Has the dust settled yet? Juventus, the Old Lady of Italian football, and Italy’s most successful side domestically, have ditched their famous black and white stripes - bestowed by England’s Notts County, no less - not in favour of their original pink, which may have seemed a logical temporary measure, but to be replaced by black and white halves.
In fairness, there is some pink, in the form of a thin central stripe - just the one, mind - but the cruel demotion of Notts County from the Football League just as the Turin giants look their gift horse in the mouth really is darkly poetic. Light and dark-ly poetic. Chiaroscuro-ly poetic.
Anyway, there’s been a backlash. There’s always a backlash when a team makes a drastic change with their kit. I, however, am not particularly bothered. There are things, of course, because there are always things, but the broad shift I - whisper it - quite like.
It’s been covered on better blogs than mine - Museum of Jerseys has it here - but my general take is that an update is quite refreshing, and I like the pink stripe stuck in there, not least for this witty reference to the Turin giants’ “Zebras” nickname, and even if they remind me of a charcoal toothpaste packet I saw in Superdrug. The shift to stripes and the addition of pink is maybe unnecessarily two shirt concepts in one - see the 2018-19 Atletico Madrid Home kit - but I also quite like the narrative of the stripes being formed by the team as a whole, like they were by Southampton by a combination of their two kits in 2012-13 (as pointed out by MoJ).
Overall, I wonder how much all this matters. It’s already been reported that the stripes will return in 2020-21 and the colour proportions, like with Barcelona’s kit changes over the last quarter of a century, have stayed consistent enough to send a message of “Juve” to people watching on TV and in the ground(s).
Now, there’s extra leeway with Juventus, because they’ve alternated between kits which could be described as black with white stripes on the shirt, and white with black stripes on the shirt. With varying numbers and thicknesses of stripes; last season they had an Ajax-style single black stripe down the back! So how entrenched was the “classic” look, anyway? And which one was it?
This proportional flexibility has already allowed Juventus to wear their controversial new shirt with black shorts and socks, and white shorts and socks, and its season of use hasn’t even begun yet. Juve even wore a black baselayer on the black day, and a white one on the white day, despite having alternate sleeves, despite the hope the ambiguity of this picture gave me, and despite the fact that the bloomin’ rules have been changed! So it seems they won’t even have a consistent look in 2019-20, which is perhaps fitting, though I pray they won’t pull a St Mirren and have some players in black baselayers and others in white ones in the same game.
It’s all apparently an attempt to break into the American market, where black and white stripes means sporting officialdom. That’s a depressing and patronising logic, but the result doesn’t cause me sleepless nights. And teams who wear black and white stripes have form in this regard, like Newcastle United with white and blue backs, Udinese with all kinds of weird crap, and, as previously mentioned, Juventus themselves.
Twas ever thus. Teams change their Home “colours” periodically. Arsenal have had red sleeves, and even had a solid redcurrant shirt in 2005-06, for fatuous reasons, and Manchester United wore black shorts in 2018-19, to admittedly not insubstantial chagrin from many of their fans. Both of those clubs also now wear a different look to the look when they were formed. As do, again, Juventus.
Written by Jay (follow on Twitter).