On and Off the Pitch with Cristiano Ronaldo and Nike

Athletic giant Nike and Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo played host to the launch of the Winter 2012 CR7 collection in Madrid this past Wednesday. The latest installment in the collaboration between Nike and Ronaldo embraces both the prowess of one of the world’s foremost athletic talents and Ronaldo’s bold off-the-field attitude and irreverent approach to style.

We gladly made the trip to the land of Almodóvar, Buñuel, and of course, Bardem. The week’s events took on a global powwow of sorts, as representatives from Japan, Russia, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK came together to attend the line’s launch and to catch a glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Madrid lifestyle, on and off the pitch. The festivities began at the famed Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, home of Real Madrid, at a UEFA Champions League match against German team Borussia Dortmund. Though still early on (Tuesday night’s game was only match day 4, the championship will culminate in May), the urgency and frenzy of the fans—from the raucous Dortmund-ers cheering and singing, to the equally loud Real Madrid crew, crying Muy bien! at every well placed pass—was palpable. We happened to be seating next to a Spanish grandpa sharing defense strategy with his adorable, Ronaldo-obsessed grandson. The flash of pink soles on Ronaldo’s CR7 Nike cleats made the player, and his actions, ever the more identifiable.

The following day we met with the brains (and the ears) behind Ronaldo’s newly recorded track for the CR7 ad campaign, Spanish super-producer Pepo and DJ Graham Thunder at the Red Bull Studios. Nike designer Andy Caine explained the impetus behind the collection before bringing out Ronaldo, the man of the evening, and his Real Madrid teammate Pepe. Ronaldo, when asked who he thought the most stylish soccer player joked, “Me!” before more humbly clarifying, “Everyone; everyone has their own thing going and that’s what makes things beautiful.”

“I think the unique thing about Cristiano is away from the pitch, he’s also very stylish,” said Caine. “We wanted to take his off-pitch persona, a more sophisticated, mature, stylish Cristiano, and bring that to the entire collection. We’re looking to take some of the elements and style of higher end fashion that he likes, but really mash that with a more relaxed side of Cristiano,” Caine explained. The collection, which offers both performance training gear in technologically savvy materials and relaxed sportswear lifestyle garments, provides function and comfort with a healthy injection of the signature Ronaldo twist.

Each item in the collection is unified by a graphic logo of a heart overlain by an X, representing Ronaldo’s perfectionist mantra. “It’s a symbol that reflects my way of being: I am a person who likes to compete, who likes to win and who hates to lose,” Ronaldo said. The performance pieces, along with a revamp of the signature CR Mercurial Vapor VIII boot, are done in black with electric hot pink and cyan detailing, while the lifestyle collection—sweatshirts, a track jacket, t-shirts (emblazoned with Ronaldo’s mantra in elaborate Portuguese calligraphy), and chukka boots—are modern updates on classic silhouettes in blue, black, and gray.

Ronaldo, who nurtures a passion for music making, stepped into the studio to record a track for the line’s advertising campaign, and brought Pepe in on bass. While beat boxing might be new territory for Ronaldo, he’s certainly adventuring in style.

The CR7 Winter collection will be available Nov. 15, from Nike.