Or, how Nike and Adidas have ruined Euro 2016.
Unbelievably I’ve had requests for a round up of the shirts of Euro 2016. Well I say requests … one person has asked me. Thanks Tom (@leads), it’s nice know at least someone cares.
Normally I’ve been champing at the bit to tuck in to a feast of new designs but, to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t been impressed by much that I’d see. Nike and Adidas have ruined it. Both are guilty of producing designs that look phoned in. Not even by their good designers. The other manufactures haven’t risen to the occasion either, stand outs are few and far between.
There are a lot of teams now, 24 to be precise, meaning a minimum of 48 shirts … maybe they’re struggling for staff?
I’m struggling for a way to structure this, so I’m going to be boring and do it group by group. So first up, somewhat unsurprisingly, is group A.
Group A – Albania, France, Romania, Switzerland.
Albania have got a national football team? Who knew?! This is their first major competition, and everything. I even know one of their players. Hell, I’ve even seen him play and score a goal, live, in front of my face. That puts Erik Cana in a very select group of players at this tournament.
So what are the stereotypical minnows going to be wearing? Rather stereotypically they will be rigged out in stereotypically minnowish Macron.
I’m not going to waste to many words on this, but I can see I’m going to struggle to not use ‘meh’ in this article already.
These are fine. If you cover up the bottom half of the shirt they are perfectly acceptable, off-the-peg, Sunday league catalogue shirts. (Though I have a lot of time for their scary eagle badge, which is seemingly taken from the Albanian Quidditch World Cup side.)
The antler topped line things that adorn the bottom half are … interesting. I think I’d have preferred if they hadn’t seemingly got embarrassed about the idea, and started to fade them out towards the bottom. Stay strong Macron. Stay strong.
As ever the French seem to have found a way to force Nike to produce great shirts for them. Even when Nike (as will become all too apparent) seem determined to half arse the whole tournament.
Two teams in and it’s basically all downhill from here …
The home kit isn’t exactly inspiring. It is Nike’s stock template, painted by numbers – but tastefully so. Hardly an iconic classic.
The away shirt is also pretty much another colouring in exercise, but it’s a masterclass in how details matter. The relatively small matter of having different coloured sleeves and turning the shirt in to a massive tricolore is glorious.
Both shirts have an understated presence about them, they ooze a certain class, they have a heft to them. Mass. It’s mad that although they are solidly based on an out of the box template, they manage to convey something more than other nations shirts.
They are suitably French.
Many fans of my vintage – let’s say 30 odd – have a soft spot for Romania. They had a great team back in the 90s, memories of Gehorge Hagi strutting around sun drenched pitches at the 94 world cup in their bright yellow, aggressively Adidas shirts.
They’ve had lean years since then … but they’re at this tournament and they’re wearing …
… what sadly seems to be an Aldi Joma version of the Nike and Adidas Templates. They look cheap, rushed, and generally shoddy.
Hagi would be spinning in his grave. If he was a) dead and b) even slightly arsed about kit design.
Switzerland always seem to turn up to these things. They never embarrass themselves, they turn up, play a bit, draw a few games, lose against a bigger nation, go home without fanfare or tears.
I’m not sure I could tell you what any of their kits have looked like. Other than probably a bit like a Swiss army knife.
This time they are going to be non-descript in a couple of shirts that at least sort of try something different.
Well the white away shirt does. The home shirt is suitably non-descript. They do lay claim to having possibly the weakest excuse for a badge ever seen on a shirt. Swiss design is obviously bullshit.
The away shirt is actually quite interesting. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it good … but in the company on display at this tournament it at least tries.
Even it does look a bit like a rejected design for a Naughty Nurse outfit.
Group B – England, Russia, Slovakia, Wales
When it was first released I wasn’t a fan of either shirt.
And to be honest I’m still not bowled over. However, in the context of all the other designs it does actually stack up pretty well, but they still don’t quite get it right. Something misses the spot.
They are, at the end of the day, the exact same shirts that the French are wearing – just coloured in differently. Yet somehow they don’t reach the same level. I quite like the contrasting seams. I don’t mind the sleeves … it just doesn’t all come together in a pleasingly English way.
I have no idea what that way is, mind.
But, as I said, in the context of everything around it, these shirts have become far more acceptable. Faint praise.
You always feel that Russia will one day do something at a tournament. That could be this year.
If that something is turning up to play wearing the fabric ripped from the wall of a disgraced oligarch’s boudoir.
The Adidas Template in full flow. It’s kind of weird how close it is to Nike’s, apart from it has less interesting sleeve choices, but more stripes on the body seams.
The away shirt manages to be worse than the nouveau riche interior design of the home.
Strong work again on the scary eagle badge though. Albania must be seething.
Slovakia. Slovakia. Where do you start with a country like Slovakia?
Wikipedia. That’s where you start.
It turns out this is the one Martin Skrtel is the captain of. I know him … though I’m hoping to see a lot less of him the future. They seem to have a half decent squad on the quiet, and beat Spain on their way to finishing second in their group. Though they also lost to Belarus … so it’s one of them.
They’ll be wearing The Puma Template to the tournament.
I don’t know what it is with Puma’s insistence on displaying their shirts at a tightness on their dummies that verges on the homoerotic. It makes them look awful. They aren’t exactly world-beating designs to start with, and stretching them dead tight really doesn’t help. Especially when the shadows make it look like the bellies are actually housing a depressed Alien.
The shirts are fine, I suppose, in that Puma-y way. They’ve obviously got so many badges they’re weren’t sure which to choose, so just lashed them all on. Which seems to be a growing trend. They are quite nice badges though. Even if one does seem to be for the Slovakia Space Programme.
Our neighbours, starved of tournament football for – well, forever – have finally reached the promised land. Driven by footballing megastar, and Galtico, Joe Allen.
A momentous occasion such as this is surely worth pulling out all the stops for, producing a shirt that will be iconic for generations and generations of young Joe’s …
What the fu… really? Really?
Seriously … really?
They haven’t been even given the current Adidas Template. They’ve got one from 2008. I’m all for simplicity and elegance … but Joe Allen, that’s just bloody lazy!
The away shirt looks like a Middlesborough away shirt from anytime during the last 15 years, but with different badges.
I’m livid, and I’m not even Welsh.
Group C – Germany, Northern Ireland, Poland, Ukraine
The favourites. They’re probably going to win it, and they’re going to win it wearing these …
So even Germany get The Adidas Template. Well, let’s face it, it’s probably everyone else gets the template that came from this shirt. It’s The Adidas Template in it’s purest form, and it works well with it’s paired back, minimal simplicity.It’s black accents, simple (scary eagle) badge and round collar definitely evoke classic images of Gerd Muller. Yeah it’s a pretty good shirt.
Albeit marred by a gaudy FIFA badge.
Part of of me really likes the move of the three stripes to the body. Part of me mourns the lack of them on the shoulders. Then I remember the Wales shirt and realise the change is probably a very good thing.
So, to the the away shirt, which is the complete antithesis of the home. I’ve seen it being savaged by other shirt critics, but I have to say I kind of like it. I like the green, I like the grey marl stripes. Again, in the context of the other shirts in the tournament, I think it holds it’s head high among a sea of mediocrity. I’d buy it anyway (only dead cheap though, £10 maybe).
Our neighbours, starved of tournament football for – well, forever – have finally reached the promised land. Driven by footballing megastar and Galtico, Will Grigg.
A momentous occasion is surely worth pulling all the stops out for, producing a shirt that will be iconic for generations and generations of young Will’s …
Oh … hold on, unlike Wales these have actually turned out OK. There is actually something about them. They don’t look like off the peg phone in jobs. Well not completely. It’s amazing what a horizontal chest stripe and some well judges colouring can do.
They’re not great, but they piss all over the efforts Wales have been lumbered with. So that’s something.
Another team that always seem to be at these tournaments, being completely inoffensive. A bit like England in that respect. At least on the pitch, anyway.
Like England, they don’t have a lot to play with colours wise either. White is hard to get excited about, and it’s even tougher when applied to The Nike Template. In some ways I like it better than the England shirt. They’ve resisted the temptation to dick about with the sleeves, and the red contrast is well judged. Then they panicked about it being too boring and whacked some stupid wavy lines on the bottom.
That panic attack obvioulsy exhausted them, so for the away they just coloured in the white bits red.
And another bloody scary Eagle badge.
Back into oligarch territory.
Except this one had a penchant for tartan. Is that a Ukrainian thing?
I’m going to have to start calling this The Lesser Adidas Template. There’s not much more to say except it’s a bit mad, in a bad way, it looks dated, and is generally a bit crap. The colours are as nice as ever though.
Group D – Croatia, Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey
You don’t really need me to tell you what the Croatia kit is going to look like. You know it’s a red chequred flag, and you know it will look pretty awesome.
And you would be right. Even using The Nike Template, it looks great. They’ve gone a bit wavy this year, and it works. The number square works, the blue accent really works, it all just works. I think the squares force the designers to think a bit more about what they’re doing and it nearly always results in a great shirt.
The away shirt is a bit lazy, but I can forgive them that.
These are the ones that Martin Skrtel isn’t captain of. I know I really shouldn’t get them mixed up, but I do.
It is mad that they basically have the same kit though. The white away is basically the same shirt as Slovakia’s home, but with less badges. Obviously.
The Puma Template is again stretched so tight that it’s hard to remain objective. Maybe the shirts are actually made out of the same material as Batman’s costume? The home shirt does have an air of superhero about it. Which isn’t something you want said about a football shirt, if I’m being honest.
Nice simple badges again though.
The Spanish shirts tend to be pretty good, they’ve had some pretty solid effort over the decades. Their traditional red, blue and yellow colourways tend to work well.
OK, I know it’s difficult, but let’s try to ignore the away shirt for now.
The home is yet another classic example of The Adidas Template, not a particularly good one either. The yellow stripes are OK, but there isn’t enough blue, there’s a daft pattern in the weave, and the collar is completely forgotten about. It’s just a bit nondescript.
Which, of course, cannot be said about the way shirt.
I’m not sure where to begin. OK we’ll star with the bloody template again, except you can’t really see it – because something has clearly happened here.
I have a theory.
It’s like the design team had this great vision of using polygons for the home shirt, that they thought it would look great covered in pastely orange a red triangles that burst all over the shirt. They got half way through, then they team got fired for having original thoughts. A second team came in to finish the job, bottled colouring the rest in and thought “sod it, we’ll just use it as the away and do a dead safe home shirt”.
I want that original team’s vision. A whole shirt of polygons could have been amazing, 1988 Holland amazing. Instead they’ve got this mad, half finished thing that doesn’t quite work and just looks a bit weird.
The biggest shame of the tournament.
While we’re on a bit of a mad theme.
I’m not sure who looked at The Nike Template shirts and thought “what this boring arse template needs is more fishing net”.
Just no. I quite like the colours of the away shirt … but no. Really, no.
Group E – Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Sweden
A strong group this, and the mainstream hipster’s choice have got their work cut out for them. But they’re going to look pretty sharp while doing it.
OK, that home shirt looks awful in that photo. It really needs to be seen on to do it justice.
It makes a massive difference. The colours blocks make more sense, it looks more flag-y, it makes a great job of The Adidas Template. It’s amazing how loosely they can use it when they can be arsed to put some effort in.
The away is pretty solid too. Taking inspiration from classic cycling jerseys – which is no bad thing. That’s a great blue and the horizontal flag stripes are a winner in my book. Having said that, I think this does fall just a bit short of the mark for some reason. The ideas are great, but the execution feels a bit off. Possibly that’s Template related … I don’t know, but a good effort all round.
Another team with a grand history of classic designs.
I’m not convinced Puma are the right choice for Italy. They need subtle sophistication, and that’s not something Puma deal in. Puma designs are brash, bold, almost aggressive. The Puma Template is too much of a blunt instrument, there’s no finesse. Sometimes that can be quite interesting … but not here, not on a shirt for The Azzuri. They’re left with a pretty awful blue kit, with awkward panels and a rubbish pinstripes.
The away shirt, if anything, is possibly worse. I quite like a centre stripe, but this one is too weak. The collar looks completely out of place, as does the blue on the shoulder.
They’re both a bit of a car crash – which is a real shame. Italy really deserve more.
On a side note, what the hell have the Italian FA done to their badge? It looks like a logo for a bad petrol station …
Republic of Ireland
Ah, Umbro, they can save us …
Ah, perhaps not.
The home shirt looks like a retro remake of a design from 1997. Not bad, just hideously out of step with all going on around it.
The away shirt just doesn’t work at all. The stripes just look like an awkward afterthought.
And why do Ireland insist on having a bloody sponsor they can never actually use?
Such a shame. Umbro were genuinely groundbreaking at the turn of decade, but since being dropped by Nike they seems to have completely lost their way. Which is a massive shame.
At this point I should really just have The Adidas/Puma/Nike Template in place, delete as appropriate, and start writing criticism afterward.
The home is fine. What you’d expect from a Swedish home shirt on The Adidas Template. I like the shiny horizontal weave stripes.
The away shirt was obviously done by the same team responsible for the Germany away shirt. And possibly the team that were halfway through the Spain shirt before being fired for having original thoughts. I quite like it, I like the casual cotton look of the fabric. The colours are kind of interesting too. I’m not sure I’d want to buy it, but I like that it exisits – if that makes sense.
Group F – Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Portugal
Not a group to get you blood pumping this one. Austria kind of epitomize that in their The Puma Template shirts.
Having said that the white away one works quite well, in the same way the German home kit does. Just dead simple black and white with a scary eagle badge. Seriously what is it with scary Eagle badges?
I’m finding it hard to summon the strength to write anything interesting about the red one. The various stripes make my eyes go funny.
It would have only been an educated guess as to what colour Hungary even play in. Most of the footage I’ve seen of them playing is in black and white. They used to be dead good, apparently.
They’ve been allocated The Other Adidas Template. The one that Wales got, the one that reminds me of Middlesborough.
That badge look suspiciously photoshopped too.
Basically I think these are coming straight from the Sunday league catalogue.
There really are a lot of smaller teams in this group.
At least Iceland have seen fit to turn up in an appropriate, charmingly naive uniform.
I think it’s the combination of the Icelandic FA’s badge with the off centre vertical stripe that gives it in an early 80s North American Soccer League vibe. Or the kind of shirt you’d see in a cartoon. I quite like it because of that, it’s quite honest. Not very accomplished, but at least it not a sodding Template.
So we arrive at our final team. Obviously that means The Nike Template.
Possibly the most Templatey of them all too. The home shirt is hard to pick holes in. It does what you’d expect from a Portugal shirt – dark red, with green accents.
The away shirt is a horrendous shade of green. The sleeves are OK, but that main body panel is horrid. I don’t know what word you use to describe it – radioactive phlegm?
Both shirts also feature that odd pattern in the weave Nike like to throw in, which you see here being expertly woven by an android given the designation CR7.
It’s almost like it’s a real human. Almost.
My conclusion is that this is a tournament is a bit of a disaster in the kit department.
For what seems like the 27th consecutive tournament those suave french bastards have probably the best shirt with their away effort. Both Belgian shirts are solid, Croatia’s is as classic as it gets, Germany’s are fine, but when I can seriously consider England’s efforts as some of the best of the tournament, you know something has gone wrong.
The tournament is marred by lazy, template based designs, dominated by the big two manufacturers of Nike and Adidas. Very few shirts seem to be very well considered, or have had time spent on small details. They’re all painted with large brushes for the mass market. It’s hard to see many, if any at all, being held in high regard in 20 years time by 30 year old saddos like me.
I feel sorry for Welsh fans and their really poor effort. I feel even worse for the mess Italy seem to find themselves in, perhaps worse still for the numerous Italian manufacturers who should have that gig. You expect the smaller nations to have less interesting kits, but when you see the majority of teams essentially wearing the same three shirts it’s not that fun.
That’s all gotten a bit depressing. Hopefully the football will be a bit more enjoyable.