Gone are the days when players wore only football shirts on the pitch. In the modern age, they are everything From fashion items to treasured memorabilia, to a sense of identity, For players, they represent high-performance clothing designed to give them a competitive edge, and for fans, wearing your team’s colors can not only show support but also inspire a sense of pride. .
Shirts take on even more importance in the build-up to the World Cup. Every fan has an opinion on what their national team should look like on the world stage – when it’s designed for England And this United States of america supporters, were released ahead of this month’s tournament in Qatar complained that they looked like training gear, Argentinian purple away shirt proved divisive even in spite of its message of gender equality.
What many fans don’t realize is that the finished product they see is the result of years of work by designers, marketers and brands. It is a difficult and often thankless process that involves trying to keep both fans and players happy, adapt to the conditions of the host country, and stay true to each team’s footballing origins.
As a former Nike brand lead who preferred to remain anonymous told ESPN: “They become kit nation.”
How much effort goes into each design and how much do the designers care about fan feedback? When do designers start planning for the next World Cup and why are leaks not as damaging as they might seem for the biggest brands? This is the behind-the-scenes look at the World Cup shirt – from start to finish.
how to design a world cup kit
For the biggest brands, World Cup planning often begins as soon as the host nation is selected.
This is the point at which they decide their strategy for the final — do they want to go for bright colors or attract younger fans? This is also the point at which research begins on how to best prepare players for the conditions they will face.
Craig Buglas was creative direction manager at Nike during the 2002 World Cup and was responsible for all the brand’s shirts at the tournament – including the winners. Brazil, He and his team realized that the polyester-knit jerseys usually worn by the players would not suit the humidity of the host countries South Korea And Japan, they passed away A new technology called “Cool Motion” Which wicks sweat out of the body through different layers. All but one of its teams – the United States – adopted the design.
“We tried our best to persuade them to take the kit, but they didn’t,” Buglas said. “We were disappointed, but it wasn’t the end of the world, because with all due respect to America, we weren’t expecting them to win the contest. But if you look at any picture [from the tournament]… Every picture you see of America, they are absolutely soaked.”
The design process then begins approximately two years before each World Cup, as designers begin to put their ideas down on paper and focus on colors in more detail. Buglas chose a “massive color” theme for Nike in South Korea and Japan – making each nation’s colors as loud as possible – after being inspired by a neon orange flyer he found outside a nightclub in Amsterdam. handed over.
“At the time I was in the process of designing and I thought it would be great for the Dutch national team,” Buglas said. “Behind that I thought, ‘Well, what would the versions be for all the different countries I was designing for?’
Designers may choose to be more subtle with how they use national colors. According to Rob Warner, who has worked for Umbro and Puma and who designed ItalyThe World Cup winning shirt in 2006, the fact that many national teams play in similar colours, forced designers to get creative.
“Everyone knows Brazil plays in yellow, but not everyone knows the importance of the Canaries or whatever that may be,” Warner said. “We plant a baobab tree in front Senegal shirt in 2006 and when we presented it to the federation, the assistant coach … actually started crying because he was so proud that this tree was on the front of this shirt.
The designs are agreed upon internally, a process that lasts about three months, before the unions have a say. Buglas designed a collarless Nike shirt for the 2002 World Cup, but South Korean football officials persuaded him to make an exception for them because they believed that not doing so would bring bad luck. He soon found himself fielding several calls from local journalists as the hosts embarked on a remarkable run into the semi-finals.
Sometimes requests from federations can be more delicate. “Probably the most back-and-forth I remember was actually 2006, designing for Ivory Coast“Their national symbol was an elephant on the front of the shirt, and so for them the length of the trunk on the elephant was important to the men in Ivory Coast.”
Input varies from player to player. portugal According to Buglas, the great Luís Figo was rarely interested in shirt design, but instead would ask about the fit of socks to the point of obsession. Other players require a more tailored approach – striker Peter Crouch required specially adapted shorts and socks for his 6-foot-7 frame when Warner was working for Umbro. The brand also had to apply for special permission from FIFA to use lowercase letters for Shaun Wright-Phillips’ surname.
FIFA rules can limit the creativity of designers, although there are ways to test the limits.
Warner, who founded Spark Design Academy association with Buglass, Puma when he created a sleeveless shirt for it cameroonWinning 2002 Africa Cup of Nations campaign. FIFA banned the radical design from that summer’s World Cup, but Puma made headlines again two years later when they created an all-in-one shirt designed to prevent shirt pulling. FIFA fined the Cameroonian FA 200,000 Swiss francs and deducted six points from their World Cup qualification campaign – although the punishment was rescinded after legal action was taken by Puma and Cameroon.
This shirt carries a message with it.
We do not want to be seen during a tournament in which thousands of lives have been lost.
We support the Danish national team in every way, but it is not the same as supporting Qatar as a host country. pic.twitter.com/7bgMgK7WzS
— Hummel (@Hummel1923) September 28, 2022
FIFA also states that no item of playing kit may be worn if the governing body considers it to be dangerous, offensive or indecent “including political, religious, or personal slogans, statements, or images”. That hasn’t stopped national teams from making strong statements.
Hummel unveils “toned-down” version Denmarkshirt for this year’s world cup Protest against alleged mistreatment of migrant workers by Qatar, During this, ukraineThe home shirts at last year’s European Championship featured a map of Crimea, a Russian-annexed territory recognized as being part of Ukraine. angry russian officer,
Leaks, launch day and fan revolt or sales boom
After a design is finalized, a launch date is set and designers wait to see how their creations will be received by the public. Shirt designs regularly get leaked well in advance, although this can actually be to the brands’ advantage building excitement before the big unveiling.
“It probably adds to the hype and the fans’ expectation, and that’s not a bad thing,” the former Nike brand chief told ESPN. “There are too many pieces of kit and inventory that are out there for retailers to be able to stop those leaks that are taking photos.”
With shirts, designers must play the social media gamble — as shown by the less-than-glowing reception to many of this tournament’s designs.
Buglas said, “You really have to respect the history and the fans as well.” “Because if you’re changing that with a color that’s completely off-kilter, that’s all that fans are going to revolt.”
A shirt’s success is often tied to a team’s success in a major tournament – but not always. When headed towards a free-flowing brazil Pele Won the first World Cup to be televised on color TV in 1970, a generation of fans fell in love with the team and their canary yellow strip. opposite of this, NigeriaThe group-stage exit in 2018 seemed fortuitous as their colorful designs quickly sold out after their release.
“If you create an emotional connection with the fans in instances like this, they want to wear that shirt with pride as well,” said the former head of the Nike brand who preferred to remain anonymous, referring to “storytelling”. “On the back of that shirt.
Fans remember moments of World Cup glory, though, and brands know how to play on that connection to the past. Chris Stride, an academic at the University of Sheffield who has researched nostalgia in football shirts, says that since the 1990s brands have sought to appeal to adults’ earliest sporting memories as a way of selling their products to older generations. Started. This is a series that continues even today.
“Nostalgia with an international shirt is likely to be more about shared moments,” Stride said. “When you have an international tournament, your family watches, people who are not into football watch … a collective memory as much as an individual one.”