Posted by Jay29ers in Untagged
The new England away shirt has been available for quite a while now but this afternoon the side will turn out in all red against Slovenia and the combination’s supposed talismanic qualities (1962 World Cup etc) will be put to the test. By the time you read this you’ll probably know how they fared – dare I say it, maybe even whether or not England’s World Cup 2010 has been a success. About time myself and fellow DesignFootball.com reviewer curswine put it through its paces…
Review 1 - Jay
So the new England away shirt. I’ve already bleated on about how great the current home is, how important a release a red England away is and how impressive Nike and Umbro are in marketing such items, but how good really is this jewel in the British manufacturer’s crown?
First impressions, it’s simple. We knew it would scream 1966 and it doesn’t disappoint. It has as many World Cup failure connotations as Bobby Charlton’s head has strands of hair (ie. none) and is as red as the mist that must have surrounded Jimmy Greaves when Moore and co lifted M. Rimet’s trophy. But - and designer Aitor Throup will remind you of this - it’s actually based on the generic Azteca design from the 60s and 70s. Accordingly, it has, get this, white cuffs!
When you get a little closer you can see that it is something more than just a throwback (designers surely couldn’t command their salaries if that was the case). Yes indeed, it’s made of only a few oddly shaped pieces of different fabrics stitched together to optimise flexibility, movement and body temperature when worn. Apparently these different pieces of fabric are all slightly differently coloured but forgive me for not really detecting a change at each seam in the replica version. Perhaps this is simply my ultra-modern geosociologically colourblind view of border controls in microcosm. Perhaps not. So this bit fits into that bit and then this bit goes across here and then the shirt is comple- Oh, to aid flexibility even more they had to put in two extra little bits just below the shoulder blades. Hmmm.
As you may be getting from this, the shirt is neither one thing nor the other. They could have made a modern kit but they chose, like with the home, to add modern touches to a classic instead. What Umbro forgot was that whilst the 50s shirts they took inspiration from for the white strip were actually pretty cool, the ’66 shirt was solely iconic due to its historical significance and as a design piece didn’t quite have enough. This shirt has even been created with a push towards players moving away from short sleeved versions with base layers and instead choosing this supposed hybrid in long-sleeved. Obviously Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe didn’t attend that meeting before debuting the kit against Egypt.
But what is it like to wear? Firstly, if you usually wear a Small, DO NOT get Umbro’s “equivalent” 36” chest (“Tailored” you see?). It’ll look tight and will betray the eating habits of the dietarily-challenged. Get a size up. But does that explain the pointy uppy bits on the upper back reported by many and that I also experienced? Possibly, but the shoulders not falling flat on such a hi-tech item is worrying. Aside from this it seems to do everything you’d want from modern-day performance technology; not restrictive, not too hot, not too cold etc.
Don’t get me wrong, the crest is beautiful, the Umbro logo is thankfully understated and the shirt is no doubt wonderfully practical for the modern day footballer without looking like a Terminator costume. But, frankly, we saw all that with the home. Umbro, that joke isn’t funny anymore.
PS: The shorts and socks don’t warrant much mention, as basic as they are (something about longer at the front to aid knee flexing. Whatever), but it’ll be fun to see England sporting Liverpool’s colours later. The shorts look better in red. On that profound note...
Review 2 – curswine
He goes on a bit doesn’t he? The new England away shirt is a masterpiece. The most important day in the Three Lions’ history was the day they wore the famous red shirt to defeat West Germany at Wembley. This release is a modern interpretation of a design classic that not only pays its dues but also holds its own against other international team kits.
1966 shouldn’t be forgotten and is rightly respected here. The red star above the crest may not stand out but does pay tribute to the heroes of 44 years ago in a way that shouldn’t put too much pressure on our current squad. The ’66 kit IS a classic and Umbro are right to revive it.
As for the different materials used, these add depth to a kit that otherwise would come across as somewhat basic. Umbro’s design teams have worked very hard to ensure that each carefully tested section carries out its purpose to perfection and link with each other to make a whole shirt that performs brilliantly for the stars that wear it. The smaller sections on the shoulder blades allow freedom of movement that otherwise wouldn’t be possible in a similarly fitted design. For the players it will mean they don’t get held back by a poorly fitting shirt and for the fans it’s a really comfy top to watch the games in.
It could be said the shirt suffers from the comparisons to the Azteca and 1966 rather than relying on them. As much as it is retro it also has everything you’d want in a 2010 release and can be judged against any other modern shirt. That is, if you get the right size. It’s not Umbro’s fault if we’re not as slim as we used to be and I found none of the “pointy uppy bits” that people have supposedly mentioned.
Regarding the push towards new Umbro shirts combining the outer garment with the popular base layers, Rooney and Defoe may have worn the short-sleeved type with base-layers against Egypt but Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips wore long sleeves and both scored. So maybe long-sleeved shirts are going to become more popular again.
Overall Umbro have created another great kit. If you look closely at the crest, the finer detailing is lovely and the Lions and roses have never been so beautifully defined. The whole attention to detail means the shirt looks great on the pitch but also close up and fills you with pride when you pull it on.
Whether wearing white or red, Fabio Capello’s men will be sure their kit performs well and looks good. This afternoon the classy red shorts with a white stripe will be worn with the red shirt and red socks. The crest on the shorts is all white rather than fully coloured like on the shirt and this is another subtle touch that adds to how classy the look is.
Bill Shankly famously sent out Liverpool in all red in the sixties to intimidate the opposition and they never looked back. Hopefully this great kit will be as effective against Slovenia and England will get the victory they need whilst looking the part. C’mon England!