Baselayer Epiphany: The Arrival of The Three, part 1

If you listen to a Football Attic podcast episode on kits from 2013, on which I featured, you’ll realise I’ve been calling for more appropriate baselayers in football for many years.

In my view – be sure to let me know if I’m wrong – a combination of obtuse, self-contradictory regulation (which varies slightly across competitions) and a general lack of imagination from manufacturers has kept them away.

A designer friend by the name of Jason Lee – of LosDejos and Fokohaela fame – puts it thus: “There isn’t the same return [as on outer football shirts] on investment to do so much on a baselayer when most wear them as hidden under layers.”

Well, things may finally be changing. Today, we’ll take a look at:

The Stripy Baselayer

So what do I mean by that? Well, it could cover quite a variety of requirements, but I’m going to stick to just two. Milan actually used to cover both of these bases, or neglect to, so let’s use their 2015-16 home kit as an example.

They wore red and black striped shirts, with red and black striped sleeves. So why did they have plain black baselayers? They should have had striped baselayers.

Plus, that kit was made by adidas, and their long-sleeved shirts had adidas stripes running to the cuffs. It surely makes complete sense for short-sleeved shirt and baselayer to accurately reflect the look of the long-sleeved shirt.

They should have had striped baselayers. Doubly.

For stripes, also, read hoops. Celtic have decided to break theirs on on the sleeves in 2018-19, but that still doesn’t justify the use of a plain white baselayer. How about a broken hoops version?

It’d break my own rule, but whilst it wouldn’t perfectly replicate the look of the current long-sleeved shirt, how about unbroken hoops on the baselayer?

But, as it happens, we have progress on this front. The first style-wise(-to-kit) baselayer style has been delivered by Puma. Not known for their stripes – rather Johan Cruyff dispensing with an adidas stripe on his originally adidas Netherlands shirts – the other German manufacturer is tentatively sorting us out.

Last summer’s World Cup saw both Yann Sommer of Switzerland and Serbia’s Vladimir Stojkovic wearing what appeared to be black baselayers with a grey stripe down each sleeve, under their short-sleeved goalkeeper shirts which were, yes, black with a grey stripe.

Since then, Milan have appeared to use the same baselayers, which are inadequate with their red-and-black-striped home sleeves. It’s even worse with their red third sleeves and Olympique de Marseille have something similar with with their away shirts.

But hope springs eternal as Cameroon players appeared to be carrying perfectly-matching green baselayers with a tonal stripe with their green-with-a-tonal-stripe outer later in a recent match against Brazil. But, then, Cameroon have form when it comes to stitching on sleeves, so I may be mistaken.

Even if I am, there are striped Puma baselayers for sure, and that’s a start. It’s certainly more authentic than Steve Mandanda wearing an adidas-striped red training shirt under his Marseille shirt.

Ironically, adidas’s stripes now seem to stop at the shoulder seam or run up the sides of the torso, suggesting a depressing concession to the plain baselayer. Thank goodness for Puma, and I seldom say that.

2 comments on “Baselayer Epiphany: The Arrival of The Three, part 1

  1. Dave

    I wonder if the lack of ‘styled’ base layer was because manufacturers and regulators felt they wouldn’t be around much. In the late 80s, there was a fashion for lycra shorts underneath football shorts. (In my memory, Everton players seemed to have a certain predilection for them – combining blue undershorts with their white shorts.) After a couple of years (maybe it was only one year), regulation was brought in to ensure the lycra under short matched the colour of the main short. Maybe the manufacturers felt this would be a passing fad, but now they’ve been around for a while, maybe now they’ll look to make more bespoke options – I wonder how much they’ll retain for!!


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