As the football World Cup draws to an end, we’re airing the dirty laundry on the teams’ kits. From the wildest brand designs to the safe choices, from the good to the downright ugly. The uniform is so much more than a piece of clothing; it is a symbol of identity, pride and passion. We’re rolling up our sleeves to investigate the kits of the World Cup 2018.
The uniforms of the World Cup 2018 have sparked major debate. Some have inspired fashion-lines, while others have inspired revulsion. Either way, the emotions associated with them are usually as passionate as the teams (and countries) they represent. We’re exploring the brands, sponsorships and kits that are making us a little hot under the collar.
The brands and sponsorship
Not surprisingly, Adidas and Nike dominate, designing twelve and ten World Cup kits respectively. They also provide the largest sponsorships. Semi-finalists Belgium are among the Adidas camp, with Germany and Spain receiving the best Adidas deals (pocketing a cool $30 million each). A staggering three of the four semi-finalists are clothed by Nike. France has the best deal, with an impressive $54 million, while England comes in second, with $46 million received annually from the Nike brand.
Puma has kitted out four teams in total, with Uruguay being their most notable. New Balance provides the uniforms for Costa Rica and Panama. Umbro, Errea and Uhlsport clothe one team each, with Denmark being one of the few teams to keep it in-house, kitted out by local brand Hummel.
The good, the bad and the ugly
There is much debate over which teams sported the best and worst kits. However, the one that garnered the most attention is undoubtedly Nigeria’s, which sold out in minutes once made available to the public. The black, white and neon green chevron shirts even inspired a popular Nike fashion-line.
Based on public opinion, one of the best kits is that of Croatia. The semi-finalists sported their classic red and white checkerboard motif but reimagined with modern styling. Could their powerful uniform have anything to do with their success? Reigning champions Germany appear in many best-dressed lists. While their shirts seem radically different to recent years, the chevron icon harkens back to the design of their 1990 West-Germany side, which took the cup that same year. The diagonal, sash-like stripe of Peru and the bright colours of Australia have also received mostly positive reviews.
In a sea of boring red shirts, Tunisia, Costa Rica and Switzerland are among the dullest. Even semi-finalist England’s kit has been accused of being unimaginative. However, there is debate as to whether strong symbolism or subtle continuity have some effect on both audience reaction and player performance. Check the kits in action in this post about World Cup game changers, who can really make a difference.
But none of these is any match for uniforms that are considered ugly by both critics and the public alike. The garish yellow of Sweden and Spain’s shirts have sparked debate, while Uruguay’s soft blue and casual styling has left fans perplexed. But the consensus is that Japan takes the 2018 cup for the ugliest kit. Set on a dark blue, slightly glossy backing, the shirt mixes dashed light blue lines with solid black lines as a homage to ancient Japanese stitching techniques. While the concept is interesting, the outcome is less than aesthetically appealing. Rather than inspire, the pattern serves to distract.
While we have explored the good, the brands and the ugly of the World Cup 2018, most of the views expressed are based on popular opinion. Uniforms are so much more than a series of patterns and colours. They represent cultures, identity and pride.
While it may be a coincidence that Nike sponsor three of the four semi-finalists, it is no coincidence that team kits have been a source of debate every year. The shirts and the countries they represent are a symbol of passion and the primal emotions associated with winning. It is no wonder that any such conversation would leave us feeling a little bit hot under the collar.