Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tottenham Hotspur Home 2010/11

Firstly, I’ll state that this is probably my favourite Premiership kit this season. Considering the depths last season’s Tottenham effort sunk to, with its unnecessary, inappropriate yellow trim and terrible dirty grey neck panel, it was always going to be fairly easy to produce something better this time around. When the first leaked shots appeared however, it seemed Puma may have performed a near miracle, for here was a shirt steeped in retro, clearly influenced by a Spurs kit of old...looks very late 70s / early 80s...let’s just check through all their old, nothing really like it at all...there’s this Admiral thingy, but that’s an England kit...maybe they had a limited edition or something? No. Nothing. Despite my memory swearing blind there’s an old Tottenham shirt like this one, it just doesn’t exist. Please correct me if I’m wrong on this, however.

So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the kit itself. As already stated, I was not a fan of last season’s due to the over fussy nature and use of too varied a colour palette so it’s pleasing to see this whole kit, in contrast, is played out in just the traditional Spurs combo of white and navy. An incredibly dark navy in this looks almost black. The most obvious feature is the diagonal shoulder panel and it is this which really sets this shirt apart from others this season. One cannot escape the overwhelming retro feel and it’s the shoulder panel that really sets the tone. It’s a very bold move as it’s in no way subtle, but it just works so well, right down to the mis-matched lines either side of the neck; a small detail, but one which adds a further touch of class and design.

This is aided by the curious neck design, comprising a decidedly old fashioned looking mix of crossover crew neck (although it could be a very shallow V neck?) finished off with a triangle of white underneath. It’s an odd mix of two different styles as one almost feel there’s a collar missing somewhere, yet I feel it works perfectly and really puts the finishing touch to the overall look.

One final note on the shirt is the sponsor, software infrastructure company, Autonomy. Alas, their logo spoils the whole thing. It’s a sizeable graphic and the circular nature of it just doesn’t sit well with the generally straight line heavy design. To compound this, the red dot adds a colour that just shouldn’t be there. There are several decent shirts ruined by a logo that just doesn’t fit and this is sadly one of them.

The shorts mirror the diagonal panel in reverse, albeit only on the right leg, though anything more and it would have looked too busy and detracted from the shirt. The socks are white with navy tops and the 2 narrow stripes from the right shoulder panel running horizontally across the middle, with the puma logo underneath. I can’t help but feel it would have been better to have either kept these all white or perhaps just topped with the navy...the stripes seem superfluous and as they’re not diagonal, create an unbalanced feel to the whole kit. This is a minor issue, however and should not take anything away from the brilliance of the complete article.

Overall, at a time where Puma are producing some pretty average kits (Newcastle for example), this is an outstanding effort.

Of course, one cannot complete this review without mentioning the ‘cup’ shirt...
In these days of cash raking, there’s always an opportunity to garner some extra cash somewhere and the last few seasons has seen the rise of the one-off limited edition outfit. While several teams have issued European editions for years now, Spurs have gone in a slightly different direction and released a shirt to be worn in all cup competitions for the next two years (as shown below).

The slight problem here is it’s just the exact same shirt with a different sponsor, in this case, asset management firm, Investec. Just in case fans were considering purchasing both shirts, it’s worth noting the Investec branded one is only available online from the Spurs shop and is priced at £55 (or £60 if you’re on the larger side...4XL & 5XL to clarify). This does include personalisation, although they do state this is ‘free’ personalisation, so the true cost of the shirt is indeed £55, which seems excessively steep given you can get the standard home shirt for as little as £35

The saddest thing about this situation is this logo actually suits the shirt better than the Autonomy one, being a more subtle logo and rendered in just the one, matching colour. Ah well, at least if they get to raise a trophy this season it’ll almost certainly be wearing this outfit...unless they’re in their so-so away kit of course, but that’s another story...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Inter Milan Home 2010/11

Kit design is as cyclical as mainstream fashion, if perhaps on a somewhat longer cycle. In recent years, this cycle seems to be ever decreasing with clubs having moved from releasing a new kit every few years to up to 3 every new season (plus the odd European edition for good measure). As the pace of change increases, so the time span between design phases shortens and as kit designers look ever more to the past for influence, so we see the period of influence change too.

One period that so far seems to have been largely ignored however, is the late 80s / early 90s. This was a time that saw designers no longer shackled by the limits of fabric technology and with it a host of insane ideas were released into the kit world. As with all fits of excess, it burned itself out in a refreshers coloured flame at Euro 96 and shirts once again settled into the land of collars and traditional colour schemes. Things soon began to swing further in the retro direction and the logical conclusion was reached with the ultra minimalist Tailored By Umbro range. But as is the way with design, once a point has been reached, the only way to go to be fresh is in the opposite direction and a few kits of late have hinted that perhaps it is time for the retro backlash to begin and maybe we would begin to see a return to some of the more interesting ideas from the time.

At first glance, this seems like just another standard Inter shirt...the requisite black n blue stripes, Pirelli sponsor, classic V neck etc...but something isn’t quite right and there’s something familiar about it, but I just can’t quite work out what...but then from a childhood memory I see images of Peter Shilton picking the ball out of the net...a lot. And there it is...Inter will be taking to the field in 2010 in a re-imagined version of England’s goalie kit from Euro 88. And I for one am all the happier for this. For too long kits have been taking themselves too seriously and this will hopefully herald a new dawn as alongside every retro cool, there’s also room for something a bit more...’eccentric’.

That said, maybe this design isn’t so one dimensional, so easy to label...yes the stripes are clearly influenced by late 80s experimentation, but the overall look and feel of the shirt is actually one of clean lines and simplicity. There’s no unnecessary trim, the sleeve design doesn’t vary from that of the main body, the sponsor’s logo is bold and clear and the V neck is an understated wrap-over in plain black. Stepping back and considering the shirt as a whole, it’s actually a great piece of design; A classic shirt that’s undeniably Inter, but with a hint of something assertion that maybe some of those garish kits weren’t actually all that bad and that it might well be time to reintegrate some of those ideas back into the world of kit design to create a new hybrid. Post modern, modernist cool.