The Mariners will be cutting a dash off the pitch after being kitted out by a new menswear boutique.
Master Debonair, a new store in East Boldon, has provided South Shields FC with suits for travelling to matches and club ceremonies.
First to try out the new dapper look was former Black Cat favourite turned Mariners midfielder, Julio Arca.
After online success with the venture, owner Simon Whitaker decided to leave his job as a sales director to open the boutique, which has transformed a former furniture shop in Station Terrace.
Tailoring, tweed and sharp suits with a twist are already flying out of the door at Master Debonair, which owners say is aimed at kitting out the “modern British gentleman.”
Simon said: “It was great to see Julio in the suit. We used to live in South Shields before moving to East Boldon and wanted to give something back, so contacted the club to ask if we could kit them out.”
Simon and his wife Eve were inspired to set up the store after Simon’s father Robert Whitaker died suddenly last November, aged 64.
“My dad was always a very snappy dresser. His very first job was at Burton, the tailors, in Sunderland,” said Simon. “I wanted to dress smartly for his funeral but really struggled to find things like lapel pins and tie clips. There just wasn’t anything out there.
“His sudden death also made me look at my own lifestyle and I decided it was time to make a change.”
The unit in East Boldon became available a month ago, with Simon managing to turn it around in a fortnight, stocking brands including tailoring by Claudio Lugli, Bucktrout and Marc Darcy and shoes by Eves & Gray and Goodwin Smith.
“We want to offer something a little bit different to what you would get on your normal high street,” said Simon, “It’s all about the detail: the stitching, the lining, the buttons.
“A lot of our suppliers say we’re actually bucking the trend by opening an actual store like this, as the independent market is shrinking. But customer feedback has been great. We’ve had men coming in aged from 18-80. One man said he’d always struggled to find suits to fit because he’s so tall, but he’s managed to find them here.
“Online, we’ve had orders from Scotland, Plymouth and Wales, with customers asking if we’re going to open shops elsewhere in the country.”