“I’m more than happy to be a standard bearer for the new flamboyance,” Dominic Calvert-Lewin tells me on Zoom. “Why not? You only have one life. It’s one of my mottos. Do what makes you happy.” The Everton striker, 25, speaks from his home in Manchester the day after his QG photo session, lying in his room with his laptop on his chest. The fading afternoon light cast long shadows on the wall behind him, but the whites of his eyes are bright. “For me, wearing divisive clothes and costumes is what I love to do, so I’m going to keep doing it.”
Calvert-Lewin keeps his word. While filming, in a North London studio packed with make-up artists, photo assistants and people in hoodies with no discernible role, the Sheffield-born footballer is as happy to pose up a storm in a Gucci coat-dress collarless – finished with a spray of the brand’s interlocking Gs – as he is in a Bottega Veneta bouclé two-piece in an iconic budgie hue. With the Bottega, he chooses to carry a Chanel handbag in turquoise quilted leather, from his own collection, draping the leather lace-up chain over his chest.
“The thing is,” Calvert-Lewin laughs when asked about the bag collection, “I’m pretty spontaneous about what I wear. I was on vacation recently and there was a Chanel pop-up store I walked in and thought it would be cool to have a bag to carry my stuff – I express myself even more when I’m on vacation I think maybe it’s the sun – so I’m walked in and saw some cool bags and thought you know what? i’m just gonna do it.”
Calvert-Lewin’s level of sartorial fluidity is impressive considering how sticky the relationship between fashion and football has been in the past. The former is an industry rooted in self-expression – a space where weirdness is embraced and individuality a mantra – while the latter is a world that has been steeped in a specifically archaic form of masculinity, where young men are thrust into the global spotlight and expected to adhere to a testosterone-soaked status quo. David Beckham at 23 was ridiculed when he dared to wear a sarong while off duty at the 1998 World Cup in France; and the 1996 Liverpool side were downright pilloried in the British press for wearing cream Armani suits on the pitch ahead of that year’s FA Cup final.