Barcelona in stripes, Croatia in their checkerboard, Celtic in hoops. For many of the biggest clubs and nations in world football, the distinctive pattern of the team’s kits is a consistent thread which can be traced throughout the decades (at least for the home kits…).
Some teams are lucky enough to have more than just one iconic aesthetic. Take River Plate for example.
The Argentinian giants are global ambassadors for the sash. Their kits down the years have been blessed with thick red diagonal lines that flash across beautiful white bases. Even their crest is essentially a red sash within a white shield, and one of the team’s nicknames is literally La Banda, or The Stripe. If you ask anyone to name a team that plays in a sash, the only other team that’d likely come close is Peru, and even then the shared colour scheme would likely jolt memories of River anyway.
When clubs have some sort of recurring theme running throughout their kit history. 🥰🥰🥰
As if this wasn’t enough, River Plate have a secondary, alternative look which is equally memorable and as steeped in history as the immortal sash. The black-trimmed, red and white stripes of River Plate is a simple yet stunning motif which the club have returned to on multiple occasions, and the latest incarnation of the design carries on that tradition well.
The 2021 River Plate third shirt bears striking resemblance to the 2000/02 away shirt on account of its black sleeves. Like the 2000 shirt, we also have relatively thick stripes as opposed to the thinner stripes of something like the 2018 third shirt. Regardless, this is unmistakably a River Plate shirt, and despite the similarities with Sheffield United kits of the past (2017 in particular), the comparisons say more about how good some Sheffield United kits have been than anything else in my eyes.
What I particularly like about striped River Plate kits throughout history is the use of black. River home kits are usually kept exclusively white and red, but designs like the 2021 third introduce black to the Los Millonarios palette in a pleasing way. The framing of each red and white stripe in black elevates the shirts from being a Sunderland or Southampton clone, or indeed a Sheffield United remake (as most, but not all, Blades kits haven’t had stripes trimmed with black).
Another key detail to note in River Plate’s 2021 third shirt is the neckline. adidas were left somewhat on the backfoot with many of their 2020 kits, with the Condivo 20 template in particular looking clunky in many of its outings. It hasn’t taken long for the Three Stripes to right their wrongs though, and I like the look of this new collar and neckline which we’ll no doubt see on some of the major European releases later in the year.
Even as I type this, I’m realising that I desperately need to add a striped River Plate to my collection. If I can’t bag a vintage wonder, the 2021 third shirt won’t be a bad consolation prize at all.
What is FSC Approved?
What makes a football shirt good? It’s a purely subjective question, right?
Whilst there are indeed a lot of subjective elements when it comes to shirts, there are still factors to consider. Sometimes, a design is notable for its unique aesthetic. The colourway, pattern or construction may have gone where no shirt dared to go before it, or it might simply be a particularly good utilisation of a classic approach. Other times, a legendary player elevates a design to immortality, even if the design in question would’ve been hard to pick out of a crowd before.
Our series FSC Approved will be a lovingly curated list of shirts that deserve to be in the conversation as good, possibly even great football shirts, no matter who you support or what your taste in shirts is. Old classics, new contenders, if it’s FSC Approved it’s as close to a certified banger as you can get.
Browse our huge collection of vintage shirts, including some River Plate classics. Pick one up here.