With two companies dominating the football shirt landscape these days, Nike and adidas, it didn’t take long for fans to notice something rather curious among each manufacturers’ design efforts.
All the kits look the same!
Sure, a color or a badge may be different here or there, but both of the preeminent companies making football kits have relied greatly on just a few basic “templates” — not that the smaller ones were any exception, they were just less visible by definition. In fact, for many of the templates employed, one could often buy just basic versions sold as team-training equipment at various sporting goods supply stores. (And those who ever designed or uploaded custom kits for games like Football Manager, were quite familiar with this paradigm already.)
While this has been the case for some time, to be sure, some of Nike’s Chelsea efforts had become rather egregious lately. Making us look like Tottenham, and vice-versa, is not a good strategy!
Chelsea and Tottenham's kits... pic.twitter.com/z5BRYTUPM9— Footy Warriors (@FootyWarriors) July 4, 2017
Adidas are no different, before you start pining for the days of three stripes on Chelsea kits, recently coming under heavy fire for their incredibly boring and formulaic MLS shirts — every MLS team has to use adidas, per league rules, and thus all were stuck with the “EQT” template, with the three stripes on the shoulders.
Not even in the USA, where most professional leagues, be that the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, etc, use single-template uniforms for the
teams franchises, was this well received!
BUT, there’s apparently hope on the horizon!
Nike released three kits yesterday, for the USA, South Korea, and Nigeria national football teams. And get this, they were all different, at least as different as football shirts can be!
There wasn’t a single common feature among the six total shirts, with different collar designs, main patterns, sleeve cuffs, fonts, and various other design element placements being used. The shorts and socks were a less varied, but no one really cares about those.
The Nigeria shirts, as Nike’s previous efforts for them in fairness, garnered the most attention and praise, including from our friends at The Liverpool Offside. Nike invested big in Liverpool just recently, so perhaps it was unsurprising that their complaints didn’t fall on deaf ears. On the contrary, they fell on the ears of Heidi Burgett, Nike’s Senior Director of Global Communications.
And Burgett had some fantastic news to share: Nike are “ditching the templates!” Or, to be more specific, they’re switching to 65
templates “chassis options” from the bareful handful that were in common circulation:
“We’re ditching the templates. For the 2020 kits, Nike designers had 65 chassis options available to them across varying necklines, sleeves, cuffs, badge placement, etc. From hand-drawn prints to custom fonts, each team’s look will be its own.”
-Heidi Burgett; source: Twitter
Nike have seen the light! All three kits released yesterday feature hand-drawn patterns on at least one of the shirts, which should really add to the custom looks for to the teams, much more in line and in touch with their individual heritages.
We're ditching the templates. For the 2020 kits, Nike designers had 65 chassis options available to them across varying necklines, sleeves, cuffs, badge placement, etc. From hand-drawn prints to custom fonts, each team’s look will be its own.— Heidi Burgett (@heidiburgett) February 5, 2020
Though this is great news, we will still reserve judgment until we start seeing the 2020 batch of Nike-designed shirts. So far, even Footy Headlines only has color combinations (which probably underlines Nike’s complete revamping of their methodology — normally we’d have the full kits practically leaked in most years by now).
But Nike are off to a good start!
UPDATE: Nike’s previously leaked 2020 England, Portugal, China, and Greece shirts underline this shift in design methodology as well!
Of course, even with an increased number of combinations and design choices, some will look similar. So, temper your expectations.