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Style and substance
Always distinctive, it’s hard to go wrong with some of the new offerings from PhilosophyFootball.com. Manchester United fans will balk but Liverpool supporters will love the limited edition shirt celebrating their 5-0 victory at Old Trafford in October. There’s a glorious bicycle wheel-shaped tribute to Mark Cavendish equalling Eddie Merckx’s 34 Tour de France stage wins and Emma Raducanu’s US Open victory is also celebrated.
With the Ashes beginning this week, salute one of England’s greatest batting cameos, Jack Leach’s undefeated one at Headingley in 2019 from PunkCricket.com with a delightfully minimalist batting wagon wheel.
Cyclists looking to make a fashion statement will find a wealth of brilliant designs at Paria.com. This Yorkshire-based company has teamed up with local designers to create genuinely striking gear. The women’s jerseys in particular are eye-catching but also functional, warm and well-designed for a perfect fit.
Gadgets and gear
Make standing spectating an altogether more relaxing experience with the Campster portable chair from Sitpak.com. An inventive and comfortable design, it weighs 940g and folds down to the size of 1.25-litre bottle. For walking to any match, the Thunder GTX hiking shoes from Hotter.com are a fine choice. Of sturdy Gore-Tex construction, they are waterproof and durable, yet very comfy to wear.
Stay warm with the sumptuous merino wool leggings and top base layers from HellyHansen.com. Providing great insulation without being bulky, they are moisture wicking and breathable, ideal for any activity. Pair them on the links with something from Soundergolf.com, who endeavour to bring a fresh approach to the sport’s fashion and their navy socks are a treat for the feet.
If that’s not enough to keep the cold at bay, family business Glencroftcountrywear.co.uk’s Clapdale jumper is made in Yorkshire with British wool, looks great and is a delight, slim and snug beneath a winter coat. All of which can be accessorised with the Icebreaker Flexi Chute snood from Wiggle.co.uk. Soft and warm it’s a merino wool treat for the neck.
If out and about cycling ensure maximum visibility with one of the marvellous jackets from Provizsports.com. Their Reflect 360 CRS Plus looks great, is waterproof and warm but most importantly completely reflective. Coated with minuscule glass beads, at night the jacket reflects light as an unmissable, bright beacon. Serious cyclists will also appreciate the well-designed, light but nicely padded Castelli Entrata V gloves from Probikekit.co.uk.
For any activity that requires attention to the surroundings, the Aeropex open ear, bone conduction headphones are perfect. The top-end for listening on the go, they use conduction through the cheekbones to transmit sound vibrations directly to the inner ear, instead of earpieces in the ear drum. The sound quality is superb but crucially the wearer is not cut off from external stimuli.
Fitness and form
Committing to making a New Year exercise effort is superbly served by Polar.com’s Vantage M2 multisport watch. The fitness tracker boasts a more stylish look than many rivals and is a comprehensive package for making a healthy step up. With a built-in wrist heart monitor and GPS it provides a remarkable array of tracking facilities, including 130 different sport profiles and programmes that are broken down on its app in detail.
The GPS and the heart monitor are solid and the Fitspark option suggesting custom workouts learned from activity is a great tool. The battery life is also good and it makes for an impressive, thorough and competitively priced device. Cheaper as an entry point, the Polar Ignite 2 boasts similar features and the Fitspark system but on a sleeker model. Ideal as an all-round option for anyone about to make fitness a priority
Put the trackers to good use with proper footwear. For stability and support across a wide range of distances the Swiss company ON delivers an exemplary ride with their Cloudstratus trainer. Designed for easy to mid-tempo running there is comfort here with a smooth easy pace, little jarring and an elegant, form-fitting upper.
For performance gains the 361europe.com Meraki 4 is the latest iteration of a hugely popular trainer. An all-rounder, light and responsive it delivers a very smooth and well‑cushioned experience. With a dual-density midsole it’s easy on the foot, comfortable out of the box at a very competitive price. Combine both with the Enertor.com Energy Run Socks. Neatly designed they are light with an energy knit band that flexes thorough the step.
Equally innovative, the CXPofficial.com Core underwear features a multi-panelled and deep waistband to distribute pressure evenly, they are lightweight, durable and a pleasure to wear. As is the marvellous Maaree.com Solidarity high-impact sports bra. It features a curved fabric band over the top of the breasts to stabilise upward motion when exercising. It’s a clever idea, designed and built to last through the rigours of real exercise.
Leggings made from organically grown bamboo by Boody.co.uk are also a marvellous addition to any gym kit. They are fully sustainable, with the Active full length boasting a sharp design, while the high waist iteration looks great, has a stretchy cut to fit perfectly and handy pockets. They act as a great base layer with thermo-regulating and moisture-wicking properties and are delightfully soft to the touch.
For maximum benefit from competing and exercising, the Skinscompression.com compression wear looks great and has a solid scientific basis for its design. The Series Three is perfect for medium-level activity, aiding blood flow and recovery and enjoys a smart, svelte look.
Fun games and unique
For a truly personal gift, Sarah Pennell of Pegboarders.com brings beauty and function to her exquisite, hanging showcase boards. Handmade and engraved from sustainable birch plywood they are an arresting sight using pegs and shelving for display and storage. Sarah will build any design – football trophies, motor racing circuits, effectively any sporting motif of choice and have personal details etched into them. A real eye-catcher and truly elegant, they bring charming life to any wall.
Similarly striking, Tom White of racecutz.co.uk hand makes, beautiful, laser cut motor racing tracks from around the world. They come with stainless steel wall mounts that sets the circuit off from the wall, a distinctive and innovative feature. There is also intriguing art for football fans from Prezzybox.com. Their football ground prints are stylistic, graphic representations of championship and league grounds. Similarly their Subbuteo team prints, a selection of classic line-ups rendered as flick-to-kick figures is a novel take.
Toast the new year in with the selection of football team-themed vodka and gin from Bohemianbrands.co.uk. There is a selection of clubs, the booze is a high-end tipple but the bottles, particularly the crystal range, boast glorious glitzy club badges.
Budding young players will have terrific fun with the Kicker ball from Smythstoys.com, a clever idea aimed at kids not yet graduated to a full match ball. The light panels are designed to allow players to put swerve and bend on with ease.
Finally for football-mad kids stuck indoors, Johnlewis.com has Brainbox Football, an entertaining memory game based around the players and histories of English clubs that is easy to pick up and fun to play.