Welcome to the first part of a new series looking at what the biggest brands in world football are bringing to the table in 2020.
The new season is either a few days old or just about to begin, depending on where you are, and the hot takes of the summer months are now being weighed up against what we’re seeing on the pitch.
First up in our brand focus is New Balance, fresh off a historic campaign with Liverpool in 2019/20. Of course the brand no longer work on Merseyside, but there are still a handful of clubs flying the flag.
Let’s scour the globe and see what sort of a year New Balance are having.
My pick of the New Balance bunch comes courtesy of Lille. All 3 of their new kits could have made this group (and indeed, 2 of them have), and quite simply New Balance have knocked it out the park for the French side.
Of the trio, the third kit steals the show for me. From a distance the design is quite understated, with the asymmetric cuff details jumping out the most. The light blue and red lines emanating from the ‘shirt’ side of the cuffs to the front are a nice touch, not least because it nods to the French flag. New Balance shirts of recent times are notable for their branded cuff detailing, but this detail sits alongside the usual detail to great effect.
The best thing about this shirt though is the crest and NB logo. Look closely and you’ll see the applications actually have subtle blue and red drop shadows, creating an old-school 3D aesthetic. It’s a wonderful look showing the sort of attention to detail which many brands fail to achieve, and it’s the primary reason this shirt is very high on my 2020/21 wishlist.
That’s not all, there’s even a stunning graphic on the inside of the shirt behind the crest. This is a recurring theme across all major New Balance teams, and it’s one of my favourite things across all kits in 2020. Other brands ought to take note.
Lille away kit 2020
Some teams get all the sauce, and Lille’s away shirt is almost as good as their third shirt in my eyes. The black and silver colourway is a delight, but things are taken to another level with a white and red pattern which reminds me of The Matrix in a very good way.
We’re constantly bombarded by patterns in the football shirt world, but I find myself increasingly drawn to designs on the more subtle end of the spectrum. In both style and colour, this pattern falls into that category, and it lifts an already lovely design.
Though no exclusive to this particular away kit, I’m also struck by Lille’s crest which complements the New Balance cuff detailing to perfection. It’s angular shape and sharp edges is one of the most striking in European football, and New Balance are certainly doing it and the club justice this year.
Seoul E-Land FC home kit 2020
I promised I’d scour the globe, and for my final pick in the ‘best’ category I’m taking us over to South Korea. The young Korean side Seoul E-Land (formed in 2014) ply their trade in the second division, but their kits in 2020 rival anything you’ll see in top flight world football.
New Balance have expertly crafted a subliminal leopard pattern across the front of the 2020 Seoul E-Lan kits, and it’s a look which has paid off handsomely. Of the home and away, my pick is the home with its deep blue and gold colourway.
The colour combination is directly linked with the crest of the team, and though this design received very little coverage at the time of its release back in late February, it deserves to be talked about now.
Some kits leave you wanting more, and New Balance’s efforts for Dynamo Kiev sadly fall firmly into that category. I absolutely love the inside crest detailing, but everything else feels half-baked to me.
There’s a distinct lack of depth to the line-based pattern of the away shirt, and it’s a forgettable look in a highly competitive field.
Capping things off is the Ukranian flag detail which looks a little bit too high in comparison to the NB logo and Dynamo crest. Chalk this one down as a miss.
Standard Liège away kit 2020
The Standard Liège home shirt was in contention for a top 3 spot in my rankings, but their away shirt is a completely different story.
Designs that utilise gradients are tricky to pull off, and I’m not keen on the aesthetic here. We talked before with the Lille kits about how the sharp, angular approach complemented the style of New Balance’s brand, and by contrast this more ‘washed out’ look feels at odds with the New Balance details, and even the sponsor.
With more design details throughout the kit, and different approach to the various gradients (blending across multiple colours instead of fading from red to nothing perhaps?), this kit would have scored more highly.
Now, I’ll come out right away and say that this shirt is largely in this group because of something completely out of New Balance’s control.
Harrogate Town’s 2020 home shirt features arguably the ugliest sponsor in English football. The giant red logo of “Strata”stands out like an eyesore on the yellow and black base of the Town kit, and sadly the rest of the kit can’t make up for it.
I don’t find the braces look (famously worn by sides like Porto in the past, amongst others) particularly appealing, and I can’t help but wonder what the shirt would look like if the Strata logo was black and sat slightly smaller in the middle of the shirt. You’d then had a bit of a “H” look, which could have been quite fun or gimmicky depending on who you ask.
Despite muted expectations, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I’m seeing from New Balance in 2020.
There’s great variety to be found across their portfolio, and from a colour perspective there are a lot of tasty combinations across the board. Some of their kits feel a little bit too safe, and I don’t feel as high on them as I did a couple of seasons ago, but I’d love to see them pick up another big club or two to really show the world what they’re made of.
I have to mention their inside the crest details once again too. The graphics, which can be seen on the shirts of all their major teams, are absolutely top drawer, and those details alone give me a lot of hope looking ahead to the future.
Which brand would you like to see me talk about next in our 2020 overview series? Let me know in the comments below.
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