“Football shirts are part of life” – FFT discusses with designers how they make their ideas come true

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Here’s the little-known secret to a great soccer jersey. According to the best designers in the industry, the most powerful shirts are taking fans back to a simpler time before Facebook and Twitter – satisfying a longing for an era before social media cluttered our minds, when “everything was going. better “.

Forget the physical shirt. Shirt design is all about taking you back to happier times, through tribal color and sheer nostalgia.

“Soccer jerseys take us back to a time without social media, where we were more free and less connected,” said Inigo Turner, adidas design director. FourFourTwo. “It’s about combining technological and cultural immersions around the teams we cover. We want to tell stories about clubs, in cities, looking for supporters, maybe musical scenes. ”

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He says, “Longing is the Zeitgeist. People want to feel very connected at a certain time when things were going better. There are new trends, but the nostalgia is ingrained. There will always be an affection for the past, for good memories.

Turner sees his responsibility in designing football shirts as creating the classics of the future: “We want to spark the imagination and create something that supporters can connect with, build on and care for,” he says. .

“Manchester United’s third shirt this year – it’s been the subject of a lot of controversy. That black and white shirt is dazzling. But there is a story behind it. And the story we tried to tell is that the stripes are part of the culture of the club and ultimately of Manchester, and it’s about their history 100 years ago, but also what is relevant today.

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It’s a world of stripes, zigzags, abstract patterns and beauty. Football fans crave design and bright colors – tifos, pyros, scarves and more to create the ultimate experience of the day. Color is an escape from painful 0-0, unimaginable 5-0 defeats, desperate tactics – this world of football design is an art that gives the fan an identity. It breaks the boredom and agony that the football fan feels in the stands.

FourFourTwo caught up with some of the unsung heroes of soccer fan culture to get an in-depth look at how soccer jersey design tells stories based on nostalgia.

Besides Inigo Turner, David Hicks and James Webb have created some remarkable soccer jerseys. Hicks designed some of the stunning Roma shirts in the ’90s, and Turner and Webb worked on last season’s iconic’ Bruised Banana ‘redesign, among many others.

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Webb, a designer from Adidas, believes that soccer jerseys bring us together in a way that touches us emotionally. “Football shirts transcend different generations,” he says. “These are those memories of your first football games. Now we’re in a generation where soccer jerseys aren’t just for going to the soccer game – they’re streetwear, and they’re a part of your life.

Ainsley Maitland Niles

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He believes that every club and national team has a unique story to tell. “They all have backgrounds. We are not trying to reinvent the past, but we are looking to celebrate it a bit, ”he says. “We are also looking to the future. Everything we do has sort of a story behind it, and it’s our goal to tell those stories.

Hicks, who worked for design company Zone, believes the shirt needs to resonate with the club, its supporters and the community for it to be meaningful. He says, “There has to be an emotional and factual reason why a design is chosen, and also something that invokes a feeling, a passion, a purpose or a moment. It can’t just be the business side and led by marketers. It has to come from the fans, be for the fans and the team!

Ultimately, design has to express creativity and push boundaries.

“We need to inject more passion into ideas and then you will see amazing things. For example, the famous Bordeaux Arsenal 2005/06 kit, ”explains Hicks.

There is so much love for the design and impact of the soccer jersey. For the best designers in the industry, it stems from their childhood.

Webb marveled at soccer jerseys and stickers as a child. “I think my earliest football memories are probably those of my old man,” he recalls. “He was buying me the Merlin football stickers for the Premier League. And I was completely blown away by all the colors and all the teams jerseys. I remember some special jerseys – teams like Coventry, Manchester United. big teams who loved big colors and from there I think it was pure romance with soccer jerseys.

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Turner’s childhood memories also prompted him to become a shirt designer: “I grew up in a family of football-loving brothers, so all of my siblings were Manchester United fans, and all of my older brothers. had swimsuits. From a young age I was exposed to these bright, red, three-stripe United shirts from the 80s. They were fascinating and I hooked very early on.

“I’ve always loved soccer so I started designing my favorite players and shirts. I think part of that tied me to being a soccer shirt designer,” Turner says. “I loved it. that when I was a kid; you don’t really think shirt design could be a career. In the ’80s, I’m not sure even this kind of work was something I could hope for. But the ingredients were well and truly there.

Hicks considers 70s football to be the root of his passion: “I’ve always loved the Crystal Palace jerseys from the late 70s – with the graphic diagonal stripe. Vince Hilaire was the silkiest and most skillful player of the time. I remember looking at him in that jersey and it always made me want to play myself.

Vince Hilaire

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The pleasure for the kit designers lies in seeing their work come to life: “I remember the day my boss arrived from Diadora with the home and away kits for the 1998 Roma season, which I had spent on three months on the job – I was lucky enough to keep them and keep them even now. I used to play soccer in the park with my mates on a Thursday night and they all called me ‘Roma’ because I was wearing the jersey for a kick!

It’s a long journey from design to production. “We start designing until almost two years before the shirt is released,” says Turner. “We decide what stories we might look for to do our research on – and we travel and research those stories. Then we start the design process, which can take a few months, by meeting with the clubs. We get their feedback, maybe make some changes, and then we do the sampling.

“When the samples are back, we go out to share the products with the club. Hope they like it, we like it. Otherwise, we make the adjustments at this point. And then we have a sample just to check that everything is fine before they go into production. Then they come to life.

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And in the production process, innovation is evident. Adidas has transformed its shirts with technology: “It has always been innovation driven. What we do is always informed by our science and technology and our innovation team. And their insight always drives us to new technologies, ”says Turner.

“We used to use what we called Formotion – baked clothes, with motion assist technology. And we have developed these technologies over time. At the 2010 World Cup we used Tech Fit and at the 2014 World Cup we introduced AdiZero. We are always looking to innovate and find better solutions to allow players to play at the highest level. Technology has helped change the world of soccer jerseys.

Football shirts are special. Their designers have such a passion for such art. Webb says: “Everything is very satisfactory. The people you meet, the cultural ideas. We also do a job that we love, it all goes hand in hand.

“You have to pinch yourself in this work.

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