There was a heavy air of anticipation for this year’s Arsenal kits amongst fans and kit nerds alike. For the first time in 25 years the fabled three stripes of adidas have returned to the Gunners strip after a rather underwhelming five seasons with adidas’ rivals Puma.
Adidas haven’t disappointed…they’ve played to the gallery and have kitted Unai Emery’s team out in three outfits that tick almost all the boxes and easily satisfy expectations.
The home nods towards the club’s adidas-produced 1986–88 kit with a wrapover v-neck, multi-trimmed in red and dark navy (although one source claims this is black?), and simple white sleeves. The cuffs follow the same design as the neck but are broken under the arms with panels of breathable fabric. The shorts are standard adidas fare, although interestingly the three-stripe trim on the players’ versions stops short of the waistband and hem whereas the versions offered for sale on the club site feature more familiar full length stripes. White socks with a sequence of additional hoops midway down the calf (a popular design this season I note) complete the design.
It’s a solid and smart looking strip – unmistakably Arsenal with the adidas brand kept in its place, beneath that of the club’s identity. My only criticisms is that that multi-trimmed neck and cuffs feel a little forced (perhaps it’s the addition of the third collar which I feel is outdated?) and I always prefer seeing the Gunners in red, not white socks at home. But those minor quibbles aside, it’s a fine outfit.
I would have bet my life that given the penchant for all things retro in the kitworld, adidas’ first Arsenal away strip of this new era would pay homage to the famous ‘bruised banana’ outfit!
I love this kit though because although at a glance memories of that beloved (although at the time it was loathed) yellow and navy combination that was worn between 1991–93 come flooding back, in actual fact the design is quite different and stands up very well on its own. A repeated zig-zag pattern of grainy colour adorn the fabric and a simple navy crew finds favour over a copy of the home strip’s neck design. I’m not a huge lover of the nostalgic retro trend where previous designs and plundered for inspiration, but this does it exceedingly well and is hugely popular with the club’s supporters. The shorts and socks mirror the designs of the home strip.
The third kit opts for navy as the main colour, forsaking the patterns of the away and preferring a simple solid palette. A crew neck simply trimmed with a yellow band is joined by similar detailing on the cuffs alongside the breathable underarm fabric panels. But here’s where things get a little curious – the neck and cuffs featured black as an additional colour; a theme that continues with the kit’s black shorts. At the risk of appearing old fashioned, this just doesn’t work in my view and feels an unnecessary touch in what otherwise would have been a good, functional kit. Judging by a few other Adidas designs, this appears to be a recurring concept, namely pairing two colours that are incredibly similar in tonal value (and to all intents and purposes, clash) within the same kit. Kudos for trying something new in kit palette creation, but this third strip would have worked far better in my opinion with standard navy shorts.
So, as a cohesive set, these three Arsenal strips really do the job. If there was an award for the best set of kits of the year (and if there’s not, there should be…now there’s an idea!) these would be strong candidates.