A moment for the enduring style legacy of David & Victoria Beckham

A moment for the enduring style legacy of David & Victoria Beckham

by Eric Brain
6 min

It’s 1997, David Beckham is rapidly becoming one of the greatest footballers in British history, and Victoria Beckham (then “Posh Spice” née Adams) is breaking records across the Top 40 Charts with her girl group, the Spice Girls. The ‘90s was the precursor to Y2K’s obsession with celebrity culture, and the Beckhams were at the epicentre of this new-wave cult pop status, something that only grew when the two got engaged in 1998. Brooklyn Beckham was born a year later, and four months later in July 1999, David and Victoria were married. It sent the tabloids into pandemonium, but this wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for one of the world’s most famous celebrity couples. 

Back in 1998, David Beckham broke conventions with that sarong. He wore it during the 1998 World Cup in France, and was papped by The Sun, which ran the image on its newspaper’s front page with the headline “Beckham has got his Posh frock on.” Clearly, this was not 2023 – this was the ‘90s, in the UK, when The Sun was at the very top of the tabloid table. It was known for its provocative headlines and unorthodox (read: unethical) reportage, not afraid to cause a stir in favour of selling papers. But in mocking Becks, The Sun showed that even Golden Balls wasn’t off the cards when it came to making a quick buck. 

As Beckham put it himself in an interview with The Telegraph: “Twenty years ago when I wore that sarong, people were shocked. It was an outrage; ‘why are you wearing that? What were you thinking?’ Today no-one bats an eyelid if a guy wears a sarong in the street.” In 2018, The Telegraph’s Stephen Doig wrote, “David Beckham insists he was ahead of his time.” Doig and Becks couldn’t have predicted the story of the Beckham’s style legacy, and influence, any better if it had tried, given the rise in men wearing skirts today. 

Together, Vicks and Becks were the dynamic duo of peak Brit fashion. They often paired their looks: the all-black leather Versace co-ords at a New Year’s Eve party in 1999; Becks sporting a number one buzz cut while wearing a suit and holding a cane, matching the floral tones of Victoria’s dress, at Elton John’s Aids Foundation Annual “White-Tie and Tiara Ball” in 2001; the entire year of 2002 when the duo exclusively wore Police sunglasses; David’s snakeskin leather jacket that complemented Victoria’s all-black leather number… there’s too many iconic looks to note. 

But the duo didn’t just provoke the media for the sake of provocation. Instead, the couple that defined a golden era of “making it big” in the UK were way ahead of the curve – so much so, many of their looks influence the very clothes we pick up on the racks today, new or old. Not to bang on about that matching leather Versace ensemble, but if we don’t see couples doing this for Halloween, we’ve failed. 

Posh Spice and Golden Balls are tastemakers beyond their years. They were one of the first celebrities to dress it down on the red carpet or in typical formal settings – like when Becks shook the hand of the then-Prince Charles during the year-2000’s Party in the Park wearing a sleeveless nylon vest and a (upon reflection, controversial) durag. But beyond this is an enduring style legacy. 

TikTok is full of “cores,” and one of those “cores” is all things blokette. Bloke-core and football inspirations have informed fashion designers like Sinead Gorey (who also referenced Ginger Spice for her Spring/Summer 2024 collection), Palace per its “Spice Up Your Life” T-shirt, and Martine Rose, which consistently delivers nods to football, multicultural British-isms, and subcultures. Furthermore, terrace culture and Y2K aesthetic approaches are continuously prevalent in today’s fashion-savvy generation, à la the hype for adidas Samba trainers and archive Jean Paul Gaultier. It all stems back to personalities like David and Victoria Beckham – the unsuspecting vanguards who served as inspiration then, and inspiration now. 

But it’s not just the looks that were game-changing. It’s what the looks stood for. David Beckham, for example, had the power to dismantle some of the negative rhetoric associated with football. Whether he wore a buzz, frosted tips, or a mullet did not matter as much as his clothes – baggy jeans paired with Gucci Horesebit loafers, tight-fitting leathers, big buckle belts, rosary chains, or perfectly laid-back “Hollywood White” vests was Becks’ 2000s uniform. Posh, on the other hand, pioneered low-rise denim, “bigger the sunnies, the better,” statement belts, denim bustier tops, and enough stylistic diversity to make her the bonafide fashion designer that she is today. 

The way they dressed, which often complimented one another’s outfits, has paved the way for a generation of fashion-forward footballers. Without David Beckham, would stylists care to work with Son Heung-min, Héctor Bellerín, Mo Salah, or Kylian Mbappé? We think not.

And on a relatable note (well, more relatable than Victoria Beckham being taken to school in her dad’s Rolls-Royce), the duo’s style is as relevant to many of us today as it was back in the 2000s. Don’t tell me that David Beckham’s thirst trap adverts of him in a pair of tighty whities didn’t get a generation going. Victoria Beckham’s recent SS24 fashion show saw everyone wanting to attend, including Kim Kardashian. Again, don’t tell me this doesn’t bring weight in influence. 

And with this in mind, combined with Netflix’s new documentary series Beckham, it’s about time Posh and Becks get their flowers for all the fashun they pulled off together. The series highlights (no pun intended) David Beckham’s various influential hair styles, Victoria’s WAG-era wardrobe, and in turn, reminds us of what many of us – and the brands we adore – are trying to achieve today. 

As hard as Kourtney and Travis try, we’ll probably never see a couple like this in pop culture again. What makes the Beckham’s so important in fashion is their relatability – growing up in the ‘90s and noughties, you either wanted to be a footballer or a Spice Girl. And now, as trends come and go and come back around, we’re doing the most to emulate the Beckham’s highly-curated style. 

David Beckham’s all-white diamanté adidas tracksuit worn at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games; his popped collar at the MOBO Awards in 1999; his love for a leather overcoat; that sarong – each is a moment in history that’s now repeating itself. It’s not just relatable. It’s not just a trend cycle. It’s not just us wanting to reminisce about the past. It’s us finally recognising that, after all these years, maybe David and Victoria Beckham’s looks were not such fashion faux pas after all.

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Main Image: Courtesy of @davidbeckham©

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