Paul Galvin: Chess London the new label by footballer Keith Andrews
Footballer Keith Andrews is a partner in dapper new label Chess London, notes Paul Galvin. So,guess who's dressing Trap's army for Euro 2012?
A smart move, Keith
When the game of football becomes a game of chess, that's when you need the likes of Dubliner Keith Andrews. Aware, disciplined, decisive.
When the game of football becomes a game of chess off the field, you might need him too. He can dress you. Well, if it's good enough for his Irish and West Brom teammates, why not you?
I had noted his presence in the media lately. In the Sky Sports studio, particularly, looking tailored.
I imagined he was wearing a designer suit off the rack of an exclusive London store.
Now, I'm guessing it was tailoring from a source that's a little more hands-on than off the rack.
Chess London is a new clothing label for the modern man. A professional man who lives life in the fast lane, but who still appreciates the finer things as he flies by.
His clothes won't make him, nor will they break him, but he has a feel for quality, an eye for detail and an appreciation for style.
He is one of those city slickers who can be Dapper Dan and Jack the lad all in the same Friday evening after work. A dapper lad, if you will.
Dublin's own Keith is a partner in the label where classic British tailoring with a heritage feel meets functional daywear in a collection that includes suiting, jackets, jumpers, T-shirts, shirts, outerwear and accessories.
Fabrics are sourced globally though mainly in Italy, according to designer Ali Riaz, and production is carried out in the UK.
Two-tone suiting is something I always look out for. It's contemporary and interesting. An appreciation of colour is key for any label, new or established. Safe colours are vital for new brands especially, and more especially still when there are footballers around.
Braces and bow-ties signal a designer who has his eye on trends while not being led by them. The Chess London man has more depth to him than to be trend-led.
While only a fledgling brand, launched in January this year, Keith's professional connections have already seen a host of high-profile ambassadors front up the brand.
Manchester Utd turk and Keith's former Blackburn teammate Phil Jones brings some Premier League exposure, Chicago Bull Luol Deng takes Chess London to the NBA, and Florence and the Machine guitarist Rob Ackroyd brings his new girlfriend Katy Perry and the indie rock 'n' roll. Clever tactics.
And now, thanks to Trap's strategies, the team's ability to carry them out and Keith's connections, Chess London is going to Poland.
The company is kitting out the Irish team in suiting and daywear for the duration of the tournament.
Let's hope that it's for more than a week.
Of course, there are more than enough ambassadorial clothes-horses in the rest of the group to suitably represent the brand.
What's that? The rest of the group? No, I don't mean the Italians and the Spanish, I mean Keith's teammates: Given, Keane, Long and the lads.
They all fix up smart, so Chess London is in safe hands. Keep an eye out this summer for a very well- dressed Irish travelling party. Poland won't know what's hit it and the Ukraine will probably get the blame.
Meanwhile, the England team has returned to traditional values and dress for this tournament since the Armani-clad, WAG-led, Baden-Baden fiasco of 2006.
David Beckham no doubt had Giorgio on speed-dial. Oh captain, my captain. When you have access to the world's best fashion designers, why not avail of them?
Unfortunately for Becks, the tournament was a PR disaster. Fake-tanned WAGS made up in gaudy designer gear and the footballing fellas in Italian designer suits were symptomatic of a group of footballers out of touch with the Great British public.
A change of tack was required.
The rugby and cricket teams forged an identity that the Great British public could relate to. Oliver Sweeney had been dressing those teams. British design for men who were still living in the same stratosphere as the public.
The footballers had to follow suit. Please pardon that pun -- it's wearing Armani.
Marks & Spencer has been dressing the football team since 2007. For the Euros, the M&S Autograph team designed and supplied all formal wear.
The two-button, single-breasted navy jacket is made from British wool and sculpted to a slimming, modern block. The lapels are narrow and the pockets are slanted.
Slim-fitting trousers complete the usual navy suit/white shirt combination. The finishing touches are a navy and white tie and pointed Gibson shoes.
The FAI's decision to employ what is essentially a British label to dress the Irish team has the cynics asking why they have not used an Irish company.
Possibly for the same reasons they didn't hire an Irish manager to manage the team. There weren't any suitable candidates.
Either way, all pieces that the England team are wearing are available to buy online from the Autograph collection at Marks & Spencer. The suit costs €270, the white fitted shirt is €40, the tie is €27 and the Autograph Gibson shoes are €67.
Meanwhile, in sport or in business, success is all about tactics. Looking the part as a manager may not be half the battle, but it is as important as having the right battle armour.
Trap and Tardelli will prowl the touchline suited and booted making all the right moves.
So here's the plan. Shay saves everything, Keith holds the middle, the wide boys play narrow without the ball, Robbie drops into midfield to make a five and we defend like Chess London.
After all, it's just come into fashion.