By Jay from Design Football
We’re now well into the third season of adidas, the brand with the three stripes, supplying Celtic’s kits.
Celtic famously equalled the consecutive Scottish national league championships record with their 2019–20 Scottish Premiership triumph. That record stands at nine, which is the number of outfield kits the aforementioned German kit supplier has provided Celtic so far.
So, this moment couldn’t be more adidas x Celtic, is the point I’m labouring. And it’s a perfect time for a mini-appraisal of what’s been supplied so far. The good, the bad and the Love Street.
Starting with 2020-21, adidas’s first three kits for the Celts were supposed to be worn in a record-breaking season, with adidas’s Jock Stein-quoting “Not For Second Best” tagline ageing very poorly.
As it was, a simple first-choice design, seeing yellow deployed as a tertiary colour – not necessarily at the behest of sponsor Dafabet but palettes certainly aligned – was met with relief if not raptures. The striping on the shoulder was hoop-ily placed and not a lot more can be asked for.
The change releases provoked more excitement. Taking an idea oft-seen in leisure and training ranges – particularly expertly by Nike – the black third, which was based on the much-used Condivo 20 template (forever to remind us of the pandemic), featured the famous four-leaf clover as crest, in mint green. It worked, beautifully, and the restrained inclusion of minimal white trim finished it off nicely, despite it being MIA on the shorts and socks.
Impressively, many didn’t even consider the third the pick of the bunch. The away, aping the kit from a certain St Mirren Park – or “Love Street” – win that gave Celtic an unlikely title triumph in 1986, was very popular, though I couldn’t personally see past the use of green instead of black for the adidas chest logo and the sponsor(s).
The 2021-22 season should, most likely, have seen at least one commemorative shirt, celebrating the tenth consecutive title. It wasn’t to be, but based on how far in advance football kits are generally finalised before being put into production, there may well be a home sample or prototype that emerges. Ten hoops, perhaps? One more than appeared on the doubly commemorative 2012-13 release.
No, instead, the old trick of switching the positions of the hoops was put into action, so the adidas logo appeared in black on white this time, and the crest’s contrast improved slightly. Dafabet’s encircled D now matched the star – in honour of the club’s European Cup win – and only the star, on a shirt that largely kept to the green and white, but the crew neck remained and the trimming of the hoops didn’t save the release from being not much more than a prefiguring of Sporting’s recent transition.
The away carried over the crest from the previous season’s third, this time as part of a pseudo-roundel thanks to a tonal Celtic-knot surround, and that and other embellishment appeared in a light gold, bringing life to the green base. Classy. It even had, as alternatives to the green versions, gold change shorts and socks.
adidas’s first real departure from a Celtic look took the form of a white shirt with pink-and-green pinstripes and a jarringly low, centrally placed crest. For me, a refreshing jolt to remind us that adidas can go beyond what Celts would expect, but also aligning with much of the club shop merchandise aimed at girls.
Alas, a home kit of green-and-white-hooped shirt, white shorts and white socks, an all-green away and an all-white third were not enough to offer a clash with the ever-problematic Hibernian. The upshot was the carrying over of 2020-21’s black third – adding more value to a lovely design.
And so we find ourselves in the present. Silver has been added to the home – the first time adidas’s stripes have been neither green nor white since the Germans manned the drawing board, and the star has been re-coloured – but the elaborate patterning on the hoops hasn’t been universally welcomed.
What has been a pleasant surprise is the bespoke hooped socks – complete with “CELTIC” detail – marking an upgrade in status for the Glasgow side that was hinted at by their inclusion in the Teamgeist range (and getting one of the better shirts of that Marmite enterprise). The first below-knee item with a club-specific inscription was overdue but hopefully it’ll be a sign of things to come.
The away is glorious, being a carbon-copy modernisation of Umbro’s 1992-94 equivalent until you look closely and realise it’s not… but really it is, and the 2022-23 third gets a bit of a pass on looking like kit design improv – think Cards Against Humanity but with colours – due to its celebration of the Celtic Park stadium and subtle inclusion of the famous “Bumblebee” palette.
There is an alternative history – this site does a good trade in those – where Celtic had a grey change shirt in their centenary(-celebrating) season, courtesy of a fauxback item currently available, and there was the bizarre never-worn third from New Balance’s last season, but this is really Celtic’s first utilised grey release/invisibility cloak.
But did someone mention the Bumblebee? Three years, nine outfield kits in and adidas are yet to provide Celtic with a remake of one of their most embraced change designs – the 1996-98 away. Well, while New Balance went for it right away, Nike waited until the fourth season, so to anyone bemoaning Manchester City essentially receiving one from Puma (fourth season, incidentally) before Celtic have from adidas, watch this space.
If a Bumblebee’s missing from the 2023-24 wardrobe, adidas will have dropped the ball. Otherwise, so far so good. No real monstrosities and arguably some classics in there, albeit several being classics based on classics. adidas Celtic kits, and the associated training and leisure ranges, have met with expectation.