Last Saturday against Real Madrid, Barcelona wore a special strip which nodded to the Senyera flag of Catalonia – their fifth different shirt this season.
Unfortunately for Barça, it was not a successful outing as they fell to a 2-1 defeat, which may or may not influence how it comes to be regarded. We asked two kit experts, Jay from Design Football and Rik Keepers-Heath, for their initial takes on it.
Jay: As is common knowledge in the so-called “kit community”, FC Barcelona wore a special shirt for the defeat to Real Madrid.
In fact, they wore a whole new kit, but more on that later. The principal release is a striking combination of two notable styles from the past, with the addition of regional Catalan Senyera flag detailing – beyond the far more subtle use that has been seen on Blaugrana shirt releases since 2005.
Via the wonders of sublimation, the one-off, aptly named El Clásico design features an effect of what is generally known as “shadow striping” within both the central blue stripe and its bordering grenadine equivalents. This apes the look of the shirt worn by Johan Cruyff’s Europe-conquering 1991-92 side – which was also nodded to by the 2016-17 edition – and this take on what was originally jacquard-fueled is, via a gradient, quite ingeniously twice infiltrated by Senyera colouring.
And the second of the two historical shirts alluded to is the 2010-11 example, the yellow contrast collar of which is echoed here.
Again, this feature has already been revisited, this season no less, and the fact that the Clásico shirt is a release which doesn’t provide a clash-solving alternative – when four others this season do – has invited criticism.
Personally, I like the design. The Stadium version is perhaps a little lacking on the outer part of the trunk and the sleeves – the shadow striping apparently eschewed there to avoid clutter when combined with the player version’s Vaporknit weave – but I’m filled with envy when imagining the designer’s Eureka moment of electing to blend the Senyera’s red stripes into the iconic patterning.
And it is the Senyera that makes the shirt. It’s been, for me, the most exciting element of Barcelona change and range releases over the last decade, generally acting as a separatist Estelada in woolly clothing, and Nike and the club finally found a way to incorporate it into their famous colours against Los Blancos. Better still, the gradient having a triangular form may well be a cheeky reference to the nationalist version’s hoist end.
However, a fifth retailed outfield kit in a single season can never be beyond reproach. The shorts – plain, and in a slightly different tone of blue to home versions which would have been perfectly suitable – at €40, and slightly more tempting Senyera-banded blue socks, were both entirely unnecessary additions to the wardrobe and clear money-grabs. The loss may provide a form of justice in that regard.
At least with last season’s fourth kit, with its reference to the Senyera’s legendarily bloody beginnings, the shorts were taken from the almost identically proportioned away, and the socks were – albeit to my chagrin – not retailed. It was, also, carried over to the current campaigns in a touch of class unlikely to bless the now utterly spent Clásico model.
Rik: Barcelona have this year released a fourth shirt, a shirt that would be used just once. Yes, just once. Released for sale in January for a match three months later was somewhat of an interesting move.
The hype of the shirt, whilst has been lukewarm at best, has been “re-released” in a way that involved Club President, Joan Laporta being presented the kit. Laporta, whilst musing at the shirt, indicated that this special kit reminded him of the colours of arteries and veins of the club and their blood runs down the shirt, whilst identifying themselves as a Catalan club open to the world.
The shirt itself, whilst remaining faithful to the Blaugrana vertical stripes in similar fashion to the 2016-17 home shirt, the Senyera flag has been incorporated to include the five gold stripes in a gradual blend on the red sections from the chest down. In a move that seen to highlight the character of Barça fans together with the club’s roots in Catalonia, the shirt launched under the motto “Una samarreta ens agermana” translated to “One Shirt unites us.”
What is surprising is that given the use last year’s blood stripes of the Senyera flag kit in a multitude of cup matches this season, releasing something similar to their current shirt that it merely screams of pure marketing. The shirt is the fifth this year used by the club and one that could be forgotten, noting that the match in which the shirt was worn, Barcelona had failed to defeat their staunch rivals.
I believe, in fairness, this shirt overall is a masterstroke of design, having combined the club colours and locality in which it so openly represents is a strong statement.
Having looked at the current home shirt, I think this would have been a great replacement to be used all season long. However, for me the way the shirt was marketed and utilised is one of I am not a massive fan of. Yes, many clubs use one off shirts for a multitude of reasons, but I’m unsure as to whether or not this one quite hits the mark.