion history and theory in uni, and the idea that everything you wear reflects what’s going on: you send a message with what you wear. As a football fan wearing football clothing, you’re communicating a message about football. SEASON being a record of this moment in time, we’re archiving what’s happening right now. It could eventually be a primary resource, you know. I’d like to think that in the future someone might use my magazine as a primary source in their essay, like people do with Vogue.

 

FASHION

MD: Fashion in football has always been linked with the English Premier League, in groups like the casuals [English supporter groups in the 1980s]. Do you think the intersection of fashion and football has a particular flavour in Britain? Is there a long history of it there?

FP: Certainly. I mean, a football match is a place where you dress up to go. And with the casuals and other football hooligans, they were groups, and they all dressed the same, developing distinct ways to show support for their team. I think with men, there’s the idea of peacocking. And that goes with casuals and their designer labels. The fact that Liverpool were playing in Europe in the eighties and their supporters were able to go to Italy and other places and discover these brands and wear them in their own way. Now, of course, everyone can do that. I think where women come into that is that there’s this historical perception that fashion is a female thing. So if you’re into football as a woman you can find way more ways to express that. As a Chelsea fan, I wear blue in my hair. You can get your nails done. You can wear make-up. You can do so much more in traditionally ‘feminine’ styles. Football fashion is so much a part of culture that even if you’re not necessarily a fan, you’ve been affected by football somehow. I don’t know if you saw the SS18 shows but Lacoste did a collaboration with Paris Saint-Germain. And Rihanna’s FW collection had really cool football dresses and deconstructed football shirts. Off-White worked with Umbro as well. And the footballers themselves are models too, so brands realize the influence of these athletes. Cristiano Ronaldo has so many different clothing lines of his own. Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] has a line. Neymar has designed stuff in collaboration with people. They’re all getting in there, and when you have that following you see that people care what they’re wearing.

MD: Wearing football clothing as women, there is a certain kind of androgyny to it. More designers now are making clothing that works for both men and women, so I think sportswear and football wear kind of fits into that. I think brands are catching on to that in some ways.

FP: Yes, although I wish they could make things that are specifically for women, rather than tagging us on to the end. It’d be nice to have actual, like, women’s clothing.

 

BEING A FAN

MD: You’re a Chelsea supporter you say?

FP: Yeah, definitely. I think people, especially women now, are unafraid to say that they’re fans. . . they’re proud of it. I was at Glastonbury wearing my [Chelsea] hat and you just had people coming out everywhere like “Oh, you’re a Chelsea fan,” and there’s always a bit of banter there with them. So it’s just super funny. It’s hard as a woman doing things like that though, you’re lucky to have a friend with you in situations like that. It can be quite lonely sometimes. You have to find friends that can be interested in [football] with you. To watch Match of the Day with, listen to TalkSport.

MD: My friend and I watch every weekend. We have a couple other friends who join us sometimes, but in Canada it’s not really the culture, so finding other supporters can be a bit difficult. We go to certain cafes to watch where there’s all these old men and us.

FP: I love that though! That’s how I was watching for years. Like going to the pub with a friend. Or finding a stream online. Usually though, I’d go to the pub with my dad, have a drink. We still do that now, really. I’ve gotten lucky with getting tickets to Stamford Bridge but really it’s so expensive these days. I live in South London, and everyone round here is a Chelsea fan so you’re with your people. I have sat in a pub myself or been that annoying friend on holiday. When Chelsea was in the Europa League final, I was in Paris at the time. I turned to my friend and said “Look, we need to find a place to watch this,” and I went and found a cafe and watched it and we won and it was great.

MD: What’s interesting about football [to me] is that everyone has a different experience but there’s so many similarities present in those experiences.

FP: Yes, everyone shares the same moments, but then reacts and engages with those moments in such different ways. You’re totally right about that. What is it like in Canada? What I find so incredible is that here in South London, I’m right next to my team. Chelsea is right there. The level of fandom that people have halfway across the world is incredible. I don’t even know if I would be so ardent if it wasn’t so easy for me to be a fan, you know?

MD: Yeah, I think a lot of it for me is my family. My grandparents sending me Liverpool hats to take on holiday, things like that. I’ve been playing since I was like four. I think it’s a really important way for a lot of people in Canada to keep a connection to their family, or where they come from. A lot of people from England support Premier League clubs, or others supporting teams from where they come from. It becomes a way to hold on, I guess, to where we come from. It’s something our families have done and continue to do. It feels like a bit of a secret handshake. You’ll go places and just know. People will be at a cafe working on their laptops and then suddenly a bunch of football fans come in and the owner turns the TV volume all the way up and everyone is screaming in the middle of the day. I guess that’s the way a lot of us in Canada engage with the sport.

FP: Yeah, and then there’s the World Cup. Is Canada in the World Cup?

MD: No, [laughs] our men’s team is kind of trash so I support England in the World Cup. But our women’s team is really good, although most people only tune into that for the Olympics. There is a women’s World Cup, but in Canada, you only really hear about the Olympics for Women’s football. It’s one of the only summer sports we can win, I guess.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Felicia Pennant and SEASON zine continue to work towards more representation of women in the world of soccer by focussing on the fan experience and the fashion that goes with it all. Issue 5 will come out on May 2018, but until then, SEASON can be found on Instagram and Twitter: @season_zine. Issues 2-4 are also for sale at www.season-zine.com