INTERVIEW: Felicia Pennant, Editor-in-Chief of SEASON Zine
Image credit: Vasilis Photiou
The thing that strikes me most when talking with Felicia is her encyclopaedic knowledge of, and unwavering passion for, football and fashion. One minute she’s telling me how she remembers, vividly, the exact moment she learnt of Alexander McQueen’s death, the next she’s schooling me in the successes and failures of various football managers. She tells me in the same breath how excited she was to meet both Franca Sozzani and Frank Lampard. You could say Felicia is not your ‘stereotypical’ football fan – she works in fashion, studied fashion history and theory at Central St Martins and is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of SEASON Zine, a biannual zine that champions female fashion and football fans. Through this, she is single-handedly changing the way the female football fan is viewed, creating a community of like-minded girls and women. We sat down and chatted SEASON Zine, her football fandom and her other love, fashion.
On creating SEASON Zine:
“I always thought at some point I would like to have my own magazine. My final year thesis was called From Beckham to Balotelli: Suits, shoots and metro sexuality. While researching, I came across a book called The Fashion of Football, which chronicles footballers’ style and relationship with fashion from the 1960s to the early noughties. From that book, a little seed was sown because I thought, this book’s great, but there’s nothing about women in here and it stops in the noughties.
As I started doing internships, I met all these creative women who were into football and I realised there’s this perception of female fans, like if you google it you get really sexualised imagery and I always think I’ve never seen anyone dressed like that. Of course, it’s your prerogative if you want to but to have that as the main image is annoying. [In 2015] where I was currently working I felt like I needed a creative outlet to experiment and bring my own ideas to fruition. So, I floated the idea [of SEASON Zine] around and the first issue was published in 2016. It took a year to do because when it’s the first one no one knows what you’re doing and you’re still having to convince people. Luckily Naoko Scintu [FKA Twigs’ make-up artist] just got it and she was our first cover star. We had such a small print run and the theme was just the female fan because I really thought we’d just do one, but then it was quite well received so I thought let’s keep going with this.
SEASON Zine is a creative space away from established names where you can experiment and share opinions freely, there aren’t really any constraints. To have that space where I can set the agenda of what we do, react to things and collaborate with up and coming talent is really exciting. We’ve not only got a magazine we can all be proud of, but it’s a historical thing, too. It’s in the British Library, so it’s like a time capsule and hopefully this will be a primary resource in the future!
An important part of SEASON is sharing stories and voices you don’t hear. There are female fans but there’s a lack of visibility and when you do see them it’s just a photograph, there’s no voice attached, you can’t hear their passion. It can be lonely as a female fan because quite often you’re the only one in your group of female friends who likes it, so something like SEASON can say ‘hey, we’re all here, we’re spread out but we’re all here’ and that’s why I want to do more events because it’s important to bring everyone together.
In terms of what’s next for SEASON Zine, it’s a World Cup year so thinking about ways we can add women to the conversation in an authentic and creative way is something that’s big on my mind. We’re the only women’s title in this area and knowing that makes it worth it because there’s a lot of late nights, stress and worries. I freak out when I get all the issues delivered to my house because I look at them and think, if I didn’t have all of this I’d have my own place, but I think it’s worth it.”
On being a female football fan:
“My earliest proper football memory would be the 2004 Euro final between Portugal and Greece. I watched the whole game, Greece won and I just remember Cristiano Ronaldo crying on the pitch at the end and I thought, why’s he crying? But I got really into it because I was quite bored that summer and then I just decided from then on I was going to follow this properly.
At boarding school, none of the other girls were into football so I’d always have the big TV room to myself and I kind of liked that because it was my thing. There was another girl in my year who was a Chelsea fan but we weren’t close, she was really sporty and I was more into music and history. [I asked Felicia if she’s ever been into playing football] No, never. They tried, we would play football at school but I have no desire to head a ball or throw myself on the ground for a ball and potentially injure myself, that’s just pain.
It always used to surprise people when I said I was into football, they’d say ‘but you’re into fashion,’ and I’m like yeah, I can have more than one interest. We are all multi-dimensional people and it’s not so far removed when you think of how footballers peacock on the pitch.
[I asked Felicia about her experiences of watching football and being a woman in a crowd of mostly men] I think it’s alright, if I have banter with people it’s not because I’m a woman it’s because I’m a Chelsea fan. When people realise you’re seriously watching the game it’s not really a problem, I’ve been known to sit by myself in a pub and watch it. It’s pretty well known that there are women who are into football, but there will always be the stupid, juvenile ones. However, if you’re secure in your fandom, then it’s annoying but it’s up to you if you entertain it and sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle.
When you think back to the Women’s Euros [last year], they did fantastically well but where are the follow up articles? Where’s the continued coverage? You forget it even happened. But you can’t just blame the men, there are way more women’s magazines that aren’t covering this either. It’s funny because when you think about football everyone talks about the money and yes, fundamentally, this is a business, but then there’s a whole market here (women) that isn’t being tapped into, but if you did you’d make a profit.
There’s a real push at the moment to recruit young girls and get them into football and that’s really great, but what about the girls in their twenties and older who are discovering football now? There’s an initiative in Essex called She Can Play and they do training sessions for kids and also for the mums so they’re a bit more inclusive and I think that’s really great, but generally older women are still being overlooked. On the other hand, I was never inclined to play football, I got into it as a fan, as a form of entertainment – I love the game and the skill – and right now the conversation is focussing only on the women who play. When I talk about female fans, I mean fans who play and don’t play, they’re both valid to me.”
“I went to boarding school at Christ’s Hospital and the uniform is one of the most distinctive in the world, so I was always really aware of dress and the idea of uniforms. Having such a distinctive uniform started me thinking about the power of dress and when I was about 14 I got into more conventional fashion. I did history of art so looking at paintings and the whole idea of whether this is real dress or costume and clothing as a device to impart a message or propaganda. My course at uni was very much about curation and fashion history and we went to a lot of archives, which was great – I’m geeky like that, I love going to exhibitions.
I started my first internship when I was 16. There’s kind of a cycle of bad practice with internships and treating people badly, less so now but before it was like, well I had to do this so you’ve got to, too. I’ve been run around London with a broken suitcase doing returns and yes it was horrible, but on the flip side it was character building and it means that I appreciate what I’m doing now.
I’ve been in and around fashion for 10 years now; I understand it, I know how it works but I’m also quite cynical about it. I think there’s caring too much and there’s not caring enough and I think you need to care just enough and have other things going on. It can be unhealthy if it’s your whole life and it’s life or death to you – it’s really not in the grand scheme of things, we’re not doctors. I think if you’re in fashion then you love it, you love it fundamentally and you want to be in and around it. It’s incredibly exciting as a whole cycle and that’s why over the course of my career I’ve tried to do a bit of everything – production at fashion week, a bit of PR, I’ve assisted stylists and then working at magazines, too – to understand the whole process.
Solange and Rihanna inspire my style in different ways, but purely because of their attitude. They’re like, I know what works for me, I know what I like and I’m going to wear it in my way and they’re setting trends rather than following. There are a lot of people who are well dressed, but those two just bring something new to the table. For instance, Rihanna’s maybe put on a bit of weight, but she looks awesome and she’s just doing her thing. And then with Solange, she’s an interesting one because she started with that whole 70s disco thing and she’s a bit more modern and avant garde now and it’s cool, she now has the freedom to experiment and be true to her spirit. For me it’s not about copying their looks, it’s more about the attitudes because style is individual to the person."
This interview has been edited for clarity.