We wait for them to drop with bated breath. Sports superbrands have entire departments dedicated to getting them right. What is it about World Cup shirts?

Last year, fashion historian Neal Heard curated The Art of the Football Shirt; a Brick Lane art show. Punters wandered through mannequins draped in garish polyester, sipping wine and critiquing the shirts like oil paintings.

Shirts and what they represent are an essential part of football culture – especially during the World Cup. Forget the goals, the stress and the hours clocked up in the pub, everyone knows the kit reveal is where it’s at.

They’re also part of culture in a broader sense. When the new shirts drop, everyone’s suddenly a critic. We have our fun, tear them apart online – then get in the queue to spend the best part of £70 on one anyway.

Russia marks a significant development in the story of the World Cup kit. The international appeal of this year’s best shirts stands testament to the power of great design. Some have become fashion status symbols, complete with edgy shoots and the influencer seal of approval. They are joyful, celebratory and vibrant – all the things football should be.

What is it that makes this year’s offerings so special?

Classic appeal

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. From Peru to Japan and (almost) everywhere in between, designers of this year’s kits have gone full retro. England (come on England! etc.) have gone further back in the time machine than anyone, with home and away kits channelling the summer of ‘66. Dismissed by many as predictable, the design contrasts vintage fit with modern details to give the Three Lions a zeitgeisty update.

Elsewhere, the nostalgia runs just as deep – with many teams throwing back to the looks last seen at USA ‘94 (England weren’t there – but the less said about that the better). Back in the day the designs were funky and the materials were cheap and flammable. Russia 2018 is all about giving classic designs the premium treatment they deserve.

So which of this years kits have all the makings of an instant classic? Here’s our pick of the best…

Nigeria

They may not be favourites to bring home the World Cup, but when it comes to kit design there is one clear winner. The Nigerian home kit is being purchased at a phenomenal rate – and not just by Nigeria fans.

Launched on the 1st of June to the tune of 3 million pre-orders, the home shirt sold out in hours. Retro and futuristic at once, the design fuses a modern cut with a loud, nineties tribal-esque print. With its staggered monochrome zig-zags and vibrant green, it looks a lot like the kit worn by the Nigeria team at USA ‘94. Following what was obviously a killer strategy meeting, Nike have released a variety of clothing in the range – as cool off the pitch as on it. The kit has essentially become a cult streetwear line, complete with bomber jackets and bucket hats.

Ahead of the recent England vs. Nigeria warm-up game, queues to get hold of the home shirt stretched from Nike Town all the way down Oxford Street. Grime star and style icon Skepta was papped wearing one months before it went on sale – cementing the shirt’s legendary status among hypebeasts.

Japan

With its embroidered flag, subtle print (and anime-filled numbering if you’re lucky enough to get a special edition), Japan’s superdope Nippon blue number is practically a work of art.

Germany

The reigning world champions have a chance to repeat history – this time on Russian soil.

Germany’s home offering is a geometric, monochrome homage to their iconic kit worn at Italia ‘90 – and their teal away kit is just as sweet.

Brazil

Simple, stylish and sunshine yellow – Brazil’s design uses understated green numbering and a slightly retro fit to update their enviable classic and remind us you can’t improve on perfection.

Columbia

Nos vamos llenos de ilusión y muchos sueños por cumplir. 🇨🇴

A post shared by James Rodríguez (@jamesrodriguez10) on

Columbia are also heading back to the future. With its red and blue graphic diagonals on classic yellow, the shirt recalls images of Columbia’s ‘golden generation’ at Italia ‘90.

Here at Punch, anything that gets the world talking about design is ok with us. Whatever stage your ideas are at, our studio can bring your campaigns, content and storytelling to life with standout assets. Got a brief for us? Let’s talk design.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •