The reveal of a new kit for any team is always a contentious subject among its fans. In recent years, it seems like brands have become way too comfortable with the fact that they can never please everyone so much so that they will pump out kits that fit their brand more rather than the team they outfit. This week, however, Umbro and Everton give us hope in seeing a complete shift in kit creation which transfers creative and branding power to the people most connected to the club itself.
I follow a number of sites devoted solely to soccer kits. When I read people’s comments, the running theme always seems to be how disconnected some brands are from the teams they sponsor. It is easy to see how this can happen. For one, a designer might not be fully knowledgeable about the team they are designing for. At the same time, a designer is also bogged down by the whims and desires of execs from both team and sponsor. Why these people have such overwhelming influence over a team’s most powerful branding element seems ridiculous to me now that I really think about it. It is more than obvious that the people most in tune with a club’s brand are its fans, therefore, it is their creative input that brands should be actively seeking and showcasing.
Umbro and Everton have done exactly that. Brainstorming with fans over a 15 month period, the two present a kit that can really be considered truly Everton, as well as one of the upcoming season’s premier kits.
The fan input and the difference it has made is more than apparent. In past years, Everton’s kits have been problematic for a couple of reasons. First, Umbro chose templates that were probably not the best choice. While that could be overlooked, the biggest problem that I always saw was the accent colors that Umbro used for the signature blue Everton home jersey. This year’s kit simplifies things for the better. Keeping things white and blue, which are rightly the only Everton colors, Umbro gives us a retro-inspired design that looks to be a win-win for both sides.
Umbro seems to finally get over the identity crisis that I saw in its recent Everton kits. Ironically, it is the fans and not the execs in the team’s front office that remind the brand exactly why Everton chose Umbro in the distant past, and why it has chosen it again for the team’s near future. The design is a perfect balance of both brands. While the retro diamond taped sleeves might get all the attention, I think something can be said for the stylish collar as well as the heathered fabric which makes a simple blue jersey that much more interesting.
I really hope Everton fans will speak with their pockets for this kit. It is their pockets, after all, that will make the most convincing argument for kit sponsors to look more and more towards substantial and consistent fan input. My pocket is already spoken for so you can be sure that I’ll be adding this kit to my own collection. Let me know what you think of this kit and where you stand on Everton’s fan’s input in the creative process.