England Home Kit 2010 Review

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.

23 Replies to “England Home Kit 2010 Review

  1. While I appreciate thought that goes into the design of kits, I just feel the graphic panel has come at the wrong time…maybe if we’d had a great world cup it would be tolerable, but coming after a tournament where we looked foolish, this just seems like an unnecessary addition that leaves us open to further mockery (not that anyone could have envisaged this when it was conceived). I’m all for having shirts with a message and I do indeed love the particular message Peter Saville is trying to convey…it just doesn’t work for me given where the team is right now. Bizarrely enough, the more I look at it, the more I like the design (though I’m still not convinced about the royal blue), but in the context of recent events, does it work?

    That said, if we storm through the qualifiers (and then not freeze in the Euros themselves!), maybe the cloud it arrived under will be forgotten?

    Great illustration as usual John 🙂

  2. Love the shorts, love the socks (I wasn’t convinced by the shade of blue in the publicity photos, but it looks much better in action) – but no, I’m not convinced by that panel. Any further away than the close-up you’ve got above, and they just look like ridiculous multi-coloured dots. And I’m not keen on the neck, either.

    Also, the goalkeeper kit is utterly wretched – although I say that as a hard-liner who believes that England goalie shirts should only ever, ever be yellow (home) or sky blue (away).

  3. The 1966 home kit had red numbers John, and I feel (not sure if I’m actually allowed an opinion being Irish!) that England home shirts should always have red numbers

  4. Rich, Seb you do make good points about the Saville panel. It really is a “love it/hate it” kind of thing and I fully take your views about the timing – and to be honest, thats been the problem as far as I can see with this kit – the timing. I wondered at one point if perhaps Umbro might have had 2 kits lined up, one if England won the WC and one if they lost! But of course, you know, they couldn’t predict how the team would do and have to continue marketing the kit thats already been designed and scheduled for release despite that.

    Denis, you’re right about the numbers but I was thinking more in terms of red being an actual part of the kit design itself. Take Newcastle for example, I wouldn’t say red was part of their kit but for most of the 80s they wore red numbers if my memory serves me correctly. My comment was mainly in answer to people that are calling for England to play in white shirts and red shorts! I think a blue Umbro logo would have been good, but perhaps red numbers/names.

  5. I personally am not a great fan of red on the England home kit (with perhaps the exception of the names and numbers). Most of my favourite England kits have been plain white n navy affairs (86, 2000) and too often the red has been used to add gimmicky flashes to the shirts. I like that the Umbro logo matches the rest of the shirt this time round though I too think perhaps red may have worked for the names / numbers and provided some relief from the blue.

    In terms of the timimg and the potential for ridicule…that neckline…yes I get all the stuff about movement, but all I can picture is someone from the turn of the century in their nightwear…or worse, Steptoe in some rather grubby underwear…

  6. The royal blue shorts and trim on the shirt/sock I can live with, but agree the back should have red numbers/letters. The Saville panel really doesn’t work for me in any context – diversity of cultures?? I am assuming each colour was chosen in order to be representative of something but for the life of me I cannot see what. Purple? Pink? Or is it the overall ‘conception’ that the multiple colours represent a variety? Sorry but it just all seems just a bit pretencious to me.

  7. right,the basics for an England home kit are simple-
    1-white/navy/white combination
    2-red numbers
    3-each kit to last 2 years!
    4-no pink/yellow/green etc george crosses!

    not hard is it…awful kit by the way!

  8. I am another who would like to see red names and numbers on the kit, especially as that would be even more similar to the admiral kits. Though I wonder if that’s why umbro avoided the red. On the issue of the release date and lifespan I hope that this shirt does see a major tournament finals and isn’t replaced before Euro 2012 (assuming we qualify) if it isn’t replaced I don’t have a problem with replacing the “tainted” world cup home kit, especially with a kit this good.

  9. The problem I have with Peter Saville’s panel is the fact that once a St George’s stops being red, it stops being a St George’s cross! I am bitterly disappointed that the best ever England shirt had such a short life span.

  10. I think it’s stunning!

    I was taken completley unaware by the new kit, and I didn’t think it was really possible to improve on the previous England home kit, but they have pulled it off. It has to be said, Umbro are making the best kits around at the moment.

    I think there should be some flexability as far as colours go. I can’t be the only one who found the kits from 2002 onwards to be boring and predictable, and switching the colours around from the usual white-navy-white helps. I mean, it’s not like they have suddenly introduced yellow or orange. Royal blue was used in the 80’s.

    I don’t quite understand the “should have red numbers” thing. In my opinion, it just would have jarred with the rest of the kit. It’s simple and classy, I loves it.

    On the other hand, the goalkeeper kit just doesn’t work. I love black kits, and adding a purple trim was a good idea, but the design is just all wrong. It looks cheap.

    So, does this mean September is going to be the new release date for England kits? Are we going to be getting the new away kit in September 2011, instead of March 2012?

  11. ‘Fraid it does nothing for me. I criticised the last England shirt for looking like a Rugby Union shirt. At least Union is a British sport whereas we now appear to be wearing Baseball shirts.

    That aside I think Umbro have made some of the best club kits over the last thirty years – certainly their tenure at my beloved LUFC saw some of Leeds’ best kits – but with England I think they try too hard to do something different and get it wrong more often then right, drastically so in this case.

    Sorry i’m a simple being and I just don’t get it.

  12. I’ve got to admit it has grown on me, although it still falls short of the last kit. Nice to see the return of the blue shorts and I suppose it still retains the retro feel.

    I can see the method in the FA’s madness of bringing the kit out now after such a poor World Cup and with a reduced income stream along with Umbro seeming to be the only major sponsor. I just hope the FA don’t insult our intelligence and bring out a new home shirt before Euro 2012 Finals.

    As for the Peter Saville touch it reminds of the New Order single sleeve for Fine Time. Happy memories !!!

  13. now that my fav band new order are no more a peter saville desighed england shirt is a nice nod to the heady summer days of 1990……..(now if only coca-cola would re-release their itala 90 style mini-footballs -they were so cool!).but shame on the fa for letting the media compleatey missing that point due to the quickness of the release so soon after a poor world cup! nice kit but totally let down by poor gk kit.

  14. Initially I was dissapointed with the lighter shade of blue rather than navy and the lack of red numbers, but the colour scheme has grown on me. Matching the shorts and numbers with the colours of the three lions gives the kit a pleasing visual simplicity. The home kit is now the colours of the England badge, the away kit is the colours of the English flag.

    Its the close up detail that I don’t like. The only thing about the last home shirt that bothered me was the collar – I just don’t like them on football shirts. I prefer a cleaner, more streamlined look.

    But as Rich says above, the long collar makes this one look like nightwear and it would go well with some white longjohns. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have used a simple v or round neck.

    As for the multicoloured panel on the back, my first thought was that it was inspired by one of Elvis’ stage outfits. The explanation, that changing the colour of our flag to represent diversity, is misguided. The Cross of St George is a symbol of inclusiveness – at Wembley I see people of all colours happily wrapping themselves in it – and to make it multicoloured to represent this misses the whole point of a flag as a unifying symbol.

    As to the timing, could this release date be a permament thing ? The release of the away kit has always been logically timed for the run up to tournaments, but the home kit has come out stranded in the middle of a campaign. It makes sense to keep this change over date at the start of a new campaign.

  15. Daniel – that fourth paragraph of yours expresses my feelings exactly – even down to the Elvis comparison. Aloha From Wembley?

    The fact that we have players of all skin colours shows how diverse we are as a nation without need for a gimicky motif. We go one further than most great footballing nations by including not only black, white and mixed race players in our team, but some who do not even have a basic aptitude for the sport of football. If that’s not inclusive, what is?

  16. I like the shirt, and given the throwback nature of the kit it’s replacing, I don’t mind a contemporary addition of the graphic panel. It’s not like it’s highly visible during games.

    What I don’t like is the shade of blue used on the shorts and sock bands, it isn’t England to me, pair the shirt with navy shorts and sock trim and I like the full kit.

  17. The shirt is great, the collar looks fantastic (a grandad/baseball type thing) and the shade of blue is a really nice one. This would be perfect except for one thing – The multicoloured crosses on the shoulders, as has been remarked before, are not saint Georges crosses. It looks not like a symbol of a multicultural nation, but of a design flaw. Its not something I see catching on, can you really see Brazil coming out in a shirt with rainbow coloured Southern crosses all over the shoulders? I think not.

    Apart from that detail, this is a very good kit.

  18. I like the shirt except for that annoying panel, which for me spoils an otherwise nice shirt. I like the royal blue shorts, however, I won’t be purchasing the shirt because of that panel.

    Brilliant graphic of the shirt aswell.

  19. Being a traditionalist i agree with the comments that there is a certain criteria for an England home shirt.It must be white with red numbers and the shorts navy blue.A matter of time before the badge is altered and then the icon is gone ? Vary the away shirts but uphold the tradition of the home one ?
    No one listens to the fans though, do they ?

  20. Think it’s the nicest England kit since Euro 96.

    The blue is truley amazing and love that the number are in that shade too.

    Well done Umbro

  21. to be perfectly honest im divided about it
    i liked having red on the kit i thort it was very patriotic and i think if your not ging to have it on the shirts (as in tradition)
    at least have red numbers
    as for shorts they should be blue but i have thort the white shorts have suited some of the preveous designs better
    but on classic styling like this the blue actualy works (probly cos it isnt the navy blue)
    as for the diversity logos i think their a pile of crap
    we show our diversity on the field
    and lets face it some people dont want reminding of that fact (i know a few people who dont think their country is their own anymore) im not being racist im just saying we dont need reminding and at times like that and especialy after our dismal world cup you would have thort they would have come up with somthing more patriotic to fire us up
    and this just isnt it im afraid
    looks nice from a distance
    classic yet inspid and it dosnt need to be (wrong timing)now you see why im devided


  22. I’m rather late commenting on this but my two penneth is as follows:

    I prefer red numbers and names rather than blue.
    I actually don’t mind the shade of blue as I remember the late 70s/early 80s Admiral kits which used a lighter blue for shorts and trim

    The shirt is qute a nice design but the shirt it has replaced is probably my favourite England shirt since the plain white one worn from 1966 to about 1974.

    I actually liked the white shorts with the previous design but I appreciate that it is not as traditional as blue.

    On the whole, not a bad kit but I’m dissapointed that they’ve binned such a classic as the last one so quickly.

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