New/Old Football Strips

April 27th, 2012 § 0 comments

In the last couple of days, both Celtic and Rangers have announced their new home strips for the 2012/2013 seasons. Assuming Rangers will even exist at the start of the season, there are some interesting elements to these designs. Although Celtic’s is made by Nike, and Rangers Umbro – both shirts have got a wee sponsor just above the heart. Tennents have kindly said “we can afford to be smaller” because they have the sponsorship of both clubs, and therefore (in Scotland anyway) have a monopoly on football shirt based exposure.

Tennents say (re the Celtic kit);

“Main club sponsor Tennent’s Lager, a supporter of Scottish football for almost 40 years, has changed its branding on the Club’s home shirts to mark the club’s 125th Anniversary. The logo will now appear below the club crest on the left breast of the shirt rather than across the chest as in previous seasons. Tennent’s believe that the way in which the brand has been incorporated into the new strip is a fitting way to celebrate the Club’s 125th anniversary.”

and (re Rangers);

“Main club sponsor Tennent’s Lager has kindly agreed to change its branding on the home shirt to help mark these significant anniversaries in Rangers’ history. The Tennent’s logo will now appear below the Club crest on the left breast of the shirt rather than across the chest as in previous seasons.”

Unsurprisingly similar comments there. Celtic are celebrating their 125th anniversary, Rangers their 140th (and 40th since their last and only European triumph in 1972). Anniversaries are strange things, based on the assumed importance of years ending in a 0 or a 5. This happy coincidence means both clubs have something to shout about – despite Celtic basing their anniversary on the ‘2012’ part of the season, and Rangers the ‘2013’. The ‘big’ clubs are not alone in celebrating anniversaries, St Mirren have a 135th (!) anniversary third (!) kit. Santos are also launching a 100th anniversary home and third kits.

What all of the above mentioned designs have in common is a desire to return to the simple, clean, elegant designs of their formative years. Apart from the proliferation (particularly on Santos and Brazilian kits in general) of sponsors that is, and I have already touched on possible reasons that contribute to Tennents decisions in that area.

Personally, I am a fan of simple designs of strips – I am also a fan of innovation though, strips that try to break the norm, like my recently purchased Partick Thistle grey and pink camoflauge (is that possible?) away kit.

So, on the whole, I quite like these designs. However, they are symptomatic of a contemporary desire to take inspiration directly from success’ of the past (this is not limited to football strips) instead of attempting to create a new language, because most attempts are so transient as to render the effort pointless. I am pretty sure that in 100 years, if they are still around, no one will be clamouring for a return to the Rangers Umbro kit of 2011/2012 – “The Adminstration Years” – not just because of the negative associations, but because it is dull. Same with Celtic’s kit – there is nothing about it that sticks in the mind. There will be continual cycles of fashion which lead kit designers again and again back to the original strips. Until some major leaps of imagination are made, these designs will remain the pinnacle, and rightly so in my opinion. But, there are still opportunities to expand the limits of strip design, these opportunities are usually away kits. There are others though, including the strip designs for Forest Pitch teams, which have been created by Scottish Primary school children. We are currently in a test production of these, and I personally can’t wait to see the real thing. If and when established clubs crumble, and new ones are created, there will be an opportunity for those clubs to create a new tradition, perhaps a tradition which takes into account the possibilities of 21st century textiles and printing.

(Many of the images on this post are from the excellent blog – – please visit it)


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