Game Changers – Climate Clubs

Kyle Harman – Turner explains why football and sports need to talk about climate change

Football can be much more than the ethereal concept of the Beautiful Game. It can be an essential tool for elevating crucial, cross-cutting issues for contemporary society, such as climate change. Kyle Harman – Turner has studied and understood the communicative relevance of the world’s most popular sport. In front of his beloved West Ham matches, he examined the possibility of using sacred symbols such as jerseys, crests, and club names to spread one virtuous message: the Earth must be protected. From the Premier League to football and sports around the globe, the horizons of the Climate Clubs project speak the language of virtuous awareness, a language made up of ironic sentences and contemporary design: the ideal mix to reach every generation of fans and enthusiasts, educating them about one of the biggest issues of present and future society. We explore Climate Clubs through the testimony of its creator.

How did the Climate Clubs project come about?

I worked in advertising for 20 years. I had my own agency and was communicating with clients who were spending a lot of money to spread products that were harmful to the world. I started asking myself a question: what could we do if we focused on communicating about climate change? So I decided to quit my job and enrolled in a course dedicated to sustainability at Cambridge University. During the lectures, I was immediately struck by one sentence: it’s not a scientific issue, it’s a communication issue. The science is clear on this topic, yet so many people struggle to understand it. And they are not guilty of that. Football has always been my passion, I’m a longtime West Ham season ticket holder, I’ve also been a journalist, and I’ve had the opportunity to cover events like the World Cup in South Africa. When my son was born I knew I had to do something and try to merge these two universes. I was driven by an inner instinct.

Can you tell us some examples of your virtuous creativity? What have been the reactions of the people and, especially, the fans?

The fans and, in particular, my brother are the real guides in this project. He is an old-school West Ham fan and has never been interested in climate change: if I can change his mindset through our work, it means we’re hitting the target. Many fans are skeptical, but you have to think that a large part of our society is still convinced that climate change is something distant and imperceptible. For so many, climate change is equivalent to the exotic image of a polar bear, which has little to do with our everyday lives. Carlisle United, for example, has to pay huge insurance costs annually because Brunton Park (their stadium), is annually subject to flooding. It is estimated that 23 of the 92 stadiums in English professional football will be flooded by 2050…. That’s why we came up with the ‘Close to Home’ series, reworking the kits of all these teams. Another important project was the one related to Brentford FC. The ‘Bees’ are the ideal platform to communicate that 13 species of these insects have been lost in the UK since 1990. The ‘Wildflower Fireworks – Every bang re-wildflowers the square foot of a football pitch’ project narrates this dramatic extinction, a consequence of the equally dramatic loss of 97 percent of British wildflowers since 1930. Then we created a series of football flags for the Royal Academy of Arts, focused on the logos of various teams. We received thousands of emails/messages, mostly from young fans. So many decided to buy them, knowing that the proceeds would be donated to entities fighting the deterioration of our Earth. Many of them bought flags of rival teams….

What role do and will footballers and clubs play in this awareness-raising process?

Footballers have the power to influence and change the behavior of thousands of fans in a single instant. In the UK, number 10’s like Rashford or Lineker, have much more power and impact than 10 Downing Street. If I were asked to choose between Rashford and any minister as a spokesperson for the fight against climate change, I would always choose Rashford. We are lucky that players like Bellerin are very committed, and we can find many other examples as well: Smalling has his own green company, Bamford has created a goal celebration dedicated to climate change, and Ben Mee recently initiated the first ‘carbon neutral’ transfer in English football history…. So many players are connecting and bonding to our vision and, at the same time, becoming ambassadors for the health of our planet. The feeling is that more and more football figures are concerned about what is happening, and the same thing can be said about clubs and institutions. An evolution is taking place, and it is evidenced by the fact that the Premier League is drafting ad hoc laws. The world of football is realizing that you cannot be perfect, of course, but you can and must do something more for the Planet. Now it will be up to top international footballers to step up and it will be up to clubs to follow virtuous examples such as the Forest Green Rovers one – a League Two (English fourth tier) team that is reducing its impact on the environment to zero and developing a system of total energetic self-sufficiency. They have also created a vegan food chain, which was initially sold inside the stadium and later began to be distributed throughout England. It is a double victory and is the right way to go.

How will you develop the Climate Clubs project in the future? And how do you see the future of our planet?

Sports is bigger than logic, it creates real emotions and connects people. And this vast social space has not yet been used concretely to spread the word about climate change. We don’t want Climate Clubs to be limited to football; our desire is to collaborate with all major sports in the world. I am talking about major American sports, organizations like the NBA and the NFL, which are capable of touching people and fans at every latitude of the globe. The more the message is shared, the better it will take root. Sports and football have taught me that there is always hope, as in the case of the famous ‘Christmas Truce’ during World War I. Sports has the power to bring people together, especially in hard times. And it will continue to do so.

Credits: Climate Clubs


Game Changers – Christopher Raeburn

Circular economy and sustainability combine with personal heritage and a passion for sport in the mind behind the virtuous brand RÆBURN

“When I was studying in college, people would ask me which designer or brand I was inspired by. I couldn’t answer, and I thought that was a problem. I was just obsessed with things from the past, especially original military garments. Many of my colleagues were already attuned to pre-existing companies or figures, while my point of view was different. I couldn’t define what kind of designer I was, but I started by pursuing my own ideas and got lucky in the end.”

Evolution derives from the past. Or rather, evolution comes from a new relationship with the past, its study, and its reinterpretation in a sustainable way. Christopher Raeburn has become something more than just a fashion innovator. Through his adolescent connection with military memorabilia and second-hand uniforms, he has changed the outlook of an entire industry, becoming a leader in a vital global process: the reinvention of an enormously destructive relationship, that of fashion and sustainability.

Born amongst the peaceful landscapes of southern England, Christopher founded the eponymous RÆBURN brand through passion and instinct, charting a path toward responsible and intelligent design dedicated as much to functionality and aesthetics as to environmental conservation. He and his team have been creating a worldwide following for over a decade, shedding light on one of the darkest taboos in the fashion industry. But let’s start from the beginning.

“I grew up in rural Kent along with two brothers. Our parents taught us to appreciate nature. Living in an isolated area helped foster my creativity: when you are a child, and the nearest store is miles away, you constantly have to find ways to entertain yourself. Between the ages of 12 and 18, I was part of the Air Cadets, an organization that brings young people closer to the Royal Force. I loved football, MTB, and DH, but once a month, the Air Cadets let us try out wonderful things, like flying airplanes and helicopters. We were all using these terrible old uniforms because they were cheap, so I started studying and buying more uniforms and materials. I was creating my own collection without even knowing it. Oddly, Kent also hosts one of the biggest expositions in Europe dedicated to military materials, and it always fascinated me. I used to go there on the first day to check out the rarest things and then again on the last day, because the vendors would leave behind piles of materials they thought were useless. When I started college, I realized those technical and waterproof materials were the same ones used by big fashion companies, and they were often unavailable. The decision to found a sustainable brand resulted from this natural cognitive process.”

From military expositions to the catwalk. That long-ago creative genesis gave rise to the concept of circular economy and the concept of remade. These notions continue to combine with personal heritage and awareness inside the futuristic RÆBURN labs, which have succeeded in becoming benchmarks for a myriad of primary and secondary players across the fashion scene. Based in London, the 40-year-old Christopher Raeburn directs a brand that has become a manifesto of the unexpected synergy between the natural ecosystem and fashion production. He does so by inspiring and being inspired, moving in a direction that is vital not only to the fate of his own industry, but to the preservation of all humanity.

“The fashion industry has the potential to renew itself quickly. It’s demonstrated that. Over the past decades, I‘ve also seen changes in the narrative related to sustainability. Twenty years ago, I designed my first remade jacket and it was viewed as a radical idea. A few later, everyone started to see tangible examples of how green philosophy began to permeate the visions of so many brands. Again, not many industries have the opportunity to evolve at the same pace as the fashion industry. These dynamics are driven especially by big sports brands, continually focused on finding new materials and eco-strategies. When I founded my brand, some recycled materials cost 30-50% more than non-recycled materials. Today, they cost the same. In addition, digitization and social media are helping us communicate certain values and actions, and technology in general is opening up endless paths for fashion sustainability. There is a lot of room to reduce pollution and waste in this chaotic industry; you just have to be smart about it. Everything can be useful: in the early days of my brand, for example, I discovered how valuable parachutes were. Imagine that each parachute, even if never used, is decommissioned ten years after its creation and its materials can be reused for clothing….”

Christopher Raeburn’s rational yet futuristic dogmas might seem complex to translate into action, but they are powerful, absolute truths. They are cornerstones from which every fashion house and production chain should draw, shaping a new collective direction. They represent progress that stops being style for its own sake, sublimating design into activism. That’s why giants like Timberland and Moncler have relied on Raeburn’s innovations and why iconic brands like Vans have sought collaborations with the universe driven by the ‘RÆMADE, RÆDUCED, RÆCYLED’ philosophy. This has moved Christopher to turn his attention to his beloved sports landscape.

“There’s only one real question: how can we effect change and make a difference on a global scale? I get to collaborate with various brands to pursue this goal. I am talking about universally recognized brands; for example, I’ve been developing a shared path for a while now with Timberland. My team and I assess every collaboration because we want it to be credible and fair. It’s true; we are sometimes cynical, but we have to protect our values. Sports is also part of this thinking. Our collection with Vans, for example, the iconic brand linked to skate culture and the concept of sports functionality. Or the recent development of the KIT:BAG project, entirely dedicated to football. Football has been a common thread in my life since 1991 when I fell in love with Tottenham, who won the FA Cup that year. I was nine years old and couldn’t imagine my favorite team ever losing again…. I always follow cups and leagues, and not long ago I began to wonder where the kits of the various Premier League teams ended up at the end of a single season. Every year, the Premier teams alone produce about 19 million jerseys for their fans, so many go unsold. This is a huge waste, and we thought we could reuse those jerseys to create special bags, which can then be recycled. The momentum is building now as more and more teams are taking an interest in this issue. And these numbers are just about the Premier League, can you imagine?. KIT:BAG and other similar projects can be replicated for other football leagues and huge associations like the NFL and NBA. We need help to fix this trend, so I’m trying to get other brands involved, as well as the athletes and sports clubs themselves.”

In Christopher Raeburn’s remarks, the word ‘responsibility’ comes up often. Responsibility for the present. For the future. The responsibility of an industry that has too often sacrificed this term on the altar of revenue. Today, Raeburn’s sense of urgency comes out loud and clear, as he alternates between dire future scenarios and a brighter horizon that awaits us if our collective action and sensitivity prevail.

“We have an enormous amount of work, because it would be silly to think everything is just fine. We can all do better, learn about the circular economy and teach it to others. The world is full of discarded clothing, and it’ll be tough to eliminate the enormous waste generated by the overproduction of garments and materials. But I’m hopeful. My hope is that a future that today sounds like utopia will eventually come true, where fashion will stop burdening the Earth and even come to its aid. Of course, it’s not going to be easy.”

Photo Credits:

RÆBURN

Text by:


Urban Explorers – Tatiana Diakova

Together with North Sails we go to Barcelona, where human bodies and seascapes come together in this painter’s canvases

Originality is a return to origins. This notion accompanied Antoni Gaudí as he imagined the forms that would compose the urban canvas of Barcelona. His fairy tale-Catalan lines insist on this concept, delicately framed by the Ramblas. Originality, intended as a communal dance of human bodies, beauty, natural landscapes and purity, is also the palette from which the Belarusian, but adopted Barcelonés painter, Tatiana Diakova draws. “Painting is a spiritual exercise. I have never considered myself a painter; I just think that beauty itself is an act that deserves a voice. My subjects are landscapes and human bodies: I love the idea of human beings becoming an extension of nature, and vice versa. The ocean and the sea represent purity for me, as does the human body, and I try to communicate these concepts through minimalism, clean colors, shapes and compositions. I was born in a landlocked country, but I used to go camping with my family every year on the coast of the Black Sea. That’s where I learned to connect with nature and the waves, falling in love with their scents and sounds, their beauty…. this is where I experienced becoming one with my surroundings for the first time.”

After a brief career as a graphic designer, Tatiana chose the lights and coastlines of Barcelona inspiration for her brushes. At the foot of the notorious Montjuïc promontory this refined cultured explorer of beauty now surveys wild shorelines with her canvases while simultaneously directing MAUI Beach CoWork, a creative oasis that transects eclecticism, yoga, SUP and environmental sustainability. “When I paint on the shore, I feel like I’m capturing something that is constantly changing, and I try to give form to this perception through the dynamism of my figures. I feel so small before the eternal wisdom of this mighty element, but I also feel like I’m part of it. As if I am the rocks, lights, sunrises and sunsets I portray, like I connect to the source of the universe. In nature I feel more like myself. I want to show the purity of these places, to absorb it. In Barcelona everything is close to the sea, it only takes me a few minutes to get there and I often do it with the other MAUI Beach CoWork creatives. We dive into the water on a weekly basis with our SUP boards to recharge and, at the same time, see what’s going on. The construction of villas and hotels, pollution and the sprawl of chiringuitos are really detrimental trends, but Catalonia is doing a good job keeping it them at bay. Our community has several annual events dedicated to collecting plastic and waste: we know it’s not enough, but have to start somewhere. However, I also believe that art is an extremely powerful tool for promoting marine conservation.”

According to the delicate words of this artist who grew up thumbing through Alessandro Baricco’s ‘Oceano Mare,’ a novel where a man named Plasson tirelessly paints with salt water at the foot of the ocean, it is and always will be beauty that changes individual and collective consciences; beauty that will establish a new, healthy relationship with the marine environment. “Through art I educate myself and try to educate others. I am convinced that art can teach us get in touch with the natural elements. As I’m speaking, so many images come to my mind: gigantic whales, people swirling through the deep sea, blooms of jellyfish…. A sense of harmony pervades me that’s guided by the photographs, films and paintings I’ve enjoyed. Then I think of diametrically opposed images, of polluted beaches ruined by human irresponsibility, lost paradises. Every art form raises questions and reflections, and calls people to act. Every virtuous action has a positive impact. My philosophy is encapsulated in this process, in this belief: beauty is so strong that it drives people to change, and I want to continue to paint that beauty.”

Credits: @diakova_art
@North Sails
Photo Credits: Rise Up Duo
Text by : Gianmarco Pacione


Urban Explorers – Meloko

Together with North Sails we listen to the Marseille vibes of this DJ and producer

Marseille is the voice of the Mediterranean. Its waves compose rhymes in many tongues, verses that, for centuries, have shaped the natural cathedrals of the Calanques, like the fluid melting pot of the Vieux Port. Meloko is the sound of this city, its swirling cosmopolitanism, its lights that blend sky and sea, urban chaos and coastal nirvana. DJ and producer, Meloko’s rhythms are the soundtrack of polished Provençal sunsets, the melodic transposition of breezes, diverse cultures, and lapping waves. “I came to Marseille from the French hinterland, from a small town near Avignon, and I was blown away. Marseille is its sea. The Mediterranean its defining feature; what makes it unique. Everything here is so intense and dynamic, but at the same time laid back. It all comes from the sea, and my music reflects that deep connection. Every day I walk along the waterfront to get to my studio. While I’m producing, my windows look over this incredible, bright blue vastness…. That’s why you can hear the Mediterranean inside my music.”

‘Azzur,’ the record label founded by Meloko, is also a clear reference to this Mediterranean synergy. Its airy house vibes, contaminated with African and Arab echoes, flood Marseille’s clubs and beaches, moving the glistening bodies of thousands of young people and, at the same time, educating them about safeguarding the marine environment. “I formed a duo with Konvex Guilhem; we call ourselves ‘Palavas,’ after a traditional fishing village near Montpellier. In the summer, I often play on the beaches, especially in Le Cabane des Amis. The owner of the club have established a zero-tolerance policy towards pollution and I’m happy to support it. Anyone who throws a cigarette, leaves a plastic bottle on the ground, or does anything to disrespect nature is immediately expelled from the event. I’m proud of this decision, because this issue is important to me. I’m also working with the association ‘Clean my Calanques,’ which safeguards the Calanques: they are wonderful places, the spirit of Marseille, but they are also filled with plastic and trash. It’s sad. I think we need to educate people and raise awareness; I try to do that with my music, and the new generations are getting the message. Lots of young people take part in ‘Clean my Calanques,’ but everyone should carve out some time to help the sea.”

A winter dip. A game of pétanque played with red wine and warm smiles. A DJ-set that transposes Marseille’s colors into notes, enveloping listeners in long contemplative trances. Meloko has found his oasis and muse in this coastal metropolis, among the narrow alleys of the old Le Panier district he has transformed from an Economics student to an international musician, forging a bond destined to last. “I will never leave Marseille. I lived in other European cities for short periods, but I missed the Marseille atmosphere. Away from the lights of Provence, the rhythms of Marseille, these beaches, life always seems so different and gray…. I’m going to carry on making my music, inspired by the Mediterranean and this unique city. At the same time, I’ll redouble my commitment to protecting the marine environment and local beaches. I want to be a part of this virtuous process and contribute with my tracks, events and concerts. Finally, I hope that ‘Clean my Calanques’ eventually becomes even more than an association: it should become a call to action, a goal for all of us.”

Credits: @melokomuisc
@North Sails
Photo Credits: Rise Up Duo
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Urban Explorers – Giovanni Barberis

Waves, films and environmental sensitivity. We meet this Italian filmmaker along with North Sails

The sound of the ocean has infinite notes. Sweet and quiet, contemplative and introspective notes. Notes that soothe metropolitan frenzy, alleviate it, and echo from the vast expanses of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea to channel into unexpected places, as the Naviglio, embedded in Milan’s urban fabric, as the shady aquatic belly of the Darsena, and the creative currents of the filmmaker and director Giovanni Barberis. Following the award-winning productions ‘Peninsula’ ‘Nausica’ and ‘Onde Nostre’, docufilms dedicated to the Italian surfing scene that he produced with a collective of inspired Italian aquatic creatives, ‘Ogni giorno ci penso’ is Barberi’s latest venture. ‘Ogni giorno ci penso’ (‘Every day I think about it’) is also the unintentional definition of the undisguised relationship between Sbrokked, his nickname, and water. “I have an extremely intimate connection with seas and oceans. When I think about it, the first image I see is my sister and I playing on the beaches of Bergeggi, Liguria, and being scolded by our mother. Before arriving in Milan, I lived with my family in Piemonte, and for years my only thought was to reach the nearest lineup and get on the surfboard. I went south on the Ligurian coast almost daily. Several times, it happened to me to travel alone or simply with my dog. Until I was 30 years old, I had the priceless opportunity to travel. The priority was always to get in the waves: from Hawaii to Morocco, from northern Spain to the small town of Varazze… I always had the feeling of being deeply comfortable in the sea. Water makes everything appear intimate. It shapes your way of being and pushes you to tell.”

Giovanni Barberis’ story runs through the flow of his films, as it does for his own skin. A broken board, the sign of a serious injury of the past, the outline of a sole, the tail of a whale… Walking through Milan’s waterways, the legs of this artist give a glimpse of self-made tattoos. They are impressions, statements of a primordial synergy with the ocean, which is fruitful for his life, his profession, and his sensitivity. As he observes the plastic wrecks deposited in the disfigured aquatic veins of Milan, Giovanni lets flow out a flood of complaints and information, silent personal initiatives, and noisy visual splinters: elements kept together by the common thread of marine conservation. “During one of my projects I was lucky enough to interview an oceanographer. He educated me about the dynamics of marine pollution and regeneration; it was shocking. By touching upon topics such as collective consumerism or individual inattention, I realized how much human beings are to blame on this maelstrom of environmental destruction. I always acted with the greatest respect for marine nature. I think it’s a kind of care which belongs to every lover of this element. It happened to me millions of times to take long walks on the beaches I was welcomed to in my business or leisure trips and pick up infinite bags full of plastic thrown away by strangers. In the Maldives I had the opportunity to observe a trash island; it was shocking. I never bound myself to specific associations, but I think artistic medium is crucial to nurture a diverse sensibility on this issue, especially for younger generations. In many of my productions, the ocean has been and continues to be a central subject, and I think that filming the course of a wave or a storm can convey a sense of magic and purity that needs to be preserved. I hope that these images will raise awareness and will force the viewer to reflect on concepts such as the respect and love for an element that is essential, but constantly and seriously endangered. I also gave space to many testimonials from people who live symbiotically with oceanic wonder, and who decided to inhabit it for their entire existence. Their words are another very powerful tool for changing the common thinking”.

Revolution can come across painful awareness and even more painful detachment. Because being true to your values, as Giovanni Barberis explains us as he walks on the grey concrete of Milan, is the most meaningful thing a man in perpetual listening to the sea can do. This is the reason for a working interlude that, for some time, will see him crossing the waves almost only for personal films and abandoning larger productions, that often aims at an exploitation of surfing art and its imagery. “Surfing is my passion and, over time, it became my job. Although it’s a necessity, I decided to take a break from this universe, because I hated the idea of exploiting something I always perceived as spiritual. I was emotionally saturated. I’ll resume it in the future. In the meantime, I’m going on living this dualism between the sea and the metropolis: it is a balance I can bear, because as soon as I can I escape to some beach. I’m also thinking about moving to the seaside. This thought stays with me and it always will. Sooner or later, it’ll come true”.

Credits: @gio_sbrokked
@North Sails
Photo Credits: Rise Up Duo
Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Game Changers

Environmental sustainability is the biggest revolution in contemporary society, we’ll give voice to those who are supporting it

Game Changers is Athleta’s new column. It’s a virtuous ‘ecosystem’ shaped by the testimonies of individuals committed to the necessary environmental revolution. They are human beings and ordinary people, they are athletes and multidimensional creatives, they are the voices that can truly impact the essential process of environmental awareness and sustainability-they are the Game Changers.

Photo by ©Achille Mauri
Photo by ©Achille Mauri
Photo by ©Achille Mauri
Photo by ©Achille Mauri
Photo by ©Sean Kesterson

The Game Changers are ordinary, yet revolutionary elements. They are individuals who are able to change rules and perceptions by their own example, whether overt or silent, by the conscientious force of their actions, their words, their sensitivity. The Game Changers are key players. Through their qualities and courage they are able to affect time, to mark turning points in environmental awareness, in the flow of individual as well as collective history. The Game Changers represent what we all could and should be.

The Game Changers, from today, will be an active and distinctive part of Athleta. We celebrate the beginning of this new series of focuses and interviews with a series of significant shots that have marked our journey and now more than ever will continue to do so.

Photo by ©Soudoplatoff Anne-Sophie
Photo by ©Mark Griffiths
Photo by ©Rise Up Duo
Photo by ©Mark Griffiths
Photo by ©Michael Blann
Photo by ©Michael Blann
Photo by ©Rise Up Duo
Photo by ©PerSollerman
Photo by ©Piotr Drzastwa
Photo by ©PerSollerman

Photo Credits: Athleta Mag Contributors
Text by Gianmarco Pacione