Uniform Aesthetics. And Our Third Kit.

[Disclaimer: I’m not a graphic designer, so pardon the terrible syntax and inaccurate jargon in the following post. And just refer to Paul Lukas’ Uni Watch for all uniform related interest.]

I got the third kit in the mail last week. Its long sleeve, gold, collared, and a gem.

But the best part about it is the Johnny Haynes “jacquard” print on the lower right torso. Sublime.

And it got me wondering: why don’t we see similar graphics on footy kits? Even if it’s the third kit with bizarre colors so it won’t offend the die-hards, why not get a little creative?

As some of you may know, I play Ultimate Frisbee. It’s probably one of my favorite sports for a whole myriad of reasons. But what I love most about the sport is the creativity in design teams (club, college, et al) have in their uniforms. Here’s a quick sampling of photos from club regionals, via usaultimate and ultiphotos.com. It may seem like a select sampling, but notice they don’t have the logo/text/etc on their chest. Instead it’s on their torso, back, or, well, everywhere.

But, after some searching for footy similarities, I found that only a couple of clubs, Marseille and their awesome designs aside, incorporate design elements (stripes aside; more on that later) into their kits. Marseille seemingly do it every year, whereas Juventus and Union Berlin tried it for this season with great results:

Personally, I think they look amazing (okay, the color of the Juve kit is suspect. But the idea is wonderful). I might even go buy the Union Berlin kit right now.

It’s the same if you look at other major sports. The logo/text/etc is almost exclusively on the chest. I don’t know if there is some edict from each specific league (very well could be), or just the uniform designers being conservative (University of Maryland Football aside). The only design elements that appear on a players torso are either stripes or solid colors.

Sometimes teams decide to rock the boat and get a bit more creative than the bland, narrow horizontal bar(s), but still don’t go “all-out” per se.

So why are uniforms so, well, predictable? If you Google “worst football kits” you can probably see why so many clubs are scared into doing something out-of-the ordinary. And for good reason; the Hull and Norwich kits from the early 90s look like a designer discovered the pattern function in the old MS Paint and thought it would make a good background color.

But then there are kits that are listed but shouldn’t be: the away Liverpool from ’94-‘96 and Manchester United from ’92-93. I’ll agree that they’re not executed well, but they incorporate the club’s crest in a unique way.

I get that Johnny Haynes probably won’t feature on the clubs actual third kit when they play, well, shit…they probably won’t be using it for the rest of the season huh? Oh well.

(How does the kit look after all? Oh right, here ya go…)

14 thoughts on “Uniform Aesthetics. And Our Third Kit.

  1. I’m ashamed to say that I owned that Man United blue kit, which is made even worse when you consider the shorts had the exact same pattern.

    They did a home kit a few seasons later that incorporated a picture of the stadium into the design – that was really well executed actually. As was the away blue and white kit that had the names of some of the club’s legendary players printed on it.

    As for this kit with the statue on it, it unfortunately reminds me of this NOT SAFE FOR WORK t-shirt http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31pCTbCrBcL.jpg

    The statue might have been better on the back.

  2. Good article. I have also recently pruchased my third kit but have yet to pick it up from the club shop and look forward to doing so. As a football kit collector (generous description) I have around 30 or 40 real and fake ones, I think the 90s was by far, the best era for them. They were exciting, interesting and different. So many kits now are just the gernetric makers kit with no or little thought and no though about the club and the fans. For instance, Tottenham have had a new kit every season for nearly ten years and only the recent one is in any way interesting or different. Its slightly sad that we do not want interesting designs that stand out from the rest.

  3. I’m not sure how true this is, but I read somewhere that the FA prevent having any logos or icons on kits apart from the club badge, sponsor, kit manufacturer and PL logo.

    There was an issue a couple of years back where Sunderland wanted their black cats mascot on the shirt, but were stopped. They got around this by sewing it into the shirt underneath the PL shoulder badges.

    Maybe the rules have just been tightened up to prevent guerilla advertising?

  4. I agree in principle, but bile yellow is not an appealing color. Reminds me of the University of Wyoming.

    Also, I had no idea Elijah Wood was a Fulham supporter.

  5. Balancing the requirements of tradition and innovation is very hard to do. So while I see the yellow shirt and its turin shroud motif and wonder what they think they’re up to, Timmy’s point is an interesting one. The club is treating the third shirt as an opportunity to push the boundaries a bit (sensible choice) and in that sense are to be congratulated for this attempt. I don’t particularly care for the execution – it always seems like every other club has nicer shirts than us – but I can now see what they’re up to.

    I got last year’s away shirt and actually quite like it, but I haven’t particularly cared for a kit since the Great Escape away (Portsmouth), which was only one of the Nike stock designs (simplicity…).

    Matt in the club shop likes the Kappa relationship because we have more opportunities to do what we want with Kappa than we would with a larger manufacturer. How this leads to the underwiring of the first and away shirts I don’t know, but again, I can see the angle here and conceptually (all black) they got things exactly right with at least one design (again, shame about the underwiring).

    Black and white (with red and now gold – the latter likely to be an unofficial Fulham colour) doesn’t leave you a lot of room to fit in local icons (the Thames would be nice, but while the river is actually a dull brown, it probably should be blue on a football strip) but hopefully they’ll come up with some good ideas and next year’s kits might be more buyable. I don’t imagine I’ll end up with one of this year’s as the black seems to be selling well and I don’t particularly care for either of the other two, but there’s always next season.

  6. I like FC Utrecht’s effort last year which is a lot like our third kit this year. Also by Kappa and with the city’s symbol, the Dom Tower on it. Looks great to me and maybe we can do something similar with the Thames.

    Inter tried to do something different with a dragon all the way down the side of the shirt. this was on the away last year, not sure if it’s the most successful rendition but yes I love to see more unique things and patterns on shirts.

  7. timmy, I’m not too sure whether you’ve included the Astros shirt [Bi-Gi-Oh!! Bi-Gi-Oh!!] as an example of the good or the bad/ugly. It’s usually considered one of the worst baseball uniforms in history, but as a long-time Astros fan, I’ve always quite liked it.

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