As we say in last year’s article on English clubs with red-and-white-striped adidas shirts over the past decade (link on the right), it can be difficult for manufacturers to make things fresh every season.
Given that Internazionale have been with Nike since 1998 – and have had Pirelli as a sponsor since 1995 – there is a need for different directions to ensure that people want to buy the shirts. They have of course have had some real classics – such as the 1998-99 set – but recent times have seen changes.
Last year, for instance, they had a diagonal section on the midriff of the shirt – incidentally, two other clubs heavily associated with stripes, Barcelona and Juventus, also mixed it up for 2019-20.
After such a deviation, you would expect that the next home kit would be a return to something conventional, but instead Inter have mixed things up even more. A decade ago, after their most recent Champions League win, Inter’s shirt featured a zig-zag effect intended to reference the Biscione, a serpent associated with Milan – it also appears on the Alfa Romeo insignia – but the overall effect was still stripes. This time, though, the zig-zag has far more clarity.
Scott Munson, Nike Football Apparel vice-president, acknowledged how they were looking to push the envelope in terms of dealing with stripes and also the influence of the Biscione:
We continue our pursuit of challenging the club’s traditional striped identity, this time drawing inspiration from one of Milan’s most important design movements. The zig-zag graphic is a staple of post-modernist design and is also reminiscent of the slithering Biscione. The result is a radically unexpected home kit.
The blue socks, rather than a primarily black set, add to the unconventionality and, while the pattern isn’t officially their doing, one could argue that Pirelli are benefiting from some guerilla marketing, given that it resembles a tyre-tread.
Similarly, the designer may not have had Peter Shilton in their thoughts in the concept stage, but there’s also more than a passing resemblance to the England goalkeeper kit worn from March-October 1989 – though that had gradated striping.
Kudos to Richard Aspden for reading our minds, though!