Let me begin by saying that, generally speaking, I think St. Mirren F.C. puts out some of the best kits in professional football. They have (err…had) a classic home kit and usually supplement it with excellent away and third kits. Last season I thought their trio of kits was among the best anywhere. Nothing earth-shaking, just quality from beginning to end. Unfortunately, their recently released home kit for next year is a car crash- the, “I can’t look away!” kind of car crash. Is it horrible? I don’t know. I think I’ll just have to fall back on one of my father’s favorite lines when, say, he walked by my bedroom to hear Minor Threat blaring out of my stereo and just said, “Well, isn’t that…something.”
When it comes right down to it- and forgive me for stating the obvious- I think the problem is the shirt (more on that below). The shorts (above) are plain, one might even say, “classy.” The socks? Well, except for the awful Carbrini logo on the shin, I quite like them (below). The shirt, however, is just too damn “busy.” St. Mirren have gone with stripes this thin on several occasions and it has only worked once- from 1884-1898- when it was the only design element on the shirt. No logo, no contrasting trim, nothing- even the shorts and socks were absolutely plain, solid blue. The 1987-1989 version with the HUGE white chest plate and red trim was an abomination, and the 1997-1998 version- though the stripes weren’t quite as thin- falls somewhere in the middle, with only the Uhlsport wordmark and sponsor logo having contrasting red elements.
The shirt does not look any better with long sleeves either- and some do. Look-
Regardless of sleeve length, what, specifically are the problems with this top, why is it too “busy?” Well, first off, the “test pattern” striping is just too much unless the rest of the top (and kit) is absolutely quiet- and neither is. Second, like Diadora and Fila (more, unfortunately, on them in a moment) insists on putting their clunky logo everywhere- something all-too-common among kit brands that don’t have the Q-rating of a Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc.. Third, the yellow is completely unnecessary on the shirt- especially as it appears on the sponsor logo. Fourth, can you imagine what this is going to look like with a shirt number on the back? There is no “cut-out” for the numbers, so that means that the numbers will probably be yellow trimmed in black and white or, perhaps even worse, white or black trimmed with yellow and black/white. Did I say “car crash?” I think I meant, “train wreck.” Finally, there’s the club crest- one of my favorites in all of football. It is not, however, a streamlined, “graphic design-oriented affair,” it is, in and of itself, “busy.”
It’s beautiful. But you put this on a shirt as busy as the new one and it’s not going to work. Maybe something like this would work…
…but you’d probably have to redesign the whole kit in a more modernist/futuristic “color-matched” kind of look and, well, then it would be an entirely different kit anyway, so what would be the point of that? I mean, other than having the opportunity to pretend the first try never happened at all.
By now you’re wondering, “But what does this have to do with Ross County?” Well, I was getting to that. The Carbrini “brand” (it’s really no more than a logo and a wordmark, there is no “Carbrini” factory, or little town in Italy where the kits are hand-stitched by adorable old Italian women), like Diadora- and I believe, FILA- is owned by JD Sports, a U.K.-based retail chain like Olympia, Modell’s, etc. here in the the U.S..* So, if you see a club in Scotland or elsewhere wearing one of these brands, regardless of the actual “brand,” the design originated in Bury, England. Which logo get slapped on which kit probably has more to do with the design, club, and local market the kit is aimed at.
My worry here is that there are rumors that JD Sports- kit providers to Ross County- are making an attempt to push the Carbrini brand which they see as the hip, urban, young line of the three (Diadora being the more “traditional” line, and FILA being the line worn by 80s rappers, tennis players, and old people who walk laps in the mall while wearing matching tracksuits) by putting more of the teams they sponsor in Carbrini kits next season- including Ross County. This worries me for two reasons. First, in the two years County have worn Diadora, there have been no “clunkers” among the four kits and there’s been an absolute winner (last year’s red, be-sashed, away kit) as well. Second, I’ve never seen a Carbrini kit that was better than “slightly below” average.
I fear for my club’s sartorial future…
*JD Sports also owns the Kooga and Canterbury rugby brands, the Blacks outdoor chain (St. Mirren’s shirt sponsor last season), Champion Sports chain in Ireland, the Cloggs shoe store chain, etc..