Football kit design has shifted somewhat in recent years. There seems to be a trend now for bolder, more obvious design features, a notable example being the new Chelsea away shirt - though the more warmly received third also displays these characteristics.
Gone, apparently, are subtleties. Watermark patterns are rarely used; it's either a tiny Liver Bird recessed for the purposes of dissuading counterfeiters or a large and easily noticeable duplication of the crest, such as on the Scotland home shirt. It seems that any detail that cannot be spotted from a distance is regarded as a waste of time and effort.
The fact is, as much as I may bemoan it, the majority of adidas & Nike's target markets do not see their favourite club's shirt for the first time on Football Shirt Culture. No, they see it on tv. And piping, watermarks and 2mm coloured trim to collars don't show up on tv, even in the High Definition age.
The first time I noticed this progression was in 2008 when Nike released a tribute to the 1988-91 Arsenal Away shirt, as worn in the incredible end to the 1988-89 Division One title race, when The Gunners went to Anfield on the last day needing to win by two clear goals and they scored the vital clincher with just seconds remaining. The original shirt, by adidas, featured the most sparing use of red on the edges of the collar, stripes and sponsor and red piping at the join of main body and sleeves. This also featured a watermark. The tribute is devoid of any of this subtlety but on tv it looked great and did certainly bring back memories of '89 when Andrei Arshavin scored four to extinguish another Liverpool title challenge.
Nike is biggest culprit and has been for a few years, and now adidas seem to be following their lead. There are beautiful details on modern examples which we've never seen before and can only spot close-up, such as the multicoloured crosses on the back of the England home shirt, or the messages on the reverses of crests on Nike's range, but there are three perspectives on a football shirt: from a longer distance - watching the games from the stands or a sofa - spitting distance, if you will - along the bar in a pub - and the view of the wearer, looking down on the article they have on. The first and last are covered, the second is being neglected.
Player Issue shirts have long taken this approach. Bigger sponsors and crests, manufacturers' logos and adidas stripes printed rather than embroidered or stitched on. Now the design stage of the overall looks of new releases seem to be wholly geared towards marketing the shirt to the television audience, with the theory being that if the star player from forty yards and via a camera lens looks good then a fan will be sold on the idea. For the sake of aesthetics it may be a sad development but no doubt the money has started talking and, until it shuts up, we can kiss goodbye to the multi-layered designs of yore.