Swansea City have revealed their new home and away strips, plus a new shirt sponsor, for the 2013-14 season, and are about to earn a healthy dose of retro-tinged respect (from me at least).
When Swansea reached the Premier League, they struck a new kit supplier deal with Adidas, having previously partnered with Umbro. The switch was sold to the fans with a spoonful of nostalgia, Adidas having been the Swans' kit supplier the last time they were in the top flight.
Unfortunately, a kit deal with Adidas chains a team to the notorious Adidas template system. Given Adidas' ubiquity throughout the sport, it only takes one or two bad templates from the German giants to consign entire seasons to the dustbin of decent design.
I was not a big fan of the Swans' inaugural Premier League strips, especially the awful away uniform (although for reasons other than the design itself). Last season was a rare win-win for both home and away designs, and each were so good I honestly think they'll be sorely missed, especially the awesome Welsh away kit.
Anyway, a new season means a new design and a new sponsor. The Swans bought themselves out of the final year of their previous sponsorship deal with online gaming company 32red to partner with Chinese financial services provider Goldenway. With a name like that, they would have made a perfect fit for last season's golden-trimmed centenary kit, but instead have perhaps come up a day late and a dollar short, which is ironic given their line of business. Regardless, here are the new strips :
If nothing else, the clean and slightly alien lines of the new sponsor logo add a touch of Asian futurism to the shirts, which is especially great if you're a Blade Runner fan. Apparently, Port Talbot, the steelworks on the outskirts of Swansea, partly inspired Ridley Scott's celluloid dystopia in the first place, which makes for a particularly relevant if possibly apocryphal bit of trivia.
Beyond the sponsor logo, the kit itself is not without flaws. The most glaring are the bold black slashes on the sleeves. I'm secretly hoping they will give the impression of wings when in motion, and therefore justify their inclusion, but that's a reach.
I'm also not crazy about the thin curved strip separating the chest from the rest of the shirt. It's superfluous and only seems to make the players look like they're slightly overweight. Perhaps it's an act of strategic body-con designed to lull the opposition into a false sense of security?
It's amazing to me that any shirt supplier should struggle to provide a side like Swansea with a great shirt every season. There are few sides in world football who play in all white. It's a simple, classic idea perfectly mapped to the name of both team and city. This is not a side with a nondescript ten-a-penny colour scheme which needs substantial work to stand out each season. There's no need for extra detail.
All I ever want for Swansea is the shirt equivalent of, say, white leather mono Converse trainers. Simple, clean, pure. You can't spell 'pure class' without the word 'pure', and dirtying up a white shirt with black patches just seems like a great way to miss a sitter.
Anyway, it's close. The shorts and socks are about as close to plain white as can be expected given Adidas want their own branding to be visible. If it were up to me, I'd plum for plain white shirts and I'd make all the trim -- including the Adidas stripes -- that slightly brighter shade of white you can see in the horrible chest stripe. Then you would have a completely (albeit two-tone) white strip. Adidas would never have the guts, but I bet it would be memorable.
Speaking of memorable, how about that away strip! It's incredible. It's the old school LA Kings all over again. Or the present-day Lakers if you prefer. It's easy for teams to go for garish and miss entirely, or eschew garish for sedate and still end up with an ugly, unmemorable kit. But for me, the Swans have pushed the brave dial to 10 and picked out a retro classic.
I'm not oversold on the wonky zig-zag on the chest, but I can't fault the colour scheme. Banana shorts! Craven Cottage, White Hart Lane, and possibly one or two other grounds, do not adjust your television sets. #donotgogentleswans, indeed.