2023 has been an intense year for Louis Tomlinson. First there was the release of his documentary All Of Those Voices (2023), then the premiere to the movie which was a success at the box office, making an amazing $1.7 million worldwide, with an audience rating of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Tomlinson has also been busy with the 3rd instalment of the Away From Home Festival (held in Parco BussolaDomani a Lido Di Camaiore, Italy), The Faith In The Future World Tour, and now a clothing line: the 28 Official Programme dedicated to Tomlinson’s love of football.
The drop for the clothing line landed on August 28th, sending fans into a frenzy and leaving some utterly surprised as many speculated the drop to be September 28th. Was this done intentionally to avoid suspicion or will there be something big happening on the originally speculated date of September 28th?
The drop was a complete success, with many items completely sold out including the pink hoodie heartstopper star and openly bisexual actor Kit Connor sported weeks before the drop, teasing the fashion line. This also gave rise to fans linking the bisexual actor to the artist’s questioned sexuality and connection to former bandmate, Harry Styles, as days after Kit’s costar, Sebastian “Bash” Croft, was seen on Instagram wearing Styles’ brand Pleasing. Was this a coincidence or is this Larry Stylinsion’s way of letting the fans know they’re here and not going anywhere.
Recently Tomlinson was interviewed by Hypebeast where he opened up about his life and fashion influences growing up in Doncaster. He added “When I grew up, I viewed Doncaster as a working-class town. Now, when I go back to Doncaster, the streets have a real sense of style. That wasn’t the norm for me growing up; it was just scruffy and cool… We couldn’t afford really nice clothes, so it was just about working with what you got.” Following the interview, he spoke about how when he was starting out he wasn’t given the opportunity to explore his own style, being told by others in the industry what was cool and having to fit the mold of what others wanted. Louis wanted to be free with his style in his own brand.
The number 28 is significant to both Tomlinson and fans. He appears to hold 28 close to his heart, having the number on most shirts he wears, including having it as his squad number when playing football. Most significantly, Tomlinson has the number tattooed on his fingers, a highly noticeable and difficult to cover up place. It has even played a part in dates for merchandise drops and announcements.
However, for most fans, 28 is a complete mystery that leads to speculation about the romantic connection between Tomlinson’s former band mate Harry Styles, who recently was spotted wearing a mickey mouse t-shirt displaying “made since 1928.” Some even believe the 28th of september was the day Styles and Tomlinson tied the knot. Conspiracy or not, the number plays a massive role for his fans and has changed the lives of many, allowing fans to find a community where they belong and where they can be proud of who they are and wave their flags of colours at his shows with pride. It’s not just a number, it’s a sign of hope and dreams, a sign of faith and bravery in the future, and a number of fun and mystery that will always leave you guessing and wanting more.
From the confusion of order emails (28 OP) coming through as Pleasing, the many tour dates, the possibility of new 28 OP drops coming every month, supposed “secret” sightings of the “Stylinson” pair at each others’ shows, and even Tomlinson being allegedly spotted on the set of My Policeman, it’s no wonder that fans share excitement in the number. It’s not surprising that many fans will continue to speculate on what Tomlinson will surprise us with next? Could he be dropping a new album, release a skin care brand, or will he be sharing the love he has for a curly haired boy and finally freeing himself publicly? Only time will tell. As Marcus Smart has famously said, there’s always a storm before a rainbow.