Everton 2010-11 Kits

Posted by John Devlin

everton-h-10-11It has to be said that under Umbro Everton’s kits were beginning to stagnate somewhat. Since Le Coq Sportif arrived back at Goodison last season they have breathed new life into the club’s kits. Last year’s early 80s ‘homage’ I felt was a little over-egged, but this year LCS have really revamped Everton’s kitbag. The new home shirt is all blue with no outward contrasting trim at all (save of course badges, logos etc). The chest features a curved panel of breathable fabric framed by reverse stitching. The shorts are plain white and the socks minimalist in design, featuring only the EFC monogram and LCS logo. Its a simple, uncluttered strip but full of class.

everton-a-10-11The away (which incidentally was launched before the home) more than ruffled a few feathers on its unveiling. Yes, its pink and not the subtle salmon pink colour Everton have been associated with in the past, but bright, fluorescent PINK! The colour featured as trim on last year’s all black outfit but this  time takes centre stage with a bang. The design of the kit is the same as the home, but with the chest panel now picked out in navy and with additional pink trim on the shorts (only visible on the back). Pink change shorts and socks will also be worn with the shirt this season if necessary. Its certainly a bold design with a colour that challenges what some consider to still be a homophobic element to football fans. No doubt though it will be popular with Goodison’s female clientele if the popularity and sales amongst ladies of the clubs recent two pink breast cancer charity shirts are anything to go by. I think the strip is very brave and despite my initial reservations I’m beginning to like it.

everton-3-10-11On to the third….which has to be one of my favourite shirts of 2010-11 – notice I said shirts and not kits. More of that in a moment. The jersey, which makes more than a passing reference to the highly successful England home kit of 2009-10 (blended with the England retro commemorative rugby kit worn earlier this year) is just pure class and as Everton’s marketing claims is “rich in heritage, modern in design”. The off-white/cream/vanilla (delete as appropriate) shirt is simply stunning and is paired with navy shorts and nice retro hooped socks. Ah yes, the shorts. Maybe I’m being picky but to my mind its the shorts that let down this otherwise superb outfit. For some reason LCS have used a design with a curved contrasting panel on each side that joins up on the back rather than a simple, plain, all navy pair. Apart from the fact that this kit doesn’t seem to fit as a set of strips with the home and away, it jars with me that the fine retro shirt and socks are joined by a very contemporary and alien design of shorts that, to be honest, would look far more at home with the home or away outfits. It just seems strange and I wonder if LCS deliberately made these third shorts very different simply to distinguish them from the away kit’s navy pair? Its a shame and partly sabotages what otherwise would be, for me, a strong contender for kit of the season.


Blackburn Rovers 2010-11 Kits

Posted by John Devlin

blackburn-h-10-11Blackburn’s new home kit (the first to be ‘tailored by Umbro’) reverts to a more straightforward interpretation of their familiar halved shirts. Except for contrasting fabric across the top of the shoulders there’s nothing to distract from one of the most iconic strips in English football – not even red trim which can often be found lurking somewhereon a Rovers kit. The shirt is accompanied by standard Umbro shorts and an interesting sock design with a multi-hooped turnover.

blackburn-a-10-11At first inspection the away is another fairly ordinary design in that good old Blackburn change colourway of red and black but I found the more you look at it the more classy it appears. There’s a neat black trim down each sleeve (will we ever see the famous diamond trim return to Umbro kits for a last hurrah?) and curved black panels under each arm and along the side of the shirt which is formed from a similar template to that worn by the Wales national side. The shorts feature a broader side trim to marry up with the shirt panels.


England Home Kit 2010 Review

Posted by John Devlin

england-home-10-11The New Fabric of England

Well that was a surprise wasn’t it? Compared to the high profile launches of England’s previous few kits, the new England home outfit hit the pubic in a decidedly low-key fashion. Perhaps its understandable as the English public don’t exactly hold the England team in high esteem at the moment after the World Cup debacle. What is surprising is the vicious, angry and negative response the kit design has received so far. Many comments about the design are being tainted by the fact that a new kit is being launched a) so soon after the poor World Cup and b) not two full years since the last home strip. Plus, of course, frustrations with the players and Capello are also tainting the opinions of the kits.

I want to concentrate on the design, but I must just comment on the other negative issues surrounding the new strip. As readers of True Colours will know I am the firm opinion that any kit should last two years or two seasons. Unfortunately that is not the way the football world works at the moment. Also, like many, I was under the impression that the previous World Cup home kit would last until 2011. Again, it seems that in international football kit lifespans are becoming more flexible and are liable to change.

Basically, the new England kit was always going to be launched in time for the Euro qualifiers. A fresh start – new team, new tournament and new kit. The fact that England failed in the World Cup is not Umbro’s fault and shouldn’t influence opinions on the design of the new kit. So, on to the new outfit..is it any good? In a word, YES!

And that’s whats so frustrating about the whole affair – the kit is an absolute cracker. I defy anyone seeing it in action for the first time during the England vs Bulgaria game to come out and say its not a good design. It looks great, it screams ‘England’ and is totally fit for purpose. Good to see blue shorts returning and interesting to note the brave move back to the more ‘royal’ shade of blue worn in the 70s and early 80s, along with clean and simple socks. On to the shirt.

Naturally it features Umbro’s tailored approach with comfortable/functional fabric and superb fit. The most striking feature is the neckline. On first glance it reminded me of a rugby shirt with the long plunging neck design but after seeing the shirt in the flesh, with its curved collar it actually resembles more of a 1920s jersey. The thinking behind the long neckline is that it allows for greater movement in the garment across the chest.

The recent red Umbro logo is notable by its absence and therefore the kit is completely bereft of the colour – its just white and blue. Again, this has caused a murmurings among many England fans. Sure, its a colour in the English flag, but plain white and blue is actually a design aesthetic that has been in England kits for decades. Its only recently that red has become a key part of the nation’s strips, but look at the 1966 home kit that all England fans are keen to claim as the ultimate England outfit – there was no red in the kit there. Plus, imagine the horrors if all international shirts simply resembled the nation’s flags! It was felt having a red Umbro logo caused the design to look unbalanced. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly and has repercussions – especially when you consider Umbro’s recent rebranding and its intrinsic links with the England kit.

The rest of the shirt design, at a glance, is just plain white (cue criticism “its just like the old shirt”) but to my mind this maintains the workmanlike ethic that Umbro imbibe into all their kits. Not designed just to look flash, they are there to do a job. Once again the jersey is constructed from two different fabrics and includes the already infamous Peter Saville panel on the back and shoulders.

england-shirtNow, first I must say I’m biased here. As a graphic designer Peter Saville is a big hero of mine and I love the thought and consideration he puts into every piece of work that bears his name. His contribution to the England shirt is definitely coming from a graphic perspective rather than fashion. The panel features miniature “St George’s Cross” motifs in a variety of colours including red, blue, green and pink. The crosses represent England as a modern nation with a diversity of cultures. The panel is designed to make the shirt inclusive. He clearly sees it as representing a true picture of the country.

Whether you think “the new fabric of England” graphic panel is nonsense or not is up to you. In my view its just good to see thought and meaning go into a shirt. Everyone knows how recently football kits have exceeeded their original mandate as simply a uniform on the pitch and this kit just continues that growth. Is it such a faux pas to put a message of some kind into a football shirt? Or should a footbal shirt just be lairy combinations of white flashes and coloured panels?

The kit will accompany England as they rebuild their confidence, status and credibility after South Africa and it will be interesting to see if Peter Saville’s vision of inclusivity will reunite the country’s football fans and football team once more.


Around the Grounds – 25% Discount

Posted by John Devlin

ATGCoverwebYou may have read my recent post reviewing the superb new football book ‘Around the Grounds’ by Chris Nelson to which I contributed a chapter on football kits.

Well, I’ve just been contacted by Footprint Handbooks who published the book and they’ve been good enough to offer an amazing 25% discount to any True Colours visitors who order the book online via their site.

All you have to do is visit:
http://www.footprinttravelguides.com/c/8951/football/&Action=product&Product_Reference=ATGR01

To claim the discount, enter “footie” in the coupon code box at checkout.


Around The Grounds – new book review

Posted by John Devlin

ATGCoverwebAround The Grounds by Chris Nelson is a new book just published by Footprint.

Its the essential fan’s guide to the clubs of the English Football League and contains all the essentials from pre-match pints and pies to rituals and histories, all brought to life with stunning photography.

Whether you’re an armchair expert, or a firm fixture on the terraces, Around The Grounds is your pass through the gates, hearts and minds of the 92 clubs of the English Football league. Broken down by club, the story of each hallowed ground is told, celebrating the victories and commiserating the losses both on and off the pitch, taking in the defining moments as well as the legendary characters that helped to fix each club in the hearts of their supporters.

Combined with essential facts, stats and little-known nuggets of information, and illustrated throughout with full colour photography, this book gives a unique insight into the life and personality of each team and those who support them.

This book combines contemporary design, knowledgeable and passionate writing, classic images from past and present plus an illustrated chapter I’ve contributed on how football kits have come of age.

The whole book is a highly entertaining read that really gives an insight into what makes other teams and their supporters tick. I must admit I struggle to put it down once I pick it up!

To have a virtual flick through some of the pages online click here.

To order it from Amazon click here.


Chelsea 2010-11 Kits

Posted by John Devlin

CHELSEA-H-10-11Now firmly settled into a system of three new kits every year, the new Chelsea home strip at first glance doesn’t feel like much of a progression from their last. There is now a contrasting white V-neck along with a subtle shadow-like two-tone design across the front of the jersey. This pretty average kit is given a splash of interest by the liberal dose of red trim throughout, most notably on the V-neck. Its the first time since their 93-95 kit that the colour has appeared on a Chelsea strip although it was commonplace throughout the eighties.

CHELSEA-A-10-11Once again adidas have launched a pair of complementary change kits in challenging and innovative colourways. The new away is black and orange with an interesting striped design across the front of the shirt that on closer inspection is made up of tiny chevrons of various intensity. As with many of adidas’ Chelsea kits the badge is coloured up to match the kit.

CHELSEA-3-10-11The completely unnecessary third kit reverts to a fluorescent style colour scheme comprising of ‘macaw’ green and navy. A faded bar of navy along with Chelsea’s regular blue shade runs vertically down the shirt. As is often the case with adidas, the away kits are interesting designs, let down only due to the fact that they don’t reflect the heritage of the club in any way.


New England home kit

Posted by John Devlin

Full review and analysis of the new England home kit and the controversy surrounding it coming soon…

In the meantime there is a good little feature on the kit on the BBC site:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11176405