The journalist Jeff Maysh, regulars on our Facebook Page will be aware, has written a piece deriding fan-designed football kits and bigging up the skills of the "highly paid professionals" at Under Armour. An interesting read, no doubt, but it made me wonder if a little bit of balance was required.
Firstly, to a significant extent, I agree. This is still a golden age for football kit design, the manufacturers largely know what they're doing and the likes of the new Liverpool Away and Third kits are outliers, whilst last year's Liverpool Home, albeit popular, stank of being restrained by the fans' opinions being religiously adhered to. So fan input = bad, generally, but the mention of those Liverpool change kits in Maysh's article is noteworthy.
If we are to admit that occasionally the manufacturers get it wrong, then surely the same has to be said for the fans. Whilst I'm in agreement that the fan forum fantasy kits are often of a poor standard, Maysh's stance implies a favouring of professional kit design over its amateur equivalent as a whole. It sounds logical, but his argument is undermined through the examples he gives.
To illustrate his point, Maysh contrasts the new Tottenham Hotspur kits for 2013-14 - very nice they are too - with, via a link, some fan designs which pre-date the previous season's outfits. They're not fantastic, granted, but neither are they pertinent, nor genuinely reflective of the talent which does exist in the amateur world. For that, we have a better example, a recent competition on DF which has the odd very interesting entry, certainly in light of recent events. Even if we want to stick to a fan of a particular club designing kits for his beloved, then the Steevo Collection still has legs.
Equally, the denim Olympique de Marseille Away shirt Maysh refers to can be accepted as a fan input failure - though I'm a little ashamed to admit it's actually growing on me - but is its significance not canceled out by the similarly delivered and achingly classy Fourth kit of 2011-12? And as for the LA Galaxy shirt, well, yeah, I've got nothing. But, again, they're outliers. High profile but outliers nonetheless. In fact, the “Colouring-in time at the nuthouse” idea of fantasy kit design is way off the mark. The tragedy of football fans' average ideal is that it decrees that kits should be kept plain, simple, boring.
Far be it for me, though, to question Jeff Maysh's knowledge. He's an award-winning LA-based journalist and, as he says, he's "[written] two books about Spurs shirts, like some kind of club megastore Rain Main" which, whilst I'd rather not explore his insinuation of autism, come highly recommended - though I've personally read neither. There's no doubting his credentials, just the journey he's made to come to such a damning conclusion.
Intriguingly, he actually makes the argument in the pros corner that the Spurs kit designer, Gabriel Rodriguez, "is obsessive about Tottenham shirts, like me". And that's a good thing why? I mean, I agree, but doesn't that suggest fandom, of Jeff Maysh-proportions, of the club and the art, is a plus?
On the whole, the article acts as a great - unintended and unsolicited, we're sure - advert for Under Armour. And good luck to them, as a Liverpool fan I'd take them over Warrior in a heartbeat, but, most tellingly, Jeff Maysh bookends his case with references to the Tottenham Hotspur legend Paul Gascoigne - currently desperately ill with alcoholism. The analogy, if I understand it correctly, concerns Gascoigne's desire to amateurishly involve himself in the negotiations with the fugitive Raoul Moat during the latter's 2010 standoff with Northumbria Police. I guess the assertion is that he should have left it to the professionals, which, as analogies to prove a point go, is an interesting one.
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