Home Business of Soccer Football fashionistas: We rate the new MLS kits

Football fashionistas: We rate the new MLS kits


impact_thirdFRONT(FORMATTED)Judging from the readership numbers — which spike every time we put up a story about new kits, redesigned kits, anything to do with kits — we’ve surmised that, to be a Canadian soccer fan, you have to be a bit of a fashionista.

If someone could create a tour of soccer stadiums and fashion weeks around the world, it’s be a smashing business.

But kits are important to fans. They want to be proud to wear the club’s colours. They want the road kits to be sharp. And marketers love it, because soccer kits change seasonally. Adidas gives us new MLS kits at almost the same pace as Marc Jacobs introduces new fashion lines.

With MLS creating a “Jersey Week,” where many MLS teams  revealed or will reveal their new kits at special events or, as they are known outside of the sports world, “fashion shows,” we thought it would be fun to play Vogue. That is, give you a one-stop look at the new kits, with our, ahem, expert commentary. With all three Canadian teams putting their new kits out there, we thought it would be fun to look at the best, the worst, the exciting and the boring of what’s already out there.

Just as a disclaimer — The 11‘s editor HAS judged fashion shows before. Seriously.

We’ll start with the Canadian teams:

TFC_primaryfront(FORMATTED)Toronto FC Home Kit
It’s all red, save for the stylized maple leaf that’s been embedded into the front of the shirt. As a Canadian living outside of Toronto, I have mixed feelings about pro teams using national symbols. I’m not big on Canadian flags being sewn in the arms of jerseys.
On one hand, great to show us your sense of Canadian pride. But it also comes off as very arrogant, as if the team thinks of itself as the only show in Canada.
Is it nice? Sure. Would I buy one? Living in Edmonton and wearing a shirt like that makes it look like you are a Toronto show-off or, possibly, a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada. Albertans tend to be more tolerant of the first (because so many were born in Ontario) but the second is, well…
Cool factor: 2/5
Irony factor: 5/5

VAN_primaryFRONT(FORMATTED)Vancouver Whitecaps Home Kit
The lines move diagonally rather than straight across.
It’s hard to think of a team making a more minor change and calling it new. After just two years in MLS, it’s hard to justify a major redesign.
Cool factor: 3/5
Irony factor: N/A

Montreal Impact Alternate Kit (Pictured at top of article)
The arguments will be: “Does it look like Inter?” or “does it look like Atalanta?”
Doesn’t matter, it’s a nice, restrained homage to the team’s 1990s kit, and a reminded to MLS newbies that this team was around for a lot longer than many MLS teams.
It’s classy, understated and should be the regular home kit. The blue and black stripes haven’t been seen in MLS in a while, and it speaks to the uniqueness of the club and its culture.
Cool factor: 5/5
Irony factor: None. Nothing cheesy about this at all.

coloradoSECOND(FORMATTED)Colorado Rapids Alternate Jersey
Barry Beck. Pat Hickey. Hardy Astrom. Don Cherry pulling the strings. The Rockies are back!
In the U.S., where hockey isn’t as big a deal as it is in Canada, there won’t be as many people drawing comparisons to this shirt and the old Colorado Rockies jerseys. But in Canada, where most of us still equate “Colorado Rockies” to the NHL team that moved to Jersey, not the baseball team or the reference to the mountains, most of us will look at this and wonder what Wilf Paiement is doing right now. Could almost see someone stopping in at a Canadian sports store and thinking this is NHL merchandise.
Yes, we know it’s based on the flag of Colorado. Still, it screams 1979 to me. Which is sorta cool.
Cool factor: 4/5
Irony factor: 50,000/5

LA_awayWITHSTARSLos Angeles Galaxy Road Kit
What’s changed? Well, the shiny stars you get for winning MLS Cup are now, well, shinier. There is some promo bumpf about quasars, and how the stars mimic them. This means that if the shuttlecraft Galileo comes near the Galaxy kit, it will no longer be able to communicate with the Enterprise. I hope for nebulas next season.
Cool factor: 1/5
Irony factor: 5/5

SEA_home(FORMATTED) Seattle Sounders Kits
The Sounders have dropped the neon colours and that silver-grey strapping that criss-crossed all over the jerseys. Whew. They don’t look like lacrosse jerseys anymore!
While the team still has the Xbox Green as its main colour, it’s more muted and doesn’t make you look like you just visited Homer at the Springfield nuclear plant. Much improved. But, really, they weren’t going to get worse after last year — would have been impossible.
Cool factor: 4/5
Irony factor: 1/5

skc_primary(FORMATTED)Sporting Kansas City Home Kit
Could compete with the Impact for the nicest of the new kits. The light-blue/dark-blue colour scheme is a winner, and this new design is attractively asymmetrical. They could have gone all Blackburn and split the kit up the middle, but this homage to a two-state fan base is subtle. Would also look OK on the golf course. Classy. Well done.
Cool factor: 5/5
Irony factor: 0/5

dynamo_secondary Dynamo1(FORMATTED)Houston Dynamo Kits
In case you needed a reminder of where to find Houston on the map, the jerseys now have Texas flags sewn in. The white road kits look to have more of an orange-yellow colour, something I haven’t seen since I had my last Laurentian pencil crayon set. Orange is very cool, the new black, at least when it comes to soccer. Barcelona’s road kit, Houston and half the NASL looks like the Dutch national team.  Overall, a safe redesign.
Cool factor: 2/5
Irony factor: 2/5


New York Red Bulls Kits
The changes are so miniscule that these don’t really need to be shown to you. Basically, it’s the same kit as before. And that makes sense, because the jersey is designed to help sell energy drinks. When your jersey looks like the product it’s meant to endorse, you aren’t going to reinvent the wheel.
Cool factor: 1/5
Irony factor: 0/5

PHI_tertiary(FORMATTED)Philadelphia Union Alternate Jersey
The many shades of blue and gold that the Union uses on its striped kits have been replaced by a black kit, which is an homage to the Bethlehem Steel team that existed before the Second World War. Black kits look awesome, but ask players on a sunny July day, when it’s 30 C outside and the sun is beating down, how much they love wearing  black kits. Still, it does have an Orlando Pirates/New Zealand rugby feel to it, and sometimes less is more.
Cool factor: 4/5
Irony factor: 2/5


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One Comment

  1. brian bontrager

    March 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Just a little correction,you wrote, ‘ The blue and black stripes haven’t been seen in MLS in a while, and it speaks to the uniqueness of the club and its culture.’ well the correct phrasing is ‘ speaks of’ not ‘speaks to’. The correct phrasing suggests that you are in fact referring to, in this case, the uniqueness of the club and it culture.

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