HANOVER, N.J. – In a trade last week with Orlando City, the New York Red Bulls obtained Aurelien Collin, a strong, physical central defender who fits perfectly on their roster. But they got much more than a center back in their deal.
They also got a fashion designer with his own clothing label. Not too bad of a trade for a fourth-round pick in next year’s MLS Super Draft.
As he enters his sixth year in MLS, Collin has been one of the most successful central defenders in the league in recent history. Playing in MLS has been a good fit for the 30-year old and it has also helped launch a career in fashion that has been years in the making.
Collin says that professional soccer players in Europe have to focus on just the sport or potentially risk criticism from the press and fans. He has found the freedom to pursue other ventures off the pitch in the United States, provided that “you handle yourself like a professional.” His interest in fashion goes back to when he was a young boy, noting that “I always wanted to look good.
“New York is one of the capitals of fashion. It’s great, there are a lot of great stores,” Collin said.
“Fashion week is very interesting. I’m from Paris, and Paris and New York are very similar. To me, it is very exciting.”
On the field, Collin is rugged and tough, earning MLS’s Best XI honors in 2012 and being named MVP of MLS Cup a year later. He has some refinement to his game, a quality passer who is comfortable on the ball, but also has the well-earned reputation as a no-nonsense central defender. His career has taken him from France to Greece then England and Portugal before landing in the United States.
Now, being in MLS lets him mix two great hobbies.
More than just a passion for fashion, Collin has gone from clothing fan to being a designer. He at one time had two stores in Kansas City selling his brand, AC78 (the 78 is an homage to District 78, the part of Paris where Collin grew up). Now that he is in New York City, considered to be one of the fashion capitals of the world, he is open to the idea of dabbling more in design and possibly having another store.
His designs have something for everyone.
“It’s everything. Everything so it can be sweatpants to t-shirts to suits. It’s everything, it’s open. Someday you can wear sweatpants but still be dressed in a good way,” Collin said.
“I’m very eclectic. I want to be happy [in] my clothes, always want to be happy when you’re in your clothes.”