Excuse the pun but it’s been a very odd couple of days in the football design world – particularly for DesignFootball.com. To give you a quick breakdown of events from my point of view, yesterday I saw a story on our sister/parent site Football Shirt Culture which featured a possible leaked image of a Liverpool change shirt due to be released for 2011/12. Yellow with what could be described as red chalkstripes (though each crucially was made up of adidas’s signature three), the shirt unquestionably referenced the yellow Umbro aways and adidas thirds from the 80s. But this shirt looked extra-familiar. Not only did I feel I had seen shirts like it before, but also like I had seen it before.
This morning (it’s been a long day, it’s actually past midnight now, but let’s pretend it’s still Wednesday) I logged on to msn and was met with a barrage of offline messages which directed me back to the FSC story. But now the story had been edited. Now it confirmed the shirt was a fake. The shirt was proved to be a fake because a comment revealed it to be a fully manufactured article created from the designs of DF member Steevo.
Steevo, as most regular visitors to DF will agree, is one of the most talented designers we’ve got. Specialising in creating kits for his beloved Liverpool FC, I for one accused him of being a “ringer” when he suddenly starting posting these works of genius on the (fast-approaching-10000-designs-strong) Fantasy Kit Designs on FSC. And since, many a time I have bemoaned the fact that – as it transpired - he isn’t actually working under the employ of the German sportswear giant and, it seemed, his designs would never see the light of day in fabric form.
But football design’s a funny old game. And the shirt, now seen on forums and newspages worldwide, such as Caught Offside and EPL Talk, exists. It’s fake, there’s no doubt. But there’s also no doubt that this item, being sold over and over on eBay as I type, is Steevo’s design. The three-striped chalkstripes, the Shankly Gate top on the back of the neck, the unusual sleeve cuff design, it’s all there. The collar colours have been switched but it’s barely noticeable, the crest is the current bête noir rather than the simple Liver Bird that Steevo prefers but this is just an attempt at replicating dour authenticity. It’s Steevo’s shirt.
So what does this mean? Has this come about through a mistake? Did someone from the South East Asian corner of this planet (where these articles certainly originate from) see the design on a forum, assume it had been leaked from adidas, and made it up from that, hoping to see the genuine shirt released and look virtually identical? Possibly, but I doubt it. I think this shirt has been created because the positive reaction to Steevo’s design put dollar signs in someone’s eyes. Who cares what the real designs end up looking like when people will buy this version now? Football (shirt) fans have many qualities but patience is seldom one of them. We want everything new and we want it immediately.
Let’s make it very clear, this is WRONG. The likes of adidas and Nike have had all kinds of human rights-related accusations thrown at them but there’s little doubt that the counterfeit sportswear industry often cares zero about working conditions, health & safety laws (if applicable) and fair pay. As interesting as this design is, and there should also be a (dis)honourable mention for the modern Newton Heath “Nike” shirt also being apparently sold as an alternative to genuine and official designs, not myself nor DF nor - I assume - the entirely innocent Steevo would condone this practice.
That said, flattery comes in many forms and though Zoran’s fantastic designs take pride of place on the header of the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs’ website and both Middlesbrough Futsal Club and Stafford Rangers have enlisted the help of DF members on their kit designs, Steevo’s realised design unwittingly tricking such a significant proportion of the world’s football blogging community is huge. It’s not how we envisioned it but amateur kit design just went big time.