We've made a lot of historical concept shirts in our time, from FC Stroitel Pripyat to Londinium FC and beyond. Over the years though, one of the "so-called Top 6" historical civilizations remained untouched. Why? Because we knew that when we tackled it, we had to go bigger than ever.
So that's exactly what we've done with the Hellenic League of Champions: our take on the soccer world of Ancient Greece. Featuring 24 teams with meticulously-crafted kits and lore, we've locked ourselves away in our study and taken "fantasy league" to a whole new level.
In honour of the launch of the Hellenic League of Champions, we want to take you inside Icarus HQ for a look at what goes into building an entire league from scratch. Surprisingly, the answer isn't billions of dollars in sovereign wealth.
While other kids were building forts or playing video games, Robby Smukler spent his childhood researching the history and culture of random places so he could sketch crests and football kits for imaginary clubs that played there. Or so the myth goes.
Others might've grown out of their childhood passions, but instead, Robby's turned his into one of the fastest growing and most innovative football kit brands in the world, working with more than 2500 teams the world over.
Though working with our brilliant community of teams is our first priority, we love having the freedom to keep Icarus' tradition of historical kits alive - for ourselves, and for those who've been with Icarus since day one.
Of course, Step 1 was Robby doing what he does best, scouring through the history books to find the 24 teams who would have qualified for Ancient Greece's very own Champions League, from Helios Rhodes to FC Massalia to everything in between.
Extensive moodboarding - and conversations with well-read friends in the classics world - followed, before each team had a kit they could call their own. Design inspiration came from all over, with Ancient Greek architecture, coinage, ceramics and art interplaying with contemporary design elements we're used to seeing (or not used to seeing) in modern football.
We don't just love football kits for their design, though. What's most potent is how a kit relates to a club's history, culture or fandom, and so we took world building to its logical extreme. What started as 24 jersey designs soon became a fully-realised Hellenic League of Champions, the knockouts of which would culminate in a final between fierce rivals (and Trojan War opponents) Troy City and Mycenae.
In an unprecedented commitment to the bit, we even headed to Athens to capture the kits in their spiritual birthplace. Throughout the trip we committed to a diet of souvlaki and Greek beer to pay homage to the diet of the Hellenic League of Champions spectator (do not fact check).
We also dug deep into the history books (and our dictionary of niche football references) to make this much more than just a collection of shirts, baking local rivalries, cult heroes and founding myths into 24 team biographies. There's something for everyone in there, and some things that are probably for absolutely nobody. Of course, we had to then put these all into one tidy matchday program, given out to spectators of that fiery Hellenic League of Champions final at the foot of Mount Olympus.
Not only does the program give fans a handy recap of the route to the final, but there’s also a crossword at the end, for those matchgoers who weren’t interested in the half-time satyr play.