What is one thing that brings us all together? A new signing? A great goal? A solid defensive display? The answer I’m looking for is ‘a new kit’. Whether it really matters too much to you or not, you’re the one who has to look at them for the next few months as your team travel up and down the country, so a good kit is important. With finances tight for many clubs lower in the pecking order, now would be the right time to release some truly stunning kits in order to bring even more of their fans’ money into the club’s pocket. I’m sure a lot of us would splash out on a new sexy kit if we were capable and it looked good – supporting our clubs is as important now as it has ever been. Some of us love a football kit. I have an extensive collection – my better half might call it an addiction. Within the hangers of foreign football shirts that line my wardrobe is six from my beloved Crewe Alexandra. A beauty from our League One relegation year (a tasty black and yellow away number), our blue striped outfit that we had as a third kit two years ago, and a treasured hand-me-down from my father: the home shirt that we wore as we lifted the penultimate Johnstone Paint Trophy in 2013; are the best I own. I like to think of myself as a ‘football shirt connoisseur’. I’m also a graphic designer, having studied and practiced for many years now. So now you know my credentials, here is me rating the best football kits from the English top four tiers.
Stoke City (Away)
If your home kit is effectively the same thing every year, then your away kit needs to be unique, different and special each time. This time, Stoke City have smashed it. Their Macron away shirt blends opposite colours – a sharp yellow and deeper blue; it isn’t always easy to create something classy with opposite colours like that but the zig-zag pattern blends the two together nicely. The yellow featuring solely on the arms is tidy and means it isn’t too obtuse.The odd zig-zags on the blue chest give some nice texture too.
Manchester City (Away)
WOW. Yes, yes, yes.
A black kit is hard to make particularly amazing – but Puma have absolutely smashed this. A beautiful mosaic style influenced by a lovely Moroccan theme maybe, or even a reference to the Arab culture from which the Man City owners come from; either way, its subtle a delightful. The bronze or even rose gold colour on the decals is immense also. Everything fits perfectly. Stunner.
Brighton & Hove Albion (Home)
In one word: tidy.
Brighton kits can be a bit dull at times, but this number dances on that fine margin of immense slickness and subtle beauty, to just awfully plain. Starting with the showpiece, the collar. The white fits the shade of blue complimentary, and the size and weight of collar isn’t overbearing. The one-button aspect is stylish and perfect, (anything more than one button is bad). The thin white pin-stripes offer a subtle twist to what-would-be a plain blue bore. It’s like they baked a tasty cake. Then they sprinkled some hundreds-and-thousands on top, in the form of small orange flashes, and suddenly the cake tastes nicer, and looks nicer.
Cheltenham Town (Home)
The kits of League Two are not too inspiring this year, but Errea have done something nice for Cheltenham Town. The pin-stripes are back, breaking up the red chest-plate nicely. In both this and the Brighton kit, it’s important that the stripes do not overlap the sponsor. A clean break for the advertisement, and then start them again. That is essential. The collar is a modernist take on a simple v-neck and I’m all for it. The invert coloured sleeves are back too; this time they fit the colour scheme and style complimentarily. It’s not bad at all.
Ipswich Town (Away)
Yes, okay, it does look like your painter has done a shoddy job on your kitchen ceiling, BUT, there is something uniquely nice about it. The white paired with the cool grey is a nice mix, add in the basic blue colour and you have got yourself a winning colour pallet. The collar is slightly strange but works nicely. Something that I really like is when club crests are a different colour than usual. Whether is a single colour or a two-tone blend, examples like this Ipswich Town shirt have a really modernist feel to them because of the unique crest.
There is something mad about this one. Beautifully inspired by previous Liverpool shirt designs, this 2020-21 away kit is smart. I enjoy the black collar and sleeve-ends, its almost like the craziness of the shirt is kept in a boundary by the black ends. The pattern is an old-school design, but it was meant as a futuristic style back then. Are we at the point where this kind of design is mainstream or still a bit alternate? It’s still very ‘out there’ if you ask me. As far as I am aware, every shirt has a different pattern on it. That’s a great USP (unique selling point), I know I’d buy it if it was Crewe Alex’s. That is very cool. And I like it!
Bristol City (Home Goalkeepers)
Holy moley. It’s bright.
Bristol City have just moved to a new ‘technical partner’, and its Hummel. And they’ve brought back a classic. Heavily inspired by the classic Hummel kits of the ’90s, but with a modern look. The lovely cross-stitch-looking hexagon design is pleasing on the eye – it’s not TOO overpowering. The fact the rainbow pattern is confined to the body and doesn’t spill over to the sleeves is a great touch too. The sponsor is a bit annoying. The weight of the typeface hampers the eligibility of it, but it is somewhat forgivable. It is almost a shame that this will only be for the keepers, as it would make a delightful away jersey.
Port Vale (Away)
Tom Pope might look scared, and Scott Brown might look utterly confused, but this kit is nice. As a Crewe fan it pains me to compliment the Vale (I’ll even it out when I rate the worst kits later), but if my South Cheshire boys produced this number I’d be all over it. We are strictly talking about the polished, full black shirt – the green keeper jersey is just fine. The perfect sized collar, with the perfect amount of buttons too. It is a two-tone design. And that is what I like. The smooth black look is finished with a darker black on the shoulders and then the two-toned crest matches the ‘errea’ and the sponsor’s logo. It’s well thought through. I understand Robbie Williams designed the shirt. Take That Nike and Adidas!
AFC Bournemouth (Third)
This is my favourite.
It may be simple, but it’s crisp, slick and stylish. When you’re on holiday, you’re all hot and sweaty. Then as you sit out by the beach in the beaming sun, you taste the luscious lemon Fanta, and suddenly, you’re fully refreshed. That is how this kit makes me feel. The white chest is clean and nice and the slightly off-coloured mint green is incredible. Together they make a subtle beauty. The neck is decent enough, the two-tone colour pallet works perfectly with the unique crest, the sponsor, the Umbro logo, the collar, the sleeves, and the shorts. I’ve said two-tone, I meant three-tone, as the sleeves are just that slightly different, lighter, shade. Somehow, and I am unsure why, but that adds something for me. Love it.
It is the definition of when you have refreshing mint Tic Tac.
Well then, they are MY favourite kits for this season. How do you rate your teams kit this season? Also, comment and tweet with your favourite shirt for this new season and I’ll give them a rate too.