Of course, a football shirt is a sporting garment. It needs to be comfortable, it needs to perform on the field. But these days, it needs to do so much more for manufacturers like Adidas and Nike. It needs to win on the street too.
The football shirt is no longer purely the attire of the hard-core football fan. In the build-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, many of the team shirts have attracted the attention of people who put aesthetics up front.
There have been iconic football jersey colours and designs over the years: Brazil’s famous yellow and the orange of the Netherlands, for example. Adidas, in particular, have used classic shirts from the 1980s and 1990s as inspiration for their 2018 designs.
Germany’s latest home shirt nods to the kit worn by West Germany when they won their third World Cup at Italia ’90. The Belgian players this summer have a diamond pattern on their chests, reminiscent of what their European Championship winning team wore in 1984. While Spain’s eye-catching vertical pattern on the right side of their redshirt is an update of their design for the 1994 World Cup held in the US.
Above: Junior Designer Jordan’s take on some retro-inspired Six team football shirts!
Winning in the fashion stakes
The whole kit game has changed. No longer is it enough to release a photograph of two outfield players and a goalkeeper wearing the home and away kits. New kits now get ‘announced’ via social media to kick off orders and sales.
The big noise this year has come from Nike’s design for Nigeria. And we’re not just talking about a match day shirt – it’s flamboyant training tops, hats and more. The response on social media was huge and positive, resulting in an amazing 3 million pre-orders. On release, it sold out before you could say Ikechukwu Ezenwa*.
Nigeria’s lime green, black and white home shirt is influenced by the distinct patterns of shirts in the early 1990s. Their shirt features a striking white and green body that features a feather pattern. Nike wants it to ‘turn heads on and off the pitch’. It’s worked.
Special mention here for my personal favourite. The blue Japanese home jersey by Adidas, with a white, dotted line pattern on the front, which is based on the traditional Sashiko stitching technique.
Design that puts the yards in
Design is at the heart of it all, but just as with the work we do at Six every day, it’s not design for the sake of design. It’s researched, relevant, tested, fit-for-purpose. It stands out and looks beautiful too.
To finish, it wouldn’t be a football based blog without a bit of pub-worthy trivia. In the 1974 tournament, Johan Cruyff sported just two stripes on each sleeve of his orange Netherlands shirt, rather than the famous three stripe Adidas design worn by the rest of the team. The Dutch master refused to wear the three stripes as he had a sponsorship deal with Adidas’ sportswear rival Puma. Cruyff got his way and his own shirt.
* Ikechukwu Ezenwa is a goalkeeper in the Nigeria World Cup squad, in case you were wondering.