Gorgeous Red Star FC kit tops any Manchester United or Juventus shirt in 2020

adidas kits – 2020 overview

As our season overview series begins to draw to a close we’re rounding off with the big guns, starting with adidas’ kits in 2020.

adidas need no introduction, and the Three Stripes only seem to be cementing their foothold on the footballing world. After recently reuniting with Arsenal, the brand have furthered their reach by securing notable deals with the likes of Leeds and Celtic.

Despite some questionable template usage a couple of years back, the Three Stripes have pleasingly begun to move with the times more recently, with some good examples of template usage that show there’s life in the approach. In many ways adidas were the gold standard for templates back in the 80s and 90s, and though there were some significant glitches in the matrix (looking at you Condivo 18), I’d generally consider it a strength of the brand.

Across their portfolio adidas have adopted an ‘art inspired’ theme for many of their teams, leading to plenty of brushstroke aesthetics and painterly styles. We of course also saw this realised even further with the Humanrace collection which, despite criticism, has opened up some great conversations when it comes to collaboration, and the reinvention of vintage designs.

When it comes down to brass tacks though, what sort of a year are adidas having? Do we actually have some good 2020 adidas kits that communicate the direction and stand tall on their own two feet, or is the arty theme becoming a little bit stale?

Best 2020 adidas kits

Red Star FC away kit 2020

This shirt might just be my favourite of 2020 across all brands, let alone just adidas. I fell in love with the design as soon as I saw it, and getting my hands on the shirt itself only grew my affection.

adidas aren’t typically a brand you’d associate with wild designs, but Red Star’s kits buck the trend in a brilliant way. An incredible pattern, which features imagery and symbols from the club’s history, adorns the entire shirt. The level of detail impresses me here, and as soon as you zoom in on the shirt you can begin to appreciate the stories that are being told.

Colour wise, we have an interesting white and burgundy tandem which I don’t remember seeing from many other shirts. There’s just the right level of contrast between the base and pattern and the various applications too, and the cutout “VICE” logo is appreciated here in order to see more of the pattern.

In truth, this design is much more interesting than many adidas designs because it was driven by London design studio Acid FC, as opposed to adidas themselves. Based on the evidence of this kit, adidas should be banging on the doors of other design studios for 2021…

Ajax away kit 2020

Ajax’s away shirt got a lot of love after its arrival at the start of release season, and the design has held strong since then for me.

The design is notably not unique to the club, but the relatively sparse usage of the seasonal graphic in play here helps this shirt quite a bit. I’m a big supporter of good quality templates and seasonal graphics, and when they’re not only good to look at but also used for just a handful of teams, it can work as well as a bespoke pattern can.

This is another season where Ajax have taken an interesting direction in terms of colour choices for an away shirt, and the grainy look of the pattern combined with the almost ‘denim’ aesthetic gives me serious USA ‘94 vibes, in a very good way.

Leicester third kit 2020

Continuing the theme of well executed templates, Leicester are swooping in to claim the final position in my best adidas kits selection. The maroon third shirt is simple, but the colour choice hits a lovely unexpected note. 

This particular adidas design also makes great use of some ‘cutout’ three stripes on the sides of the shirt, and I’d love to see the look more often in future as opposed to the typical aesthetic.

As much as I love a subliminal pattern, this shirt is an example of a design which could easily have been ruined by an overeager addition. 

Worst 2020 adidas kits

Wolves away kit 2020

adidas templates give, and adidas templates most certainly take away.

The Wolves away shirt is quite simply an ugly shirt right off the bat. The pattern, which we’ve seen on a number of other kits, is typically much easier to stomach in a colourway that blends in with the body of the shirt rather than a contrasting look.

As a template, the Condivo 20 is tricky to pull off (with Red Star showing a rare example of how it can be utilised), and the clunkines of the construction is only emphasised by the clean shoulder and sleeve portion of the kit, which sits jarringly next to the busy body. And speaking of jarring, the sponsor still somehow manages to hurt the design despite how much is going on behind it.

It’s a blessing that Wolves won’t be forced into too many colour changes with the relatively rarity of their home colour scheme (not that that stops other teams using their away kits…), and as further consolation the Portugal-esque third kit sits at the other end of the aesthetic spectrum to the away.

Manchester United away kit 2020

If I’d have been compiling this list midway during the summer, United’s controversial third shirt might well have been occupying this spot. However, since its release and subsequent usage I’ve grown to appreciate the zebra/dazzle camo look. That kit has something of a story, but the away kit is instead a forgettable footnote.

‘Legacy Green’ sounds like an interesting colour choice, but the reality is quite bland. Pattern wise, there’s shades of Joy Division’s iconic album cover design, and I would’ve been intrigued to see that direction explored further, with a design making use of some contrasting white lines. The danger of that approach would be that it’d stray too far into cliche ‘soundwave’ territory, but I’d trust adidas to come up with something creative.

It’s not even worth mentioning at this point, but the clunky Chevrolet sponsor knocks this design down several pegs as it has done with every other United shirt. But you already know that by now.

Juventus home kit 2020

adidas have tried hard to try and be inventive with the Juventus home shirt over recent seasons, and their art inspired 2020 home kit for I Bianconeri has some interesting elements including subtle variations on the exact makeup of each stripe across different copies of the kit (due to the manufacturing process).

What I’m not so keen on however is the completely plain back. Though certainly not exclusive to Juventus here, I’m tired of seeing plain backs on striped shirts. Of course this movement has largely come about due to competition regulations in terms of name and number visibility, but for a team like Juventus it hurts to see.

Only hurting the problem is the fact the ‘arty’ look of the stripes leaves the shirt looking quite white as a whole. In fact, this might be the ‘whitest’ Juventus home shirt we’ve ever seen. Gold applications and stripes start pushing this into Real Madrid territory even, which opens up the door for some sort of Ronaldo conspiracy.

Overall impression

adidas blow hot and cold in many ways. They continually show a real knack for utilising their templates in the best possible way, producing shirts which stand tall despite their shared features. They’ve also shown what is possible with a collaborative approach to their design processes, as demonstrated brilliantly by their work with design studio Acid FC for the Red Star kits.

Sadly many of their biggest howlers and missed opportunities also happen to be for their biggest teams. United and Juventus have both been highlighted, but in truth other big teams lag behind in my books. The art direction produced some solid kits, but in truth I think the theme didn’t land as well as something like Puma’s city inspired approach.

I’m feeling quite positive about the future of adidas kits, but I’m in a bit of a wait and see mood. Your move, adi.

We have one brand to go in our season overview series. Catch up with the other brands we’ve looked at, including Puma and Umbro, and see how all the big names compare to to adidas kits in 2020.

Phil Delves

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