Dressing for the job you want, or even just the job you have, is a generally good strategy. That is, until it isn’t.
Since becoming manager of the English Premier League team Bournemouth in 2021, former pro Scott Parker has leaned into a label-minded prep uniform full of sharp separates and skinny ties, Church’s shoes, and Brunello Cucinelli field jackets. He rocked a a Thom Browne blazer on the season’s opening day this year, and caught some flack from fans who noticed the American designer’s signature four-bar stripes…and four-figure price tag. Undeterred by both the criticism and Britain’s amber “extreme heat” warning, Parker proceeded to wear a Thom Browne cardigan, buttoned up over a slim-fit Oxford shirt and a skinny tie, for his team’s next three games, all of which they lost. Badly.
After a particularly embarrassing 9-0 shellacking by Liverpool on Saturday, which followed 4-0 and 3-0 defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Arsenal, Bournemouth’s ownership fired Parker. That £1,350 cashmere cardigan, as sports writer Matthew Stanger (and then U.K. tabloid The Sun) pointed out, “cost him £4.58 for every minute he wore it on the touchline” over those three rough games. (At the current exchange rate, that’s about $5.34 USD per minute.)
“I would like to place on record my gratitude to Scott and his team for their efforts during their time with us. Our promotion back to the Premier League last season under his tenure will always be remembered as one of the most successful seasons in our history,” said team owner Maxim Demin in a statement on Tuesday. “However, in order for us to keep progressing as a team and a Club as a whole, it is unconditional that we are aligned in our strategy to run the club sustainably.”
For a seven-figure-earning employee operating in the richest soccer league in the world, wearing recognizable designer clothing doesn’t have to be a huge affront: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is famous for rocking Rick Owens and Stone Island on the touchline. And though Parker’s firing likely had little to do with his posh designer duds and everything to do with the “shell-shocking” losses, his outfits have become a topic of conversation here. “There is a mad dichotomy in football, in that it is drenched in money, but any show of wealth is met with widespread derision,” Esquire’s Charlie Teasdale wrote earlier this month. “Managers have traditionally been spared the hate, but as they have gradually got younger, slicker and more cosmopolitan, they’ve started to catch more and more heat.” Parker and his posh designer jacket even prompted sports website The Athletic to publish a rundown of Premier League coaches’ style, spanning “the suit squad” to “the tracksuit brigade.”
This is true across professional sports, no matter which side of the pond; when there’s that much money involved, any sort of flex or flex-adjacent repercussion tends to invoke some fanbase schadenfreude—but good style can still be an industry-transcending asset. To paraphrase one of Pete Davidson’s former tattoos: “Jobs come and go, but swag is forever.”