Meet Ebun Olaloye, founder of Live Breathe Futbol, and maybe win a shirt in the process.
To the football community in the United States, the question is a familiar one: How can we help football grow as a sport domestically? Every member of the conversation has his or her own theory and opinion on how to do this, or fix what’s wrong with “American soccer.” A cursory visit to your everyday fan forum or Twitter will only reinforce this trend.
Some speak about the country’s grassroots soccer movement, and its lack of quality coaching and inability to transition thousands of youth players into dedicated fans (and consumers!) of the sport. Some speak about the strength, or lack thereof, of America’s domestic league, Major League Soccer. Critics goad MLS to sign more star players in their prime, not past it; the need for more lucrative national television deals; and a lack of mainstream media coverage about players not named David Beckham (though David Villa’s arrival to New York is helping matters).
At Eight by Eight, we believe that a healthy culture surrounding the sport is essential to advancing this conversation—and perhaps one day resolving it. One of the great privileges we experience as a publication, and member of the global football community, is interacting with the many creative, dedicated, and entrepreneurial individuals who help develop this culture through their respective endeavors. We believe that these individuals, and the exciting work they are producing, should be celebrated. To do this, we’ll be spotlighting some of our favorite work that’s helping grow the American football community, whether that be through t-shirts, illustrations, or philanthropic efforts.
The first in this series is Live Breathe Futbol, an apparel company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and its founder, Ebun Olaloye. Olaloye officially founded the company with his partner Domenick at the age of 21, but the groundwork for the company was laid well before then. Now 24, he is helping to drive the bourgeoning football community in Philadelphia and beyond. We recently spoke with Olaloye about Live Breathe Futbol and his experience building the company.
What is Live Breathe Futbol?
Live Breathe Futbol is passion and love for the beautiful game expressed through beautifully-designed clothing.
How and why did you start an apparel company?
I used to hand-paint t-shirts and sell them to my friends as a high school freshman. Then my sophomore year I painted a new shirt to wear to school everyday, not repeating a single shirt in 180 days of school. Shortly thereafter, I knew I wanted to start my own apparel line, but life kinda got in the way. Then on my 21st birthday I realized I wasn’t getting any younger, so I started LBF. I’ve always loved fashion and studying what people wear, so an apparel line made sense. It’s what I knew.
What insights into the growing culture of American football fans have you gained since starting LBF?
Perhaps I feel this way because of the advent of social media, but the american soccer culture/landscape is very close-knit and there seems to be a genuine love and support for anything born from that. It’s the reason why LBF, Eight by Eight, and so many startups work and gain traction so quickly.
What is the culture around the game like in Philadelphia?
The culture here is amazing. It’s such a small world, so everyone knows each other. I can go to any college in the city and find a pick up game going on. I thought I knew all the spots, but just last week I discovered a group of guys who play futsal on Tuesdays. And there’s also the local bars like Fado and Misconduct Tavern that you’ll find folks watching EPL matches at on Saturday mornings. For me, though, nothing beats the culture we started at Temple University almost seven years ago called “Balling After Dark,” where a group of us began playing everyday on the turf fields and in the gyms. We’d get kicked out, but no matter how hard management tried, they couldn’t stop football. Seven years on and we’re all still friends and the games still go on.
What were the inspirations behind your World Cup line?
We wanted to truly express ourselves and our influences with the World Cup lines. That’s why we launched two separate collections, the first a product of our American roots (American Futbol) and the second a celebration of the history of the World Cup. With American Futbol, we wanted to examine the complex relationship that the United States has with soccer and the other football. Ultimately, it’s about promoting the lifestyle so many people across the world lead within the context of the World Cup and the passion we all have for it.