We caught up with one of the kings of footy bootleg products, Joshua Steeples, the founder of 'A Store Like 94', to find out just why he loves the weird and wonderful world of bootleg items. As well as how he aims to convince you they're slowly, turning in to collectables. One mad product release at a time.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery – or something along those lines. And for Josh, he's opening fashionable footy fans minds up to the bootleg world. A world in which you can turn a football god into a cult 90's action figure. Or more simply, create their version of a popular 90's shirt. A Store Like 94 have made the 'bootleg' shirt from the beachside gift shop, well... desirable. 

From his home in Deal, the creator, is combining his love for action-figures with that of his other love – football and all it's fashions.

CK: First things first, who do you support?

JS: I am a huge Crystal Palace fan and have been my whole life. I didn't have much choice in the matter as my dad and the whole of my South London based family are.

CK: Tell us a little bit about how you got started in this weird and wonderful space?

JS: Well, I used to have a physical vintage shop but after this didn't quite work out I realised that I was being to broad and thought it might be better to roll everything into a much smaller niche business and then focus on the online market. I had been collecting and selling football shirts since 2001 on small scale and noticed how saturated the vintage shirt market was becoming and also how hard it was to find reliable and affordable contacts out there. So both things were starting to annoy me slightly. Then everything changed when I started focusing my attention on my other huge passion apart from football, 90s toys. I'd noticed within that scene there was an ever evolving bootleg toy trend that was snowballing in popularity and this made me think maybe I could possibly incorporate the same things into the online footballing world. It was a no brainer and suddenly gave me much more of an outlet to be an artist not just a seller and combine a couple of my favourite things in life.


CK: Do you have a longterm ambition for the store?

JS: Right now, it's to simply keep growing organically and slowly create a bit of a bootleg scene / community, similar to what's happening in the toy world.

CK: If you could work with anyone (besides us) on a bootleg collection who would it be? 

JS: I have been lucky enough to work with some of my favourite people from the world of Instagram all ready but I am always up for collaborations with anyone, I love to share and work on ideas with other people and also make new friends in the process.

But I would love to design something specifically for a footballer, someone like Hector or even crazier would be to get something I've created to one of the 90s legends like Zinedine or R9 Ronaldo. I did actually sell a couple of Zidane inspired toys I created a few months to a guy who works at EA sports who said he would try and get one to the main man, but I don't know if it ever happened haha.

CK: We'd like to picture a world where Zizou is at the breakfast table, playing with a toy of himself by ASL94, whilst also reading the back of his cereal packets.


CK: Is there any specific element of bootleg you'd still like to cover? 

JS: As the bootleg and alternative football inspired fashion scene is quite a new thing in general, I think it's hard to pin down one element as there are hundreds of new ideas I would still like to try. Basically, anything is possible. But off the top of my head, I definitely want to start working on a new women's collection in the new year. It's great to see how much the community has grown over the last three/four seasons and the game finally getting the recognition it deserves.

CK: Have you ever had any trouble from clubs/players surrounding an item you've produced?

JS: No I haven't actually, but its a thin line between replica and bootlegs. I believe that a knock off or bootleg should be proud to be a bootleg. So for me it's all about being careful and clever with the subject you choose and then keeping that team/brand/player – at arms length and not stepping into the world of copyright. The modern day Eastern replica market on the other hand are just straight up stealing and that's something I don't support or try to be a part of.

CK: What can we expect from you over the coming months?

JS: More collabs and developing more one off up-cycled, customised items. Most things I make are one offs so it's all about trying to find the right channels to get it out there and make a viable business/way to keep creating. I'm very keen to become more of a football artist instead of football clothing brand as you can view everything you create as an art piece and be as crazy as you like. 

CK: OK that settles it, we want to create some bootleg merchandise with you! Up for it? 

JS: One hundred percent – it would be my pleasure to create something with you guys. Hopefully in the new year we can bang our heads together and come up with something new and original to share to the football world!

CK: OK then, you're on – watch this space for a bootleg sensation then.


You can browse, question and buy some amazing items, here.

All imagery courtesy of ASL94 – Joshua Steeples.

Visit his instagram page – here.


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