Before the new season begins, all the clubs line up with their stars posing in their latest colors and stripes. As for my favorite club, I along with millions others worldwide, have long awaited the kit of Manchester United. As per fan polls, the response for the new kit has been lukewarm and many seemingly don’t approve of a really simple kit like this, when others teams have got all the glitter and glamour. But here is a brief history about the Gingham design being sported by the club.
‘Gingham’? – A brief history
Gingham is a medium-weight balanced plain woven fabric made from dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarn.The name originates from an adjective in Malay, genggang, meaning striped and came into English hands via Dutch. During expansion of the European colonies, it was imported into Europe in the 17th century and came to be distinguished by its checkered pattern.
Connection with the city of Manchester-The industrial rise.
From the mid 18th century, Gingham pattern was widely produced by the mills of Manchester and it started to be woven into checkered and plaid out patterns (often blue and white). Gingham, in its checked pattern, became widely popular, with its striped variant a vintage item for most.
What basically connects the two is this: During the industrial revolution, demand of fabrics along with other commodities had a boom, and Manchester, along with its hard working labour-class occupants, who worked day in and day out to dress the masses, basically produced these patterns on handkerchiefs and curtains. Kids especially used to don these colors as it looked cute and bright on them. Hence Manchester, with its mills chocking smoke, became synonymous with fabric and gingham. It symbolized Manchester’s rise to power in the field of clothing.
Why has it been adopted this season on both the home and away jerseys?
The new kit pays homage to the industrial culture and past of Manchester. I would like to quote Nike’s press release which goes as below:
“Manchester United Football club’s success has been founded on the traditional values of respect and hard work. Those values are what made Manchester the city it is and from the mid 18th century the cotton mills there were prolific in the industry.
“From those mills came the gingham fabric, an iconic check that like Manchester United is famous around the world and is now – for the first time – used on a Manchester United home shirt.
“The tonal gingham in traditional and iconic red gives the home shirt a bold new look. The black v-neck collar gives the shirt a contemporary look. The inner back neck graphic on the shirt reads, ‘Forged in Industry, Striving for Glory’; paying tribute to the cities industrial past but also the club’s hard-working ethos.”
Technicalities of the new kit
Nike’s ground breaking innovation in sportswear always gets accolades as it gives the teams the most technologically advanced kits to aid athlete’s comfort and performance, besides the added style which comes along.
According to the website http://www.footballshirtculture.com, here is a detailed technical analysis of the kit:
The new home kit is made from Nike’s recycled polyester, making it Nike’s most environmentally friendly kit ever produced. Each kit (shirt and shorts) is made using up to thirteen recycled plastic water bottles. This innovative manufacturing process reduces energy consumption by up to 30%, compared to manufacturing traditional polyester. Since 2010, Nike has used an estimated 1115 million recycled plastic bottles to create its high performance kits.
The kits are made out of 23% lighter fabric with 20% stronger knit structure than Nike’s previous kits and feature Nike Dri-FIT technology to wick moisture away from athletes to help keep them cool and dry on-pitch.
Kits have bonded re-enforced t-bar junctions that support critical seams on the shirt and shorts and inner welded seams with a flat finish construction to improve comfort and performance. Temperature regulation is helped by ventilation zones, consisting of a series of tiny laser cut holes from the under arms to the waistband, allowing air to circulate to keep players comfortable.
Player’s and Fan’s reactions to the newly introduced kits
As it was expected, the reaction to the unveiling of this kit has been mixed. While fans at Manchester have been enthralled how Nike has touched the soft corner of its people and their sentiments with this acts, most have been found condemning it as “tablecloth” and “towel” like looks, much to the annoyance of the creators. Here is what some eminent players, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand have to say about it:
Fans, more so the rivals, have flooded Twitter, football forums and Facebook and have left no stone unturned to pour scorn on the new design, making jokes about the kit as resembling handkerchiefs and tablecloths. Some fans even expressed their concern over the fact that it may even prevent new signings from arriving into Old Trafford.
Well, every new thing gets its share of likes and dislikes. So has this kit. But having a look at its historical significance and expertise of Nike, it definitely gets a thumbs up from me. And for those who feel it is really awkward to wear the colors, there are several youtube videos featuring the funniest kits ever made. Go have a look at them.
Do leave behind your opinions about the kit.