Borussia Dortmund and AIK have been two of the leading proponents of special edition shirts over the past 5 years or so, and for this week's Collectors Club I want to assess not so much the latest designs themselves, but how both club's went about releasing the shirts.
First off, a brief sentence on either design. Borussia Dortmund dipped back into the blackout pool, releasing a new shirt which they themselves admitted was created to essentially recreate the hype of the OG Dortmund blackout shirt from 2019. AIK continued their long-standing tradition of releasing a special edition shirt, with a number of typically 'AIK' details including the wordmark/swoosh mashup Nike logo from last year.
Worn on the pitch and available off it
As we start, it's worth highlighting that both teams have already worn the shirts on pitch. Some sort of match appearance is a huge boost for any special shirt, and a kit which claims to be special edition but isn't worn in a fixture (even a pre-season friendly) is significantly less valuable in my eyes.
Next let's consider the price of either shirt. Dortmund priced their new shirt at a very competitive €89.99 (~£79.10), not much more than your typical replica shirt. AIK's shirt was priced higher at SEK 1,199 (~£95.72), but once again the cost seems fairly reasonable when you consider the cost of a standard, player spec shirt is usually above three figures these days.
What of availability? Here is where we saw Dortmund and AIK take different approaches. For Dortmund the approach, and result, was relatively straightforward. The shirt was available on their store shortly after announcement, and the shirt promptly sold out in rapid fashion (unsurprisingly so, especially given the decent price!). Interestingly, the club announced later on launch day that the shirt had sold out and would be released in a second batch (the swift response suggests the demand had been anticipated; no bad thing).
It's a different story with AIK. Just 132 copies were initially made available to season ticket holders only. This sort of gated availability has often been called for from those who dislike the idea of people buying a shirt for a club they don't support (or even worse, flipping the shirt for profit. This is something we'll have to talk more about in a future week). Though not explicitly stated in the initial press release, club partner Pro:Direct will also be stocking another batch of shirts for an international audience, though details remain scarce on exactly when the shirts will be available.
Missing the mark in some ways
Unfortunately for both shirts, there is no individual numbering. For a special edition shirt, especially one with reportedly limited numbers such as the case of AIK, the lack of individual numbering impacts collectability. We have no idea how big the Pro:Direct batch will be, and individual patches would have gone a long way to ensuring long term value of the shirts.
A couple more factors before we close. Both shirts were packaged inside special boxes, with Dortmund going a step further offering a "special piece of coal" inside each box (the statement was later edited out of the press release, so it's unclear whether the shirts will actually ship with coal). AIK also made mention that profits from the shirts would be directed to club partner charities; something which has been true of previous special edition kits.
Broadly speaking I think both clubs did more good than bad in regards to the kits. I'm particularly impressed at the cost of both shirts, which highlight how absurd the RRPs on most shirts are. In terms of availability, though I'd generally prefer the Dortmund method of a broad release with restocks included, I see a lot of credence in the AIK way of doing things. Why not do both, and give fans a first refusal before a broader release?
It's disappointing to see a lack of individual numbering for both launches, at least from what I've seen online. With even a large batch in the thousands, some sort of numbering helps to put the 'special' in 'special edition', and the relatively low cost factor makes it an essential in my eyes. It'd be a shame to see more clubs omit this element moving forward.
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.