A few years ago, hearing the term ‘football culture’ would’ve probably conjured images of a rowdy pub on match day, swarming with jeering crowds of beer-fueled blokes. But that was before the Lionesses' historic victory at the Euros last year and valiant entry into this summer's Women's World Cup final, which kicks off this weekend. Both events have changed women’s football (and fashion) forever for many of us, and now we can all pitch into footie culture.

Flashback to last year’s match. The highest attended of any European Championship final to date – and that's for both men’s and women’s matches – there were just over 87,000 fans watching from Wembley Stadium, the stands teeming as they neared full capacity. The powerful moment Chloe Kelly scored the winning goal and the infectious celebration that followed has now been embedded in sports lore. As she whirled her shirt above her head to reveal a Nike sports bra, an enduring image was sent to thousands of women and girls watching from home.

Now, the Women’s World Cup is everywhere – from passing the player’s life-size image in NikeTown’s windows on your daily commute to your phone buzzing with the group chats animated narration of the game - Lioness fever is hard to miss. And while fashion’s inclusion of female players is long overdue, considering male football players have been sat front row of fashion shows for years, it’s better late than never.

Leah Williamson, who steered the team to victory last year, was the cover star of GQ earlier this year and recently fronted the buzzy, genderless Martine Rose X Nike collection, which proved women’s gear could be as practical and stylish as their male counterparts. Meanwhile, British designer Grace Wales Bonner partnered with Adidas to dress Jamaica's national football teams, and her models at Paris Fashion Week, in a sleek four-piece footie collection that was proudly printed with the colours of the Jamaican flag.

Alongside the long-awaited improvement of the player’s specialist wardrobes, female football fans are also having their own fashion moment. For us, the term ‘bloke’ evokes viral images of Kim Kardashian ordering a pint of Guinness and TikTokers styling vintage football jerseys with pink bows and cowboy boots. Dubbed ‘bloke-core’ or ‘blokette’, this online trend has taken the style of old-school footie fans and repackaged it for the modern-day spectator (and anyone else who just thinks football jerseys are cute, of course).

You can spot ‘bloke-core’ on your feed and local pavements by watching out for the football shirts, colourful socks and baggy shorts worn by the players, along with pieces worn by the so-called football hooligans or ‘Casuals’ of days gone by. Characterised by branded pieces like Stone Island jumpers and Adidas 3-stripe trainers, this style rose to prominence in the late 70s as was one of the first times football fans had a unifying dress code that wasn’t their team’s jerseys. Seeing ‘blokette’ fashion girls style these pieces with lace scrunchies, long jorts and oversized hair clips is truly a wonder of our varied digital world.

“People have to realise the very fact that the term ‘bloke-core’ exists will be seen by genuine blokes, as in terrace dwellers of any sex, as a ludicrous misnomer,” says Neal Heard, founder of clothing brand Lovers F.C and author of the groundbreaking The Football Shirts Book: The Connoisseur's Guide (2016). As one of the first to spot the trend's emergence, Neal has spent the years since his book’s release cautious of where the trend is heading. “Trends are created by people, not brands. We live in a time when anyone can dress however they want and that's fantastic. Long may it continue, but sometimes we need to look forward rather than back to break new ground.”

For some grassroots players, however, football entering the accessible mainstream is a positive whichever way you spin it. “Since the Lionesses’ win I’ve seen a rise in football-influenced style on the street and the runway, the shift that the Euros win created was immense, ” says Shauna Maddison, fashion stylist and member of Brockwell United F.C. “Bloke-core allows the wearer to embrace something that has always been on the sidelines and separate from mainstream fashion.”

It’s grassroots women’s teams like Brockwell F.C that have been bolstering fashion’s recent obsession with football, alongside the high fashion collabs of established labels. As a result of last year’s Euros, 2 in 5 spectators were inspired to do more sport according to the UEFA, and women’s grassroots teams are in high demand. The world of women’s football has been non-stop since the Euros, with training for the current World Cup kicking off almost immediately after, so it's unsurprising the constant headlines have tempted so many of us towards the pitch.

“We’ve definitely noticed an increase in new people wanting to join us, it shows that if you see yourself represented on a national stage, it can trickle through to grassroots level,” says Sophie Page, club secretary of Brockwell United F.C “It's also good to see brands acknowledging our values, but it needs to feel authentic, not just a tick box exercise.” That’s where Lovers F.C comes in, who collaborated with Iconic London to give women’s grassroots teams the chance to design their own jersey’s.“This collab is particularly special because we got to do what we do best, make some excellent shirts, while also working closely with the women’s teams and Jameson to create kits they actually wanted,” Neal explains.

One of the teams to get involved was Peaches F.C, a London-based club that was set up as a safe space for women and non-binary people. Referencing England’s 1997 Ireland Away shirt, the team and their supporters can now sport the Peaches F.C badge on and off the pitch thanks to Lovers F.C. “We’ve been known to don our shirts in the club when that post-match pint escalates,” says Eva Boehm, a self-proclaimed ‘Peachy’. “I like to tie mine in a knot to wear it cropped, and one of our players Zak has actually cut their shirt shorter for the summer games, which makes a cute, Peachy crop top.”

It’s looking like the Women's World Cup on Sunday will see all the ‘blokettes’ out in full force, and we’re expecting every Guinness-drinking, jersey-sporting, Adidas Samba-wearing girl to be down at their local supporting the Lionesses.

But when the excitement surrounding the Women's World Cup is over, what will the future hold for fashion’s love affair with football? “The integration of the football shirt into modern culture has been so fast, which has allowed it to go from an unthinkable and almost nerdy pastime for dedicated people to a worldwide phenomenon,” says Neal “Trainers started this way and I believe the football shirt will become as readily worn as trainers are.”

By Mimi Francis