Football jerseys have become an unexpected element of streetwear. For proof, look no further than Patta’s growing collection of kits. And while retro football jerseys are what the fashion crowd reappropriates most commonly, contemporary jerseys are beginning to catch on as well, with kit-makers such as Nike, adidas, and PUMA increasingly looking to design jerseys that look good both on the pitch and in the street.
During the last World Cup, Nike’s Nigeria home jersey became a must-have, selling out much to the surprise of those who only know the Super Eagles as a team that occasionally burns brightly but often underachieves. The hunt for cool jerseys has also given smaller clubs such as Sweden’s AIK exposure via the release of highly limited and fashion-forward designs.
Not that all new jerseys are a hit or made for the streets. There are still plenty of garish misfires and uninspired by-the-numbers efforts. With that in mind, and with the European football season upon us, here we take a look at the best, worst, and most "WTF?" football jerseys brands have served up for 2019-20.
Although Arsenal haven’t had the best of times on the pitch in recent seasons, the North Londoners' away kit for the upcoming season is one of the best of 2019-20. The Gunners left PUMA this summer and went back to rival German sportswear giant adidas, and the Three Stripes has kept things nostalgic, recalling the away jersey it produced for 1992-93, known affectionately as the “bruised banana.”
Real Madrid Home
Real Madrid’s new home jersey is as regal as ever, pairing the club’s signature white with gold trim and detailing on the crest and shoulders. With a turbulent season behind them after the departure of star man Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus in 2018, Real Madrid will be hoping this new adidas jersey is followed by a turnaround in fortunes.
Manchester City Away
According to Manchester City and PUMA, this away kit is inspired by legendary nightclub The Haçienda, the Factory Records crew's hub of acid house and rave. The Haçienda was designed by Ben Kelly on the recommendation of Factory design guru Peter Saville, and with its mismatched color detailing on a black base, the jersey looks like it could just as easily have come from the mind of Chinatown Market’s Mike Cherman.
Kaizer Chiefs Home
Kaizer Chiefs’ new home jersey doesn't really look like a football kit, giving off slight modern rugby vibes, yet in this case it totally works. The Johannesburg, South Africa club's mesmerizing, optical illusion-like black and gold spiral design makes this kit even crazier than Nigeria’s 2018 effort.
Juventus’ new home jersey does away with the club's signature bianconeri stripes and goes for a half-and-half look with a slim pink stripe separating the black half from the white. It might have rattled the traditionalists, but it’s wearable both on and off the field.
Whereas Juventus have gone in a new direction, Ajax have stuck to the tried and trusted. A thick red stripe runs down the center of the torso, with white accents either side. Classic Ajax. One marker of a good kit is when the sponsor doesn’t look out of place, which is certainly the case here.
AC Milan Home
Milan's rossoneri stripes are iconic, and PUMA has stayed true to the club's classy look. In the past, kit manufacturers have opted for thicker stripes, but this more pinstripe-like effort definitely catches the eye.
Italy’s Sampdoria are part of an elite tier of clubs whose kits are so iconic that little needs to be changed year after year (see: River Plate, Boca Juniors, Ajax). Quite simply, a roundup of the season's best football jerseys wouldn't be complete without the Genoa club.
Italy is synonymous with style, so it’s no coincidence that four Serie A teams are on this list. And Fiorentina's 2019-20 effort is about as classy as they come. The Florentine club continues its relationship with iconic sportswear brand Le Coq Sportif this season and their shirt has gone sponsorless, making this viola jersey a must-have.
As we know, six-time Swedish champions AIK have had some banging special-edition jerseys over the past 12 months. This mainline home jersey is just as sleek, putting bright yellow accents on a stealthy black base.
Gray jerseys are never the best idea — just ask Manchester United. New Balance and Celtic have tried to offset the tedium by adding a random shocking pink chevron in a place that is sure to be unforgiving to those among us not built like professional athletes. Luckily, it’s only the third kit, so it's unlikely the Hoops will be wearing this abomination often.
Hull City Home
We've been here before. Hull City, aka the Tigers, and Umbro have decided to put claw marks/tiger stripes across the shoulders of club's bright orange jersey. Eye-catching, yes; a potential cult classic in 20 years, maybe; but right now it’s just too damn bold for a club that finished mid-table in the English second tier last season.
Nike has experimented with the Catalan giants' home jersey over the years, sometimes ditching Barca's signature stripes for a half-and-half design. But this check look is new territory and it doesn't really work. But at least Barcelona's Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic will feel at home.
Like Hull’s jersey, this could easily become a classic somewhere down the line. But for us right now, the gradient effect gives us more of a Windows Media Player visualization vibe.
Eintracht Frankfurt Home
Frankfurt’s home kit only features three colors — black, white, and red — but its multi-striped look kind of gives us a headache, especially when a section is blocked off in black to make the sponsor stand out. Indeed.
While we appreciate an attempted return to ’90s-style all-over tonal prints, the collage graphic, supposedly inspired by Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium, looks more like the Marvel Studios graphic you see before an Avengers movie than something that should be on a football jersey.
Inter Milan Home
Inter would have been better off taking the same route as rivals AC Milan and keeping things simple. This shirt's bizarre off-kilter stripes under the sponsor make us feel drunk.
Manchester City Third
After the success of their away kit, Manchester City and PUMA have gone for a bright gradient on this third kit that we're calling the "Pina Colada." Let’s put it this way: the players won’t have any excuses for not spotting a teammate while wearing this, which looks like the sort of high-vis gear airport workers wear.