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  • by Phil Delves June 25, 2023 2 min read

    Are hummel stuck in the past?

    The release of Southampton's 2023 home shirt was more than 2 years in the making.

    Since the announcement of the club's return to hummel in 2021, a remake of The Saints iconic 1987-1989 home was on the cards. You already know what the 1987 Southampton shirt looks like, it's virtually identical to the legendary Denmark '86 shirt.

    In the late 80s hummel rolled out versions of their most famous design for all their major clubs, and early indications suggest they are repeating the same trick in 2023 with multiple shirts already referencing '86 and more rumoured to be waiting in the wings.

    Though the Denmark shirt is a stone-cold classic, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Are hummel simply over-milking the retro cow? 

    1986 Denmark shirt template

    We don't need to spend too much time talking about the Denmark '86 shirt because, well, it's arguably in the Top 3 most famous vintage football kits of all time. I'd certainly rank it alongside Germany '88 and Holland '88 in the highest tier of shirts which have left a lasting legacy. Indeed, if you look at any reputable list of the 'best' football shirts of all time you'll see Denmark there somewhere (notably it was 1st on a recent list from FourFourTwo).

    Now with Southampton, Saint-Étienne (away), Brøndby (home) and Denmark (away), the design has been thrust back into public consciousness. Leaks and rumours are swirling that other major hummel teams like Real Betis, Werder Bremen and Everton will receive at least one Denmark 86 tribute in their 2023/24 kit stable, and the timing seems unusual.

    Why are hummel leaning so heavily into what could be seen as a relatively lazy, template-driven approach? Well, 2023 just so happens to be their 100th anniversary. When it comes to 100th anniversaries other major brands like adidas (1949) and Nike (1964) have got a long time to wait, but hummel are one of the elder statesmen. What better way to celebrate their crowning achievement than with a revisit on their big birthday, right?

    If that's where the story ended I'd agree with those voicing their disappointment. A simple rehash of the Denmark 86 shirt for several teams would be novel but ultimately a little disappointing. Based on what we've seen so far though, I'm more positive about the approach.

    2023 Southampton home shirt

    If you look closely at Southampton's new shirt you'll notice something interesting. Within the pinstripes are a series of small rose motifs; a welcome addition which, though hard to spot, helps to give the shirt a sense of identity despite the familiarity of the overall aesthetic. I also appreciate the fact that we've already seen variation on the theme, with Brøndby's home operating as a tonal, yellow on yellow look as opposed to the more defined half and half aesthetic of someone like Southampton (white/red).

    Like any good template, if there is sufficient variation it can land well. Bespoke colours, details, construction differences (collar, cuffs), there are many ways to help keep a similar design fresh across multiple teams. If hummel continue to demonstrate that approach they'll have achieved what they set out to do.

    Phil Delves
    Phil Delves

    As Head of Content, Phil is the creative playmaker of the team, covering every angle of football shirt news in our blogs and weekly Newsletter. Whether it's telling your fakes from your authentics, or deep dives into the newest football shirts designs, Phil will have all your football shirt content needs covered.

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