The unveiling of new football kits at the beginning of each season is as exciting as it is nerve-racking. It may seem an innocuous part of the sport, but a team strip can embody the traditions, history and culture of an entire football club and its followers.
Unlike a crest, which often provides a much longer term connection to a club, a uniform represents a team for a full season. Countless designers and marketing professionals are hired to devise stylish yet meaningful attire players and supporters can wear with pride. Giant companies devote months of planning in an attempt to ensure kits look just right, and yet every so often fans end up with a disastrous final product.
Luckily for fans, they can choose whether to purchase the latest edition or hang on to a favorite from 10 years ago. However, thanks to six or seven-figure contracts between clubs and global clothing suppliers, players don’t share the same freedom. No matter how revoltingly colored, excessively complex or unbearably plain a kit might be, nothing can change the attire players are forced to model in front of thousands of people at stadiums and millions more via television.
Many clubs take pride in showcasing tradition, particularly through home kits. Think of Real Madrid: it would be a crime against football to dress the Spanish giants in anything but all-white at the Santiago Bernabeu. Other sides are more inclined to favor style over preexisting guidelines and will dress their players in whatever is required to grab attention.
Irrespective of the kind of values each club incorporates into its kit collection each season, team attire is a tricky garment to design without some form of backlash or ridicule from supporters and rivals fans alike.
Here are the top 15 worst football kits to be worn during the 2015-16 season.
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15 Dundee United
Few supporters hesitate to part with a few hours’ pay at the club shop to get their hands on the latest team strip in time for the new season. Unfortunately for fans of Scottish Premiership outfit Dundee United, £50 will buy a home shirt that looks barely more appealing than a plain orange t-shirt. Featuring only the standard Nike swoosh and a company logo on the torso and lower back, the stitched club badge is the only decoration that adds any shred of character to this otherwise lifeless kit. The Tannadice Park faithful are proud of their famous tangerine shirts and could be disappointed with their bland attire for the 2015-16 campaign.
14 Real Madrid
Perhaps even footballer-cum-supermodel Cristiano Ronaldo might struggle to make the new Real Madrid away strip look remotely fashionable. Veering well away from the elegant all-white home strip synonymous with the Spanish giants, Adidas has come up with an outlandish grey shirt with fluorescent yellow trim for the likes of James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema to wear on their travels during the 2015-16 season. The German manufacturer claims the kit is made of a high-tech cotton-like fabric, which could explain why it looks like the kind of get-up a teenage amateur might wear to training during the week.
If Tim Howard and his giant beard didn’t already make him stand out enough, his fancy new goalkeeper outfit is certain to prompt a few second glances during the 2015-16 campaign. The 36-year-old American will be dressed from head to toe in electric lemon attire, which is undoubtedly an improvement on the hideous camouflage kit he was forced to wear throughout 2011-12 season. Howard is unlikely to be the only human lantern between the sticks next season though; an increasing number of clubs are opting to ditch traditional colors in favor of dressing keepers in more radiant alternatives.
Introducing shirt buttons to football clothing is a risky business; they can offer a nice touch or send style completely out the window. Having recently entered a four-year partnership with Barnsley, Puma has tried adding a two-button placket to the 2015-16 home kit and ended up with something like a polo shirt an elderly man might wear on a hot day. Although the granddad collar styling is far from sophisticated, hats off to the German clothing giants for trying something different. Puma ought to get cracking on new ideas if it wants a better chance of winning over the Tykes supporters next season.
11 Manchester United
Manchester United has swapped Nike for Adidas after donning the iconic swoosh logo on its kits for the last 13 years. The Germans have designed many gorgeous strips for the Red Devils in years gone by, but supporters might be disappointed by what they have come up with for next season. Featuring a dull white v-neck and thick white cuffs on the sleeves, the 2015-16 home kit lacks the edge of the 80s and 90s strips worn by Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce and the like. However, will the Old Trafford crowd mind how the team is dressed when the club is raking in £750m over 10 years from its kit deal?
10 Stoke City
A sharp looking kit design does not guarantee a satisfying end product; that’s the hard lesson New Balance has learned in its first year as the kit supplier of Stoke City. The template for the Potters’ new away outfit is similar to the version Warrior produced last season, but the new manufacturer has made its mark early by switching up the color scheme for the 2015-16 Premier League campaign. A black away uniform needs only a touch of aesthetic quality to look remotely appealing, and yet New Balance inexplicably chose a pine green sash to pay tribute to club tradition.
9 Manchester City
Remember the icky lime-yellow trim on the side of the Manchester City third shirt last season? Well, the bad news is it seems the dethroned Premier League champions have chosen to use it as the base color of the 2015-16 edition. The good news is the Citizens will only be wearing it when travelling abroad for European fixtures or in the unlikely event their contrasting home and away kits clash with other sides. Nike is usually pretty hard to fault as a kit manufacturer, but this effort looks more like a training shirt than the third strip of a Premier League heavyweight.
Given the lucrative financial agreements between football clubs and companies nowadays, it’s understandable for these backers to expect a place for their name or logo on the team kit. Most sides allocate one major sponsor to appear on the shirt torso and perhaps scatter a couple of others elsewhere. Montpellier, on the other hand, has thrown this notion to the wind. The French Ligue 1 outfit has no fewer than six different sponsors strewn over the front of its kit, ranging from gas companies to health insurance. The clutter of words and logos are an unfortunate distraction from the beautiful Montpellier crest.
7 Swansea City
Swansea City is widely admired for its classy all-white home strip, but Adidas has done a real number on the Welsh side’s 2015-16 away kit. It features a repulsive, clashing blend of harlequin green and dark blue hoops on the shirt and socks, while the shorts are an even nastier shade of lime. There’s nothing wrong with a club attempting to contrast its unelaborate home kit with a more offbeat away get-up, but this quite frankly the opposite of what makes the Swans’ home kit so attractive. It’s hard to imagine the look Adidas was going for with this effort.
It might be wise to remove all mirrors from the Boavista dressing room for the 2015-16 campaign. The Portuguese Primera Liga side’s home kit is covered in a dorky chessboard pattern and although a dreary gold torso replaces most of the black and white eyesore on the away version, the choice of color is likely to cause a stir among Os Axadrezados fans and rival supporters alike. It makes sense to base the kit design on the Boavista crest, but Italian manufacturer Errea seems to have failed the awkward task of making footballers look the business in checkered uniforms.
Valencia has done well to climb its way back from the brink of financial ruin, however clearly there’s still work to be done in the kit manufacturing department. Although fans of the resurgent La Liga side are unlikely to priorities the team shirt design over challenging Barcelona and Real Madrid for the title, the away outfit for the 2015-16 season could raise a few eyebrows. Adidas has attempted to incorporate the colors of the Valencian Community flag, the Senyera Coronada. Unfortunately the sentimental idea has backfired, and it looks more like the German company couldn’t decide whether to make the base color yellow, red or blue.
4 AC Milan
Early images of the new AC Milan third strip suggested Adidas would not be springing any surprises in the 2015-16 campaign. The dark green shirt somewhat conforms to the black attire the Rossoneri usually wear for trips abroad in European competition, but the rest of the get-up is reminiscent of a 90s goalkeeper kit. With his teammates wearing shorts that fade into an vibrant lime, red, blue and yellow cocktail, even Stephan El Shaarawy and his jagged mohawk could be rendered less distinct. It’s certainly a bold creation by the San Siro outfit, albeit one fans are unlikely to wear strolling through the streets of Milan.
3 FC Porto
Particularly enthusiastic footballers will insist they have no trouble wearing whatever is asked of them by their club. However, even the most steadfast individual would blush walking onto the pitch in FC Porto’s latest away kit by New Balance. The Primeira Liga giants will be dressed in cocoa brown – that’s right, brown – for away trips during the 2015-16 campaign. A daring creation, this kit is part of the first collection produced by the American manufacturer since Porto split with Nike at the end of last season. It may not offer any consolation, but at least the Estadio do Dragao faithful will have no trouble choosing whether to buy the home or away kit this year.
2 Seoul E-Land FC
Any franchise club wants to make a splash in its debut season via on-field attire, seemingly nowhere more so than South Korea. Seoul E-Land FC is the new kid on the block in the K League second division and likely to catch the eye regardless of how it fares in season one. The likes of Jamaican international Ryan Johnson and Carlyle Mitchell of Trinidad and Tobago will be kitted out in leopard print attire whether playing at home or on the road. Turning heads is exactly what this club wants, but surely there are alternatives to dressing players in what looks like an old lady’s pyjamas.
1 SK Brann
It seems Hummel has trumped clothing behemoths Adidas, Nike, Puma and Umbro in an attempt to optimize the weather resistance of football kits. Having asked the Danish company to design its 2015 home strip to ensure players can withstand the frosty conditions served up in Scandinavia, SK Brann players will be strutting around Norwegian pitches in a red and black get-up made entirely of rubber-latex. Despite totally disregarding style, rain, snow and wind will stand no chance against the creation Hummel is calling the “Fire Suit.” Although it’s an ingenious idea in theory, it’s probably too cold to be playing if the weather demands players to wear rubber.
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