Cowboy boots, orange tie and bell bottoms: why Jules Koundé's style is debated on social networks ?

Cowboy boots, orange tie and bell bottoms: why Jules Koundé's style is debated on social networks ?

Jules Koundé durant son arrivée à Clairefontaine pour le rassemblement des bleus. FRANCK FIFE/AFP

Footballer Jules Koundé caused a sensation for his arrival at Clairefontaine. Cowboy boots, orange tie and bell-bottom jeans, his rather daring look sparked a wave of reactions on social networks. But behind the criticism and mockery lies a deeper problem: the rigidity of the codes of masculinity in football.

On May 29, 2024, during the gathering of the French team in Clairefontaine in preparation for Euro 2024, Jules Koundé attracted attention quite spectacularly. Accustomed to taking care of his appearance – as evidenced by his Instagram account – the FC Barcelona defender did not deviate from the rule by arriving with an outfit as daring as it was extravagant: cowboy boots, jeans with flap ;rsquo;elephant, orange tie, black leather jacket and Louis Vuitton bag. This look quickly ignited social networks, sparking contrasting reactions.

Some netizens praised his boldness and keen fashion sense, while others sharply criticized his appearance, considered by some to be “unmanly.” Critics that the footballer brushes aside by publishing the illustration of a smiley saying "Do I Care ? No, I don’t" ("Do I care ? No, I don’don't care").

Following this controversy, Koundé responded on his Instagram account to Internet users who may have criticized him by publishing a photo of himself in this outfit, accompanied by a message: "You criticize, but you don't even have the budget to copy me". A reply that instantly silenced the critics while reinforcing his image as a cool and uninhibited player.

An obstacle to self-expression ?

Passionate about fashion, the French defender of FC Barcelona fully embraces his bold and unique style. For him, clothing is a real way to let his personality shine through. "I love the freedom [of clothing], it's precisely a way for me to express myself", he confided in September 2023 in an interview for GQ magazine. "What is important to me is to feel good in your clothes, to be comfortable ;#39;ease and not let yourself be influenced or dictated by the masses."

Her style, both casual and well-dressed, mixes ultra-edgy streetwear pieces with more sophisticated elements. Her latest outfit, the one worn for her arrival at Clairefontaine, is right on trend, inspired by the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2024-2025 collection by Pharrell Williams. He also confided to GQ that he is not opposed to the idea of ​​wearing a skirt, thus shaking up the gender stereotypes that still persist in the world of sport.

The case of Jules Koundé illustrates a recurring problem in the world of football: the difficulty for men to express themselves freely outside the traditional codes of masculinity. If the world of football has many fashion ambassadors – Kylian Mbappé for Dior, Karim Benzema for Fendi, Lionel Messi for Dolce & Gabbana – he still remains very attached to notions of traditional virility. And any attempt to deviate from established norms is often reprimanded.

Reactions to Koundé's look reveal a fear of anything that could undermine stereotypes of masculinity. However, the new generation seems to want to shake things up a little, as evidenced by certain appearances by artists like Harry Styles or Timothée Chalamet. "I think in recent years things have changed a lot", said designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo, who founded the neutral label Palomo Spain , in an interview with Business of Fashion in January 2023. "Now you can see a skateboarder with pink-painted nails, wearing a crop top and a pearl necklace, and he's [a] completely heterosexual boy… [A few years ago], it was like 'only for gays, only for this community that I'm a part of'".

And in other sports ?

The rigidity of codes of masculinity is not specific to football, it is also found in other sports. For example, in basketball, players like Russell Westbrook and James Harden are often criticized for their bold clothing choices. Russell Westbrook regularly defies traditional expectations in men's fashion, while establishing himself as a style icon.

JameS Harden, too, never goes unnoticed with his outfits. Her passion for fashion goes beyond just wearing bold clothes; he does not hesitate to appear alongside artists who are also attracted to fashion such as Kanye West and Travis Scott. By associating himself with these icons, Harden demonstrates that fashion can be an extension of personal identity, even for elite athletes.

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