We don’t have time to go into the whys and wherefores, but trust us when we say that templates are not a bad thing.
They have been around as long as kit design itself and it’s simply not feasible for every team in the world to have its own unique style each year.
If it’s done well, it won’t matter that a template is shared by other teams, but there is a duty of care on the part of the company producing the kits.
As a way of proving this, we have gone back three years and revisited one of the most controversial templates of recent times, the Nike Vapor design. Listen to this episode of the Design Football podcast for more about the intricacies, but, basically it involved Nike putting themselves before the teams they had contracted.
Where they could get away with it, they outfitted sides in shirts and shorts of one colour, contrasted with socks in a completely different hue – from left, England, France, Netherlands, Portugal.
Barcelona and Brazil are two of their contracts who didn’t play ball, even though yellow Brazil shorts were produced. It probably didn’t matter much to Nike, though, as the Euro 2016 final featured hosts France against Portugal, the latter winning in extra time – the look is held in such esteem that they used it again in last year’s World Cup.
One of the reasons Nike gave for the innovation was to aid player visibility, but this wasn’t really a new thing – Herbert Chapman had done it with Arsenal more than eight decades previously. In any case, as Jay from Design Football says, if it was so important in 2016, why did they not bother with it in subsequent years?
However, we must say that, as a basic template, the Vapor design was a good one. The only problem was the colourways chosen – compare Inter Milan’s default yellow-socked kit with how it looked when black socks were used.
In a similar vein, we have given the four countries above makeovers, applying their more traditional schemes – real on the left, fantasy on the right.
The 1984 win over Brazil in Rio was cited as an inspiration for the England kit, but that was a mashup and this never looked like a true England kit. White, navy and red trim does, though we could probably have left off the sleeve tinting.
As they did with the French rugby team, Nike have introduced various shades of blue since taking over from adidas. It’s overkill, really, when the tricolore look is such a strong starting point.
The Dutch kit probably avoided too much criticism as their absence from Euro 2016 meant it wasn’t seen by a wider audience. Reworking the kit into a 1978/1998 tribute would have made for a classic, in our humble opinion.
Perhaps the success of this kit makes it more acceptable, but the choice of white rather than yellow for the detailing remains a blunder.
In researching this, we were alarmed to find that you have to go back a decade and a half for the last time Portugal had green home shorts, far too long a wait. The fantasy kit screams Figo and Rui Santos, and that’s no bad thing.