England Away Kit Review

england-away-09-12The new England away kit has a lot to live up to. Since the home design was rebooted by Umbro in 2009 questions were asked about how the red (lets face it, its not going to be anything but red these days!) away strip would match up.

Umbro whetted the appetite of the England faithful and football kit fans in general with a launch campaign heavily web-orientated with an unveiling date set for the 3rd March friendly with Egypt.  I was fortunate enough to be invited up for a sneak preview of the kit with a presentation by Aitor Throup (the conceptual brain behind the design) and David Branch – the leading designers behind England apparel. Aitor  explained at length the thinking behind the design before removing black veils from mannequins to reveal the outfits.

The kit is loosely based on the Aztec jersey – a version of which England wore in ’66 – but Aitor and David are keen to point out, this is NOT a lazy re-hash of the kit worn in England’s finest hour.

27231_339950426512_613716512_4080240_5004068_nEssentially the designers wanted to take a ‘body and movement’ approach to the kit and looked at the most common action stance a player would take during a match (generally arms bent, leaning forward) and constructed the shirt around this position before examining the results. The designers discovered that traditional seams/panels wouldn’t necessarily provide the optimum comfort/performance level required for the shirt’s use on the pitch. Therefore an angular, slightly abstract set of panels were formed that wrapped around from the back of the shirt on to the side and pulled over onto the shoulders. Unorthodox perhaps but specifically designed for the shirt in action. This curious construction is most noticeable on the long sleeved version (can’t help but think Umbro ARE leaning towards the long sleeved jerseys being the definitive version of this strip – a move that more than echoes ’66!) where the innovative panels are clearly marked across the elbows giving a ‘base layer’ feel. These panels are in three slightly different shades of red, giving a subtle but interesting effect. The neck is to all intents and purposes a crew design, but with a lower front and higher back – again designed for comfort on the pitch. Similarly the cuffs follow suite with the backs extending a good inch or so lower than the cut at the front.

Ah yes, the cuffs. The stylistic element that has caused most debate amongst football fans and I have to confess they jarred with me at first. But then, the more I looked at and examined the shirt the more sense they made. They’re different, stylish and eye-catching and now I believe that the use of this simple contrasting feature gives the design an extra unique quality.

Umbro aren’t shouting about technology in this design. The varying fabrics aren’t radically contrasting colours that scream “look, hi-tech breathable fabric!” and have led to scores of recent kits adorned with unnecessary white panels that spoil the overall integrity of a kit’s colour scheme. Of course the technology is there but this kit is all about the fit. Tailored to be comfortable and effective on the pitch.

Suprisingly, given the home kits switch to white shorts, the away’s shorts are also white. Although now the England badge and Umbro logo are rendered in red (so as not to spoil the simplicity of the red and white design) and simple vertical stripes are added to each leg. Like the cuffs the front of the shorts on the thigh is considerably higher than the back. The socks, which like the home are minus visible Umbro branding) seem to aesthetically borrow from the recent trend of taping the bottom of the socks around the ankle. It is not yet known what change shorts will be worn with the kit – very possibly the navy change pair from the home outfit.

My belief was that the shirt would be a grower and that a lukewarm initial response would increase in approval once replicas were bought and people realised what a stunning piece of clever design it really is. However, after the surprise launch of the shirt by Kasabian at a Paris gig the overall opinion of England fans has been incredibly positive. I have to agree and the more I see the shirt the more I love it. When you compare it to the previous England away you realise how dated that design now looks and illustrates how far Umbro have come with their modern tailoring approach to their kits.

After the incredible experience of having the outfit presented to me by the designers themselves (a real privilege) and analysing it in detail I can’t help but think that its an absolute classic and a perfect companion outfit for the home strip, ensuring that whether or not Capello’s squad bring home the World Cup trophy this summer, they will definitely be one of the best dressed teams in the tournament.

18 Replies to “England Away Kit Review

  1. While I would love to see England wear red/navy combo one day as I think its looks great (although I’ve only seen it once and England lost), my thoughts are that red change shorts are more likely in keeping with the 60s/retro look.

  2. As far as I can recall, red shirts with navy shorts were worn against New Zealand in 1991 and the US in 1993

  3. It looks good, but for me doesn’t have the same wow factor as the home kit. I’m pretty sure Umbro did have the ’66 shirt in mind regardless of what they say! I’m only going by photos though, really need to take a closer look at the details but for me its not that far away from the 04-06 and 06-08 away shirts – apart from the white cuffs! whats that about?

  4. While no one can doubt that it’s minimal in style, I’d rather that than overblown. The white cuffs at first jarred and seemed out of place, but the more I see the shirt, the more I like the cuffs…and that the neck is in red…had that been in white too, I feel it would have been boring, but the subtle difference between the 2 finishes I think adds an interesting twist, as does the different colours used for each panel. The all red trim on the shorts looks great too and again provides a nuance of originality in the design and shows that no detail on this hasn’t been given a great amount of thought.

    One other point to make is that I think John, your illustration makes the shirt look better than it is in the ‘flesh’ as the actual item looks a tad muted compared with the vibrant above. Guess I’ll have to see on wednesday though 🙂

  5. quite like it,anyone seen italys monstrosity of a kit? whatever happened to the most stylish football nation?

  6. I have to say the shirt looks odd on Rooney as he’s wearing a short sleeved shirt over a skin tight undershirt, so his white cuffs are miles higher than Crouch’s as he’s wearing a long sleeved shirt

  7. John b, totally agree re Italy’s kit…it’s horrendous! The neck is a mess (though worse on Uruguay’s where there’s a collar on top of it) and the robochest pattern on the front is a cartoon joke. Puma’s last few Italy kits have been their most stylish for years, but they’ve lost their way with this one.

  8. Its interesting that Andrew, Umbro specifically designed the long sleeve shirt so that it would act as a baselayer as well so I would imagine they would be a bit disappointed that Rooney didn’t go for a long sleeve. I was at the game last night with Umbro and Rooney’s choice of shirt was noticed. I think it was only two players (Crouch and Carrick?) that wore long sleeves in the end.

    John and Rich, agree with you as well on Puma’s WC kits – I’m really not sure about the collars, and that shadow pattern reminds me of Reebok’s kits for West Ham/Man City a few years back.

  9. Does anyone else think that the numbers on the chest ruin this kit?

    Come to think of it, what even is the point of having a number on the front of the shirt, and when did rules come in demanding them there?

  10. Tim, totally agree. The positioning of the number on the right instead of the middle just seemed to unbalance the whole thing. I also thought the scroll seemed too prominent due to the white background, which works fine on a white shirt but seemed too fussy on the red. Overall, however, it’s still the best away kit for a long time.

  11. I’m with you as well Tim – that was one of my first comments when I saw the kit in action. Apart from being on the left it was too close to the Umbro logo.

    The positioning of numbers on the Scotland shirt is also dubious IMO. I think thats why I liked the Welsh Kappa shirts from a few years back. With the Kappa logo only on the sleeves it left a suitable space on the chest for the number.

    If memory serves me correctly, the first time numbers appeared on the front of shirts was Euro 92.

    I’m sure someone else can confirm this?

  12. That is indeed correct John. It was also the first tournament where player names appeared on the back of the shirts.

  13. Some of the new Nike kits are spoiled by dodgy front number placements. Take the new USA jerseys, which have a diagonal sash on the front – the front numbers are placed below the badge.

    Turkey is another victim of this – the Turkish crescent and star symbol is in the middle of the chest band, like their kits from years ago, but the front number is placed on the top right, where normally a badge would go. You could argue Portugal’s away kit is spoiled too by the large white patch breaking the two front stripes just to house the number.

    Still, it’s better than having a sponsor logo on the front, which was an idea FIFA were seriously considering allowing a few years ago but decided to reject it.

  14. there shouldnt in my opinion be numbers on the front of the shirt,the numbers on shorts are enough,but then again i’d go back to 1-11 in domestic football and no names either!

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