Why Liverpool’s new kits are a triumph

by Charles Pulling

Liverpool WarriorOk, so this week Liverpool’s appointed kit manufacturer announced the club’s new third kit for the coming season. Its unveiling drew gasps of amazement. And when those gazing at it had sufficiently hauled their bottom jaws from the ground the sound of gasps was replaced by raucous laughter and sneering. It was probably quite a humiliating experience for a Liverpool fan, a bit like when your Dad makes a fool of himself drunkenly dancing at a wedding or something. I for one love the kit, and I’ll lay out the reasons why I think it’s a triumph and why its actually important for kits like this to exist.

Apart from a brief dalliance with club during the 96-98 period (coincidentally a era in which the club was graced by terrific kits) I’ve never supported Liverpool so that pain and embarrassment has somewhat tempered down my feelings on its design for me. I know for a fact that a decent amount of Liverpool fans are annoyed or even angry at what they see as an insult towards a ‘proud club…tradition..yada-yada-yada’.

And to be honest I can’t really argue with people being pissed off. The design is, to put it lightly, bold. Certainly coupled with the away kit Warrior unveiled earlier on in the close season it certainly adds weight to the theory that there maybe something in the water back at the Warrior design department. But the reason I love it and why all football fans should too has little to do whether it looks nice at all.  The fact it stands out from the crowd is more important; being aesthetically displeasing is a mere unfortunate by product.

Thirteen of the 20 clubs in the forthcoming Premier League season will have their kits made by either Adidas or Nike. And save for the top tier clubs the majority of fans will have to endure template designs rather than unique kits tailored to their clubs history and personality Sunderland’s, Stoke’s and Hull’s kits being prime examples. A situation much like the shirts of the 2004 European Championships or the current MLS.

A fair chunk of the comments I’ve seen on the kit have been vitriolic towards Warrior and its designs, a fair sprinkling of ‘We shouldda stuck wi’Adidas” or “We should bring in Nike”.  Actually that’s the last thing you should do. Ask Stoke, Sunderland and Hull supporters what they think of the fact that Adidas believes that the shirt on which their crest sits is essentially interchangeable with any other mid-table team. Its only a matter of time before the homogenisation of football shirts creeps up into the top tier of English clubs.

In fact, it can already be seen with Nike’s two newest English acquisitions – Manchester City and the England national team. Both teams were poached from Umbro at the end of a process where the global giant had gutted the Manchester based company from the inside out, and the difference in kits is palpable. Manchester Citys’ is essentially the same Umbro design with a round neck and the badge cheaply heat-pressed on rather than stitched-on as was de rigueur under Umbro. And take the England goalkeeper shirt for example, for years the product of a unique design with Umbro now demoted to a shirt design which is available for Sunday league teams through the Nike team wear catalogue. The designs are not meant to inspire pride in the jersey, or evoke memories of past glories they are simply business based steps to increase the profit margins for the company’s owners.

I hope this dosen’t sound like I have a personal vendetta against Nike or Adidas, because I don’t. In the past and currently they have made some terrific kits designs and in doing so help define an era for a club and its fans. However I do have a problem with their business model. Any economist will tell you monopolisation of a market will always lead to creative stagnation, and if Adidas and Nike were to have their way, the result would be a generic line-up of cost-saving templates for the new season, whilst all along charging increasing prices to already financially pressured fans.

Above I mentioned back when Liverpool had great kits by Adidas during the 1995/96 season. The list of kit sponsors for that year included: Asics, Umbro, Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Lotto, Puma, Pony and Le Coq Sportif. Oh and the match ball was made by Mitre. In terms of the current stranglehold  big business has on football it is unlikely we will see that sort of diversity again.

So when you see the latest Liverpool third shirt (Warrior Sports) or Aston Villa away (Macron) rather than guffaw at the outlandish designs, applaud at the stand that shirt is taking against the generic and boring that the big companies are foisting onto football fans. And Liverpool fans, be proud that your city has once again taken a stand against bullying big business.

Now if you don’t mind I’m off to get drunk, look at classicfootballshirts.com and have a cry.

12 Responses

  1. Bill says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you say and am happy we are now with Warrior, but this new third kit equates to the saying about ugly people in that they have a face only a mother could love.

    I do think Warriors designers are smoking those green funny smelling plants. and not the herbal variety.

  2. Lee says:

    The kit was made by reebok in the 96/97 season. I think you might be thinking of the last adidas kits in the 95/96 season where the home kit had the cricket jumper neck, and the away kit was green and white quartered!

  3. James says:

    The only reason Liverpool signed a deal with Warrior is because they were able to get more money from them.

    It’s not a proud stance against the big companies when this new company has offered more money!

    And the reason the designs are so outlandish is to attract more attention, no thought of club tradition (although we probably have a tradition of bad kits!) or that the players will have to wear this in football matches.

    They just want to get people talking about it on the internet, same with that #WeComeNotToPlay rubbish from last season!

  4. Charles Pulling Charles Pulling says:

    Ah I see my mistake I made, got confused though the misty-eyed haze of reminiscing about Mitre footballs, will rectify post-haste. As for the kit itself, it is a stinker in terms of aesthetics, there’s no denying that. But the fact it stands out, for better or worse, is a good thing imho. Out of curiosity if be interested in what anyone thinks makes a good kit? Does the success enjoyed whilst playing in it define it as a classic or do the looks maketh the shirt?

  5. JonS says:

    Most fans are very conservative and will buy the plain 1st kit for their club. Warrior have been creative and want to capture or excite different tastes to expand their sales.
    I love last years lfc third kit and bought the whole thing. I’m intrigued by the new 3rd kit, it’s a bold design, but it reminds me of Blackburn Rovers kits because the white shorts are a mistake.

    If they were black/purple it would be a good kit, aswell as distinctive.
    Really don’t like the away kit though.

  6. Charles Pulling Charles Pulling says:

    I’m under no illusion that money talks in terms of who makes which kit. The point is that the alternative to Warrior would have been a generic template from Nike or Adidas. Wishfull thinking on my part that Umbro et al would make a comeback but I’ll take anything I can get in terms of a bit of variety.

  7. Brett E says:

    Really? Because if you look at Sevilla’s jerseys they are they same ‘Template’ as Liverpool was last year, so don’t get all high and mighty on Warriors’ originality.

  8. Charles Pulling Charles Pulling says:

    Ok I’ll bite…who’s getting high & mighty? I think you’re missin the point.
    #FootballisSERIOUSbusiness

  9. Mark CE says:

    Liverpool supporter for nearly 40 years. I love the new 3rd kit. Won’t be buying it, mind.

  10. ODA says:

    Crap article…

    and… “Apart from a brief dalliance with club during the 96-98 period (coincidentally a era in which the club was graced by terrific kits) I’ve never supported Liverpool…”

    Brief dalliance? You expect anyone to take what you write seriously if you say that about supporting any club?

    Can we get some real football fans to write the articles please. Thanks.

  11. You sure can!

    Just do a Google for ‘Liverpool articles written by die-hard Liverpool fans’.

  12. Dave says:

    Good article. Away kits have been less successful than the home kits as they don’t really say ‘this is Liverpool FC’ and more ‘this is Warrior being a bit whacky’. But that’s not the designers at Warrior’s fault. It’s down to someone high up at Liverpool to step in and say yes or no at the design stage. At least Warrior have got people talking about their brand.
    The problem appears to be a proffessional design and branding vacuum high up at Liverpool. Their rivals Arsenal, Man Utd and Spurs in particular all have invested in having clear company branding, consistent club typefaces and core corporate colours that strengthen their brand and help the kits. Liverpool is an amateurish design free for all in comparison. Liverpool’s official website typifies their problem. Go visit it. There’s no brand consistency. It can’t even choose which red to use. There’s loads of different shades of reds and burgundy (?!!) all on the same page. Loads of different typefaces in all sorts of colours. Logos. Cheaply designed hospitality website, preseason tour websites etc etc etc It’s an amateurish mess. If the club itself doesn’t know how to brand itself properly to the world then the kit designers can hardly be blamed when they have a go!

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