David Beckham as England captain.
David Beckham as England captain.

NEW YORK, Mar 7, 2002/  — Marks & Spencer wants to make it easier for young English lads to emulate David Beckham. The soccer star – and husband of former Posh Spice, Victoria – has signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the British retailer to design and promote a casual clothing line for boys.

Dubbed Zip Project, the range of tops, bottoms and accessories will hit shelves in September.

“For some time now I have been enjoying the creative side of my commercial work and when Marks & Spencer offered me the opportunity to actively assist in the design of clothing for youngsters, I was delighted,” the athlete said today in a statement.

“I want to create the kind of clothes which I would have wanted to wear when I was younger.”

This isn’t Beckham’s first foray into design though. According to one of his teammates, he helped determine the look of Manchester United’s uniforms for the upcoming World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Off the field, he prefers designer duds, and has even been known to step out in a sarong.

Though quite a coup for the Beckhams’ checkbook, this new deal doesn’t do much for the star couple’s credibility.

In November, their spokesperson quelled rumors that they were in talks with Marks & Spencer, saying “Victoria and David Beckham would like to make it clear that they are not planning to appear in any campaign for Marks & Spencer.

They were extremely shocked to see that they were in talks with M&S, as no talks have ever taken place at any time.”

Perhaps they’ve changed their minds about associating themselves with the middle-range department store now that Mrs. Beckham’s more high-end endorsement engagements seem to have soured.

Last June the pop princess signed a contract to be the face of Voyage, the members-only London boutique that went into liquidation three weeks ago.

M&S is hoping that its association with David Beckham will help continue its recent resurgence.

Thanks to new clothing lines and more modern stores, the retailer announced its most impressive holiday sales in years last month. Clothing sales were up more than 10 percent.

“David Beckham is the perfect icon for this boy’s wear range,” said Zip Project’s managing director Michele Jobling.

“Not only is he the number one sporting hero, but he is also a great style icon and role model – we are thrilled to have him on board.”

Beckham already has sponsorship deals with Adidas, Police sunglasses and Rage computer games, and his every style move is carefully monitored by the British press.

When he shaved his head in March 2000, the new look made front-page headlines in the U.K. for days. Just this week, the National Hairdressers Federation declared that Beckham’s latest ‘do appears to be growing into a mullet, raising fears that impressionable young boys will now attempt to achieve the hairstyle that has become a buzzword for bad taste.

“It will be David’s biggest challenge to make it fashionable, but I am sure he will pull it off,” Ray Seymour, NHF’s secretary, told the Daily Express.

All the better for M&S if he does. A new hair care line could also be quite a success.