Live Breathe Futbol has captured lightning in a bottle. The passion for football coupled with high fashion design has been a dream come true for Ebun Olaloye. As the game grows in popularity in the United States, the sport’s established international reputation makes for a unique time.
The day of Diego Maradona’s death brought upon memories of Olaloye’s childhood. The Argentine football legend was a formidable player during the early years of Olaloye’s football consumption that made him a student of the game. Maradona was so influential, he was going to be a cornerstone in an early 2021 release for Live Breathe Futbol called “Gods of the Game.”
“You have world-class players, you have legends who transcend the game. It’s hard to think of Diego Maradona as a person,” Olaloye said. “His icon felt much bigger than the game, he’s immortal. This guy loved every minute on the pitch. Love him or hate him, he was always real and lived his life with passion,”
Olaloye’s father and uncle were his greatest influences in football. Unlike in the United States, football in Nigeria is the main spectacle. He didn’t attend matches in Nigeria, except for the one occasion that his uncle sneaked him out of school and they watched a charity football game in his home city of Lagos.
Football was his entire world until it shifted at 10 years old when Olaloye and his family moved to the U.S. and it was then that he came to realize that football wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
“In America, I was the only kid that I knew that was really into soccer. University kids I knew played basketball to the point that I even played basketball for a bit,” Olaloye said. “In terms of it being the primary or secondary sport, it wasn’t popular at all. It was really difficult to find people who understood where I grew up,”
Eventually, Olaloye did find people in the U.S. who appreciated the game. The Portland Thorns collaborated with Live Breathe Futbol in 2018 for a six-piece collection that combined the growing popularity of streetwear and football. Eight years before the collaboration, the Nigerian native was 21 years old when he started LBF.
“When you do something you like and it resonates with people, they’re going to like you,” Olaloye said. “But working with the Portland Thorns, it gave the brand much more visibility and legitimacy,”
Then came Sporting Kansas City the following year. The slow build has made LBF one of the top sporting apparel brands in the world. It went from t-shirt designs to one-of-a-kind boot-shaped rugs. From Kickstarter campaigns to some of the greatest footballers in the game today sporting LBF.
Its growing presence and international support in the last few years led LBF to launch an extension of itself in the United Kingdom. The brand’s global presence started out in the first year of its inception, with shipments going out Africa, Mexico, and Canada from the States. That same presence has fueled LBF to make itself the global brand it is today.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the LBF team found a way to keep with the times. Its business model has always been rooted in e-commerce, so when various lockdowns swept the world, LBF still managed to thrive.
“I gravitated towards e-commerce because I just thought, I’m this young kid who has ideas and I don’t have the capital to fund a retail store. We saw the challenges of a brick and mortar retail even back then in 2013,” Olaloye said.
While the world saw less foot traffic in stores, online sales were skyrocketing. In the midst of launching collections and preparing for more in the near future, LBF managed to help fill a hole in the market that was specific to COVID-19 — face masks. The busy summer made for an exclusive football boot area rug collection to be one of LBF’s strongest releases of the year.
LBF followed up its summer with a weekly release for a collection that ended the rollercoaster that was 2020. 2021 is looking even brighter with its World Class collection, which’s composed of combo sweatshirts and sweatpants, which is scheduled to drop in the very near future.