For kit lovers across the world, this week has been a big one.
As with any big drop, there were winners and losers here, with some countries – we’re looking at you Norway – being able to claim both titles.
Perhaps the highest profile shirts came from England and France, and on the whole these two countries should be happy with what they have. Both France’s home and away tops hit the mark perfectly, with Les Bleus’ home going back a classic look with the single red stripe, and the away being kept gloriously simple, and using the sides of the shirt to highlight the tricolor flag – which reminds us a lot of a style used by a certain German kit provider.
England, meanwhile, have a great new home shirt to look forward to. The central crest and Nike logo looks really smart, while the dark-blue crew-neck collar and side lightening stripes are giving off Admiral vibes. Their away shirt, however, leaves a little to be desired but we will get to that later.
Elsewhere, there was a strong showing from the Scandinavian and Nordic nations, as Norway’s aforementioned away shirt brought an ice cool look to the kit drops and Finland incorporated their crest design into the shirt.
Special mention must also go to Slovenia and Croatia, who continued with their usual distinctive styles, with the Croats opting for large chequers, and Slovenia once again giving us an eye catching mountain pattern.
But like I said at the start, not every country was a winner yesterday, as one or two kits just missed the mark aesthetically.
Unable to copy it’s home counterpart, England’s away shirt falls into this category. Although the choice of dark blue is a new and refreshing colour scheme, the three lions pattern imposed upon the top looks a bit too messy and unfortunately can’t be saved by the use of a classic collar. Finland’s away top also makes use of a collar, but the result is more ‘spare P.E. polo top’ than international shirt
England and Finland fans can at least find solace in the fact that they have at least one nice new kit, which is more than fans of Turkey can say. While the use of a centralised crest is bold, they have fallen into the trap of making the shirts too simple, to a point that they just seem a bit boring.
But beyond the aesthetics of all of these shirts, it is interesting to view the entire day’s release as a whole. Nike announced last year that they would be moving away from the use of templates for future kits, and dropping all of these shirts together really illustrates their commitment to that.
Yes, there are still similarities and common design points. The centralised crests and Nike logos are always a welcome addition to shirts, bringing a simplicity to England, Turkey and Poland’s shirts. And collars also appear to be an important part of the releases, with Portugal, England, Finland and Poland set to show-off classic collars in the coming year. Even more modern collars, like the striking black V-neck of The Netherlands new home shirt, offer a stand-out design point.
Yet no shirts released yesterday could necessarily be said to have been following a particular template, with each nation being given their own finishing touch, personal in some way to their country. The return of the central red stripe to France’s home top is not replicated anywhere else, the mosaic lion design on The Netherlands shirt is an eye-catching, all-encompassing design, and like it or loathe it, the triple striped Portugal away shirt is most definitely unique – although we couldn’t resist fixing it for Cristiano and co.
So overall, what Nike gave us yesterday felt like a much more open and personal release. This is even reflected in many of yesterday’s release photos, with England, France and The Netherlands all unveiling their new shirts using pictures of their star players huddled with fans.
Our first chance to see these shirts in the flesh should come this weekend, as Nations League and EURO 2020 qualifiers take place. In one way or another, supporters of each nation have something within their shirt to resonate with, and so as they watch their national teams take to the field over the next year, the connection they feel might be all the more strong.
So really, while a day like yesterday presented the challenges of just keeping up with the sheer number of new releases, it also reminded us why we love shirts so much.
Cheers, Nike, but maybe give us a couple of days notice next time?
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