Sunday, July 04, 2010

World Cup Kit Parade: None of the above...

And so to the only four teams not signed up to the big three kit manufacturers (Adidas, Nike and Puma).

England's kit has never been supplied by any of those three (and we shudder to think what that might look like if it ever were). For the bulk of the last fifty-odd years it's been Umbro's privilege to do that and after numerous shirt designs they arrived at the 2010 vintage which was entirely white, save for the England badge and Umbro's red diamond logo.

Call it what you like – minimalist, plain, featureless, whatever – there's no getting away from the brilliant sense of simplicity it embodies. It's almost as if Umbro are saying only to things matter here – the national team's colour and the badge. If you think about it, that's quite an admirable stance to take as it brings everything back to the origins of kit design when fancy embellishments and weird colour-schemes were totally beyond comprehension.

There is, of course, the small matter of Umbro's 'tailored' styling which makes the shirt actually look like a shirt rather than a silky piece of fabric that's been rattled off a production line without any thought in southern Asia. It's got a proper collar, tapered sides and, well, it looks like it's just had a good ironing, frankly. 'Smart' barely does it justice…

But that's not all: the red away shirt was only recently launched and it too gives a generous nod in the direction of days gone by, notably the victorious era of the 1960's. With a round-necked shirt that was all red with only white cuffs to distract the view, the accompanying white shorts and red socks won’t have failed to bring back happy memories to all England fans of a certain age.

Ironically in this World Cup, we got to see this away kit in slightly modified form with the introduction of red shorts too. Very rarely have England worn an all-red change kit but when Fabio Capello's men strode out to play Slovenia a week ago or so, one wondered whether this wouldn't be the last we'd see of it. As it turned out, the Second Round match against Germany allowed for one more viewing, but we reckon it should be adopted permanently. It's bold, bright and a classic look for the England team to wear when the all-white isn't an option.

As for the other minor kit manufacturers, there's not a lot we can say really. Chile's kit is made by Brooks – probably better known for making sports shoes - and it too has been designed to be stylish in an understated way. Sadly we never got to see the change strip of white-red-blue, but at least the home strip looked smart without the garish use of formerly used devices like a huge Reebok logo.

North Korea seem to change kit manufacturer quite regularly, even switching to latest supplier Legea on the eve of the World Cup this summer. The Italian kit-maker promptly knocked off an uninspiring red outfit for the Dear Leader's boys and they duly repaid their gratitude by losing all three of their games, one of which saw them concede seven against Portugal. Perhaps a big Reebok logo might have done the trick…

Finally, there's Honduras and their kit was made by Joma, a Spanish company who are making inroads across many parts of the footballing world. Fans of Leicester City and Charlton will be all too familiar with the name, but whether they'll have been as satisfied as the Honduran fans with their kit remains to be seen.

The team from CONCACAF were seen all too briefly wearing an all-white strip featuring a shirt that had a blue band across the upper chest. The band faded from blue to white the nearer it got to the middle – a nice touch – and there were also some odd blue slashes either side of the bottom part of the shirt which, while serving no purpose, at least provided another point of interest. The away kit saw a reversal of the same, being all blue with white bits of business here and there. Quite nice, all in all.

And that's that. A very brief overview of the kits on show at this World Cup, and perhaps more importantly the sanity employed by each of the manufacturers when it came to designing them.

Once again, our great thanks go to John Devlin from True Colours Football Kits ( for the use of his excellent football kit graphics. To see all of John's World Cup kit designs in greater detail, click here.)


Anonymous said...

Umbro are owned by Nike so it's not like England are going it alone by using some independent kit manufacturer.

Futhermore, whilst the design of the kit was simplistic and there is nothing wrong with that, I would have preferred to see them in White Shirt, Blue Shorts like they've done so for years and as I believe they did so when playing Ukraine in 2009.

All white has usually only ever been the alternate home kit except for 98.

Chris O said...

Fair enough, Anonymous, although I've no doubt the people at Umbro have the passion and creativity to come up with such a great design regardless of any influence from Nike.

Agreed about the blue shorts. Although the 'all white' has been fantastic, it will be good to see whether a re-introduction of the classic navy blue shorts can live up to those standards too.


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