Nige­ria’s bright, trippy uni­forms a hit among World Cup unis

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

SPAIN, your asym­me­try is show­ing. Nige­ria, you’re so bright I need shades! Croa­tia, Rus­sia’s fresh out of Big Boy restau­rants. No wor­ries, though, your party duds will be just the ticket once the World Cup gets un­der­way June 14. Those coun­tries are among sev­eral of the more fes­tive stand­outs in jer­seys for the global soc­cer show­case, with loads of sen­ti­men­tal touches in the de­signs of the 32 teams. With mil­lions in ex­po­sure and re­tail sales at stake, the World Cup kits of 2018 can be cat­e­gorised, gen­er­ally speak­ing, like this: Team Plain, Team Retro and Team Cool Kid on the Pitch. “We didn’t used to care so much,” said Roger Ben­nett, who is half the wacky Bri­tish duo of the “Men in Blaz­ers” soc­cer show on NBC Sports. “What’s changed is the fu­sion of the World Cup and the Pre­mier League and the Cham­pi­ons League and tele­vi­sion as a global platform, and ad­ver­tis­ing, which has es­sen­tially trans­formed them from be­ing just func­tional gar­ments, noth­ing to see here, just polyester, ev­ery­body move along, to the sin­gle-most lu­cra­tive bill­board in the world,” he said. “They may as well be spun from gold in terms of the im­pact that they have on the sports manufacturing brands that pro­pel them.” Or, in the case of Aus­tralia, gold with a riot of jagged lines on shoul­ders and sleeves of home jer­seys. The al­gae green lines cel­e­brate waves and the coun­try’s prox­im­ity to var­i­ous oceans and seas, said Nike foot­ball ap­parel se­nior de­sign di­rec­tor Pete Hop­pins. The away kit is all green with a di­ag­o­nal slash of yel­low and lighter green touches on the front, in trib­ute to Aus­tralia’s 2006 jer­seys . Soc­cer fans have been buzzing for weeks about Nige­ria’s shirts, to the de­light of sup­plier Nike but not so much among folks back home who con­sider the $85 price tag out of reach . The away shirts are a screech­ing bright green, white and black with trippy jagged edg­ing on a chevron pat­tern that may just be the World Cup’s shin­ing Rorschach mo­ment, along with an ode to the coun­try’s style and pop cul­ture en­ergy. The we-have-ar­rived look is a mod­ern rein­ven­tion of Nige­ria’s 1994 kits, the first time the coun­try qual­i­fied for the World Cup. The new shirts sold out in min­utes on the first day of sales in some spots, in­clud­ing Nike’s flag­ship store in London and on­line, Hop­pins said, af­ter stakeholders de­cided early on to go bold and mar­ket the strips in a col­lec­tion that also in­cludes hats, T-shirts and jack­ets. “We’ve never seen any­thing like this be­fore in terms of ex­cite­ment, in terms of peo­ple queu­ing around the block,” Hop­pins said, re­fer­ring to the crowd that showed up June 1. “It’s some­thing that Nike has never re­ally done be­fore, which is go­ing all out and hav­ing fun with it. We want Nige­ria to be every­one’s sec­ond team.” To Si­mon Doo­nan, soc­cer nut and cre­ative ambassador at large for Bar­neys New York, when it comes to out-there World Cup shirts, you’re ei­ther in or you’re out. “The ones you re­mem­ber are the ones that are crazy, but some leagues are risk averse,” said Doo­nan, au­thor of the new book “Soc­cer Style: The Magic and Mad­ness.” “The World Cup is a car­ni­val. It’s not sup­posed to be a bea­con of re­straint and good taste,” he said. Doo­nan’s fa­vorites on the flam­boy­ant front: Croa­tia’s red-and-white checker­board, rem­i­nis­cent of the coun­try’s flag and me­dieval coat of arms — and, some say, — the Big Boy burger chain (Nike); Colom­bia’s red-and-blue light­ning bolts com­ing out of the armpits against a bright yel­low back­ground (Adi­das); and Bel­gium’s hor­i­zon­tal dash of red-and-yel­low Ar­gyle, like the socks (also Adi­das). Doo­nan is also a fan of ver­ti­cal stripes (hello, Ar­gentina in blue and white, just like your flag and your kits from your 1978 World Cup win). There are some jer­seys he’s not hugely fond of as a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence. “I’m very ob­sessed with sym­me­try, in life and in my work, so the Spain shirt, even though I’m a

Pho­tos: AP

A man stands in front of a Nige­rian na­tional soc­cer team jersey is on dis­play at a shop in London.

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