Soccer jerseys, unlike the shirts of many major American professional sports, have a way of making the fans who wear them not look like clowns.
I mean this sincerely and in no disrespect towards jerseys of NFL, NBA, MLB and/or NHL teams. Lord knows how many afternoons I’ve worn my aging Arizona Wildcats No. 2 basketball jersey, from college to post-grad life. But I’m not quite five-and-a-half feet tall and 135 pounds. When rocking replica apparel, I need something tapered and tailored, as do many other men and women who aren’t built like Richard Sherman. I bring this up because Nike recently released the jersey the Australian men’s national soccer team will rock at the 2014 World Cup, and it’s the archetype for what a soccer jersey should look like.
The details surrounding the actual shirt are as follows: the jersey pays homage to the shirt the Socceroos wore at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany (the nation’s first appearance in a World Cup finals), “boasts a green Johnny collar*,” and is composed of Nike’s signature Dri-FIT technology, which pulls moisture away from areas where it’s most frequently generated to keep players (and fans) cool and comfortable.
Straying from the press release speak, the Aussie top that Nike created is gorgeous. It’s so simple, contrasting the green collar and rimmed sleeves against the yellow body, flaunting an oversized–but not gaudy–Australian crest on the left breast. Gotty laughed when I said that soccer jerseys could be worn in a “classy” setting, and sure, I probably misspoke what I meant. What I meant was soccer jerseys don’t make us look like clowns, and can be worn at more places than the Delta Tau Delta springfest rager off Congress Street.
True, soccer unis will never be confused for formalwear. But the tailored approach to the jersey–one Nike has seemingly captured upon since its last round of crew- and rugby-flavored kits in 2010–is in its DNA. The 1920s and 1930s Arsenal squads are singled out for popularizing the style today’s Australia jersey replicates. Manager Herbert Chapman, according to Arsenal’s website, reportedly saw someone at the club’s grounds “wearing a red sleeveless sweater over a white shirt,” which then caused him to create a shirt that had a red body, white sleeves and a white collar. This look then made its way to clubs and teams across the world.
Soccer jerseys, like those of any other sport, have gone through its fair share of changes. Heavy cotton twill has given way to light, synthetic materials in iterations both f*cking ugly and beautiful, sometimes at the same time. However, nothing will beat the look above and below this text, which might also inform the Americans’ Nike kit when it’s eventually released**. It’s the classic soccer jersey design, built somehow simultaneously for form and function.
And for many other occasions that occur outside neighborhood Buffalo Wild Wings.
* – According to Wikipedia, a Johnny collar is “a style with an open, short V-neck and a flat, often knit, collar.”
** – It would be the first collared United States Men’s National Team jersey since 2002.