FASHION IN Formula 1 is getting a bit ridiculous. Ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, we learned that A$AP Rocky was to be the new Creative Director of Formula 1 and PUMA’s apparel line. This is on top of the many streetwear collaborations that the sport’s teams have already taken part in, such as McLaren x Rhude and Alpine x Palace Skateboards x Kappa; plus Ferrari’s house line of luxury fashion and streetwear and Alpha Tauri, which is Red Bull’s technical fashion arm (at least for now, if rumours are to be believed). But it’s not only the teams that are getting into the merch game, the drivers themselves are also hoping to capitalise on their growing youthful fanbase by launching their own line of streetwear-inspired merch.
Last year, McLaren Racing driver, Lando Norris launched Quadrant, an apparel and lifestyle brand inspired by racing and esports. If you’ve been following Norris’ career for the past three years, you likely know that the British driver gained a huge following during the pandemic via his Twitch streams, where he would engage with fans and play video games. Quadrant taps into a few gaming trends, both aesthetically and actively—the brand has teams in Halo and Rocket League, and launched apparel to match each game’s cultural aesthetic, and has a number of entertainment arms (including a collective of content creators) that aims to engage fans across a multiverse of platforms that exist beyond the F1 grid.
Also in 2022, Sir Lewis Hamilton launched his own clothing brand, +44, inspired by his lucky number and not to be confused with his charitable foundation, Mission 44. Hamilton, like every driver, has his own line of merch under his team, but +44 gives him a chance to be more playful with designs and collaborations than the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team branding will allow. The coolest standouts from +44 have been Hamilton’s two capsule collections with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The most recent dropped in time for the Las Vegas Grand Prix and featured a 27-piece collection inspired by the bright lights of Vegas and featured Murakami’s iconic motifs. As expected, most of the line’s fashion pieces sold out immediately.
Now, Thai Williams Racing driver Alexander Albon is getting in on the fashion action with apparel line, Alex Albon Athetlics. The first drop was a single limited edition sneaker (and two key rings) and the universally-adored driver told WWD he deliberately wanted to keep the range small and considered to start, before moving into more everyday wear next year. “This year was about seeing the feedback,” he said. “When you build a brand, you have to see people’s appetite for it. I did the one product to get my foot in the door and see the logistics behind it. How it works with tax, shipping or customer review, all to get the brand going.” Albon added that he wanted his collection to have unisex appeal, which explains why he chose a beige, non-obvious shoe, that looks less like a team merch, and more like something one would wear to a casual brunch.
Of course, thanks to Drive To Survive, the 20 athletes that make up the Formula 1 grid today are now A-list, household-name celebrities in their own right. And increasingly so, the branded lifestyle line is becoming the go-to playbook of any celeb with a decent fandom. See: Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, etc. But as we start to see more and more apparel brands backed by Formula 1 drivers drop, it begs the question: how many branded hoodies and T-shirts do racing fans actually want? Next year, with each driver, plus Formula 1 itself stating that their lines will be growing, apparently the answer is more.