cult kits systemarosa interview

SYSTEMAROSA: AN INTERVIEW WITH NAOMI ACCARDI & SAM HERZOG

Systemarosa is a two part project from Naomi Accardi and Sam Herzog. A curated vintage store that is looking to push the way we view football and fashion. Alongside this, they offer a wide array of creative services. From creative conceptualization and direction to product development. 

We caught up with the pair who aim to bring an authentic connection between football and fashion.

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Cult Kits: For those that don't know you... Can you tell us a bit about yourself – career/work to date?

Naomi Accardi: I studied visual communications with the idea to work in fashion, maybe as a stylist, but I quickly changed my mind and took the brand marketing route. In 2013, after graduating college, I got a job at Carhartt WIP as a PR/communications coordinator and this is when I started understanding what I truly liked. At this time, football wasn’t really on my mind career-wise, I believed my future was in clothing and so I continued jumping from company to company, passing through Nike and adidas, refining my interests. In 2014, a dear friend of mine Calum Gordon—who at the time was working with Mundial Magazine—hit me up about their second issue dedicated to the 1990 World Cup/Italia 90 to see if I had something to contribute. At this point, I had never published anything professionally but I ended up interviewing Totò Schillaci and began a collaboration with the magazine that lasted a few years, mostly generating fashion editorials. In 2018, after quitting my last corporate job as a brand activation manager at adidas, based in Dubai, I took some time to figure out what to do with my life. I wasn’t happy working in an office, I realized there was something deeper between me and football storytelling, so I decided to transition and focus on editorial work. I became Season Zine’s editor at large and started working as a freelance consultant at the intersection of football, fashion and culture, with a specific focus on the impact the game has on society and vice versa. I have now been doing this for 5 years, amongst other things. This year, I worked on launching my own companies/projects: Nonsense Projects (an editorial platform / creative studio), systemarosa and Riserve (an international directory of football creatives). 

Sam Herzog: Throughout my career, I have worked across many functions of the fashion industry including but not limited to strategy, branding, e-commerce, buying, merchandising, styling, creative direction and social media. I studied History and Economics but always had a passion for fashion. After graduating, I went directly into the executive development program at Bloomingdales and became an assistant buyer. Realizing very quickly the environment was too corporate for my taste, I segued into a Marketing & PR role at an architecture and design firm which was a much needed break from the capital F fashion industry. But it didn't take long for me to return, joining the team at emerging designer brand KARA where I was the Director of Sales & Marketing until April of this year when I transitioned to working freelance as a brand consultant. I now focus on growing emerging designers through creative and strategy.  Last year I also began teaching as an adjunct professor at Parson’s in their master’s program in Fashion Management, teaching courses on Branding, Communications and Leadership. With the freedom and flexibility of freelance life, Naomi and I were finally able to start systemarosa, an idea we’d been talking about for a long time.

 

cult kits systemarosa interview

 

CK: What's your earliest memory of falling in love with the game of football?

NA: Well, my father was a football player in the 80s and 90s, so my early football memories pertain to that. I starkly remember my first time at a stadium. I was 4 or 5, we were living in Jakarta, Indonesia (he was playing there) and my mother, sister and I went to watch a match. The VIP section was so rudimental, all concrete. But they had pizza delivery straight to your seats! 

SH: I think I started kicking a ball around age 3, when my brother who was 5 at the time joined his first organized soccer team. It’s always been part of my life as long as I can remember so it's hard to pinpoint an earliest memory. I went to almost every home game of the San Jose Earthquakes and Cyberrays (the Women's team for the 3 years they were able to fund the league) with my dad. I know non-Americans have a lot to say about soccer in the US but I got to see hometown hero players like Landon Donovan and Brandi Chastain on the regular in a very intimate setting.

CK: How was the idea of Systemarosa born?

NA: Personally, I have been doing work at the intersection of football and fashion for a long time and I felt the need to venture out on my own and create my own bubble. Especially because I was extremely frustrated with the state of kit campaigns, collaborations and the overall aesthetic that was being pushed by the industry. Additionally, I wanted to do something with vintage clothing for a while. So the idea was really just brewing in my head for a while. Then I hit up Sam, who is amazing at integrating football into her daily style without making it cliché, and asked if she’d be interested in partnering with me on something. 

 

cult kits systemarosa interview

 

"I wanted to do something with vintage clothing for a while. So the idea was really just brewing in my head for a while. Then I hit up Sam, who is amazing at integrating football into her daily style without making it cliché."

 

cult kits systemarosa interview

 

SH: When I started playing football again a few years ago, after a decade-long hiatus, it really started taking over my life in an all-consuming way like it did when I was a kid. It was still in the throes of covid so any occasion I left the house felt worth dressing up for. I started thinking more about and accumulating kits to play pickup in and eventually it bled into my off-pitch styling. Now it really defines how I dress. As these two loves bled into each other for me personally, I became more and more interested in working on something professionally between the two. To echo Naomi, we sort of had a running chat about our frustrations with the lack of authenticity in the space between football and fashion, through kit releases, community building, brand collaborations etc..  These two things were happening along the same timeline and then one day over coffee in April in Greenpoint we sat down and said fuck it let’s just do the thing.

CK: Tell us about the concept of  systemarosa?

NA: Systemarosa really is a hybrid concept. At its core, we want to create a space where people can engage with the beautiful game differently from how it’s been traditionally portrayed. We want to change the narrative, widen the entry point and encourage people to have a good time. We are a vintage shop focusing on 70’s and 80s amateur team kits, or lower division jerseys and designer brands from Europe. We want to create a specific aesthetic that’s female-led and centric, to counter trends like “blokecore”. Who even invented that term? Then we have an archive of football-inspired pieces and rare jerseys that we use for our own editorials and projects or rent out to stylists and publications. Lastly, we also offer consulting services. Ultimately, the goal is to innovate and invite people (girls mostly) to experience the game in a different way. 

 

cult kits systemarosa interview

 

"I have been doing work at the intersection of football and fashion for a long time and I felt the need to venture out on my own and create my own bubble. Especially because I was extremely frustrated with the state of kit campaigns, collaborations and the overall aesthetic that was being pushed by the industry." 

 

cult kits systemarosa interview

 

SH: What she said! I’ll just add that we wanted a space that was both authentic and inclusive, cool but inviting – and that’s what we hope to build.

CK: What has the reaction been to Systemarosa so far?

NA: It’s been great! We soft-launched in NYC at the end of September and our collection sold out almost immediately, delaying the launch of our full website and e-shop because we needed to source more garments. Since the official launch a few days ago, so many people have messaged me personally to tell me how much they love everything and the sales have been good. 

SH: It’s been really validating how excited people have been, both in our communities but also complete strangers who just connect with what we’re doing. And, of course, it’s great to see our collections sell so quickly, although it's hard to let go of them.

CK: The curation of the vintage store is fantastic, what's been your inspiration?

NA: Thank you! Personally my inspiration is Sam’s style and Italian footballers and managers from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s. 

SH: *Blushing*. I’m especially inspired by the details and craftsmanship on the kits from the 70s and earlier. There’s just a richness in material, color palette, silhouette and typography that lends itself so much more to a feeling of designer ready-to-wear and feels really far away from the performance focused, synthetic jerseys we see today. To be honest I haven’t seen a lot of examples out in the world of the combinations we’re doing, so in a way it’s the result of styling and wear-testing these combinations of kits/accessories in my everyday life for a few years now and a lot of trusting our gut.

CK: What's your view on the current trend of football shirts crossing so many fashion corners?

Naomi/Sam:


jose mourinho


CK: Hahaha, OK – Point taken. What about release? Which football shirts have caught your eye this season?

NA: Of course my favorite jersey of 2023 was Wales Bonner’s Jamaica kit. But I have to say, I love what AS Roma has done this season too. 

SH: I agree with Naomi, but for me the away kit was the real pièce de résistance with the tricolor socks. Such a beautiful brown but I’m definitely having a brown moment. Otherwise the Athens Kallithea 3rd kit I like. The Arsenal third kit release video I thought was well done. Sort of unrelated but I have to say there was something SO lovely about the Inter kit when they had no central sponsor for a hot minute. 

 

"There’s just a richness in material, color palette, silhouette and typography that lends itself so much more to a feeling of designer ready-to-wear and feels really far away from the performance focused, synthetic jerseys we see today."

 

CK: What do you think about the latest 'vintage/classic' releases from adidas?

NA: Ugh, I think it was a good idea, bad execution. 

SH: We’re on the same page here. 

CK: You offer other services on Systemarosa, can you tell us more about these?

NA: Absolutely! Me, I am bringing my editorial expertise and knowledge of the game and creative ideas, which translates into an array of services such as concept development, brand/campaign narrative direction and Sam.. I let her finish this! 

SH: I bring expertise that is similar but complementary to Naomi’s - my experience draws from let’s say the other side of the coin. We both work in branding but where she is a wordsmith I’m more of a visual storyteller - creative direction and production, casting, styling, etc… I also have years of experience in merchandising, sales and go-to-market strategy. So far we’re working on a wide range of products but at the core, we’re interested in creating authentic creative around spaces where football and fashion meet - whether that’s creating an editorial campaign for a collaboration, developing design for a club’s kit or merch, community building to expand a fan-base or styling pro players we’re excited about it all! 

CK: What is the aspiration/dreams for Systemarosa?

NA/SH: So many things! Style footballers, work with clubs in creating authentic storytelling to connect with old fans and charm new ones, collab with brands on capsules and establish ourselves as innovators in the field. I really want to do more community events and films. For now, we are working on a few international pop ups and fun collaborations with emerging designers.

CK: When can we expect a Systemarosa x Cult Kits collab?

NA: Ha! You tell us :)

SH: How soon can we start?

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