Clothing fit for a king (Cantona): Manchester United-inspired designers talk rivalries and fashion

By David Aspinall

“We are United fans so making a hat for a Liverpool fan would be like having an affair with the girl who bullied your Mrs at school when you were kids,” says Nick.

“We wouldn’t want to be contributors to dragging the Blues across the city out of their Le Coq Sportif and Ben Shermans would we?” 

Well that clears that up then.

It doesn’t appear that Nick Dydyna and his brother Marcus have any intention of extending their Manchester United inspired label, Rosso Bianco Nero 1878, to any other football teams, especially their two deadliest rivals.

This will be seen as a shame to numerous fans nationwide as they cast envious glances towards Old Trafford this season.

A cult following has emerged since RBN1878’s birth in January this year, something Nick attributes to the help of United fanzines Red Issue and Red News.

Borne out of Nick’s frustration at being unable to find a good quality, reasonably-priced United bobble hat, in a world of ‘Full Kit Wankers’ (see the Twitter page), subtlety is paramount for RBN1878. 

The Red Devil doesn’t adorn their clothing and only the club’s suit crest appears on a select few hats and scarves to give away their United connection. 

“Some people like going to the match in football shirts or club branded clothing; that’s their prerogative but it’s not for us that,” explains Nick.

“We have always worn very subtle clothing brands my brother and I, simple subtle designs just seem to work.”

Despite this subtlety, their heritage is still there. Rosso Bianco Nero is Italian for red, white and black, United’s colours, and 1878 is the year the club was founded as Newton Heath.

The two brothers’ love affair with the Old Trafford club started in 1988 when Nick was taken to his first game against Coventry City by his dad.

Unsurprisingly for a lad attending his first football match the result, but not much else, is imprinted on his memory; a 1-0 victory.

Nick says their father gave them both a ‘brilliant football education’ which led to them sharing a season ticket in the Stretford End throughout the nineties.

Over the years they have followed the club across Europe and it is these experiences, old kits, train journeys and the music that accompanied them, which influence their designs heavily.

“Both myself and my brother Marcus have always been into fine clothing, which has always really gone hand in hand with lads going to the match,” explains Nick.

“It really seemed like a natural progression for us to start producing our own clothing after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the brands that were on offer and the ever increasing price tags to match.”

The brothers have lived in Manchester their whole lives and spent their youth surrounded by the nineties music scene dominated by bands like The Stone Roses and Oasis.

This theme is reflected in their t-shirts and artwork by the recurring ‘Stretford Ender’ character, who appears to be quintessentially Mancunian.

Furthermore, local producers play a significant part in the manufacturing process.

Nick states: “Our Bobble Hats and scarves are all made in Manchester which, for us, is great.

“To have our products made within the city is brilliant.”

Their clothing ranges pay homage to some of United’s great sides; 1968’s Bobby Charlton-inspired team that became the first English side to lift the European Cup and Sir Alex Ferguson’s first crop of trophy-winning players in 1990.

At their respective ages of 32 and 30, Nick and Marcus have known nothing other than Ferguson in their United watching days, until this summer’s seismic change.

Nick concedes that it hasn’t been an instant success for David Moyes, Ferguson’s appointed successor, but neither has it been a disaster.

“There has been some elements giving the new manager some grief already; I wouldn’t say that’s the thing to do really,” muses Nick. 

“The greatest manager we will ever witness chose him so who are we to argue with his choice?

“I’d love Moyes to succeed. There’s something of the old romantic about another Scot doing well in charge of United.”

In addition, specific items have been given players’ names such as the ‘McClair’, ‘Robins’ and brand new ‘Sealey’ bubble hats.

Of course there is a hat for Nick’s favourite player, the charismatic enigma himself, he of the seagulls.

“Eric Cantona is, and probably always will be, the player for me,” he says.

“I was of the right age to appreciate that kind of footballer. I guess you could say he shaped my youth growing up going to the match.

“I’d love to get him in a hat!”

Apart from getting ‘Le Roi’ in one of their beanies, their other aims are relatively straight forward.

Nick says that, as football fans, their ultimate goal was to make a jacket and shirt, and plans are already well advanced for one of them.

“We have recently been given the opportunity to work with tuktuk – an independent shirt maker,” explains Nick.

“For us to be linked with a company like tuktuk is obviously more than pleasing and we have achieved our first goal of making a shirt.”

The collaborative shirts are due to be available in December and if it is anything like the rest of the range you’ll have to be swift to score one.

A quick glance at their Twitter feed shows endless amounts of fans desperately trying to get hold of that last beanie hat or enquiring when a scarf will next be put into production.

RBN1878 shun mass production in an effort to protect the brand’s uniqueness.

However, for now the brothers just want to further establish the brand as not too many people are currently aware of its existence – something they concede isn’t such a bad thing currently.

“We are learning as we go really. A lot has happened in the last ten months it’s been a bit of a roller coaster for us,” says Nick.

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