I had hoped to have this ready for opening day of the SPFL leagues 2017-2018 season but, well, life got in the way and the post itself took on a life of its own (as you will see!), so here we are two weeks later. Anyway, it’s time to take a look at the hits, misses, and “WTF?!s” of the new club kits in Scotland. Even with the two extra weeks there are a few “missing” kits across four leagues, but in most cases the kit isn’t actually missing, the club is just using the same away kit as last year. In any case, I honestly don’t think it would have changed much rankings-wise.
I’m also changing things up a little this year and not rating all of the kits in any of the four leagues. The simple reason for that is that if there is one “story” of the kits from the Premiership to League Two this year it is “averageness.” If I had to take a guess I would say that 80% of this year’s kits just kind of…exist. They aren’t great, they aren’t terrible, they just kind of…are. So, I’m not going to waste my time trying to differentiate between the 4th best and 8th best in any of the leagues. Instead, I’m just going to rank those- good or bad- that are worth ranking and you can just assume that everything else finished in a dead heat for “bland.” You may also notice that in several cases a club has made a “best” list by virtue of simply not screwing up their iconic look. It’s a low bar, but there it is. Oh, one thing before I get to the rankings…
The reason for this trend toward the boring kit is simple: clubs want two things, 1) to sell as many replica kits as they can, and 2) to have as much predictability in these sales as possible from year to year. The way to address both issues is not to stray to far from the path. In the first instance, far too many of us (and you better believe I’m including myself here!) will buy a new replica top simply because it is new. It need not be better than the previous season’s, only different. Thus, most clubs just fiddle with the trim, lighten/darken a color, change the collar style, etc. knowing that most of us are going to buy it anyway. In the second- and related- instance, clubs want to know (roughly) what kind of revenue replica sales are going to bring in and be able to depend on that figure. The way to do that is, once again, not to take any risks in the design of the top. They know the minor season-to-season tweaks will cause a small amount of supporters to buy/not buy the top, but that everyone else will, as I said, buy it just because it’s new. They also know (though I might disagree) that a radically different top is just as like to kill sales as it is to drive them up, so they don’t bother- it fails the tried and true, “cost-benefit analysis.” So, we’re left with a lot of “filler” each season and it’s mostly our fault. So, on that positive note!
Best Home Kit: Heart of Midlothian F.C.
While this is a case of, “they just didn’t screw it up,” their home kit is pretty much perfect anyway, so that’s a compliment. There is simply nothing here not too like. Clean, simple, a bit retro, they’ve gone back to Umbro, etc. And speaking of Umbro, I love that they’ve brought back an updated version of the satin logo “tape” on the shoulders, look-
That’s just gorgeous.
That’s it for the “best” in the Premiership. Hibernian stuck with their classic look, as did Celtic (with some 50th anniversary of the “Lisbon Lions” detailing), but everything else was just…okay. As for Ross County, I like all three pieces of the kit but I just don’t think they work together. I almost suspect that they’d already decided on the shorts and socks when they let supporters choose the top and as a result the three piece “kind of” go together, but not really.
Best Away Kits: 1) Aberdeen F.C., 2) Motherwell F.C., 3) Dundee F.C.
I think what it comes down to with this kit is that, except for the length of the shorts, this kit could have stepped right out of the mid-1980s when I was falling in love with the beautiful game. It may not be everybody’s cuppa, but I just plain like it.
Fair play to Motherwell, they did take a risk with their away kit and it is a stunner. Grey and black have been few and far between ever since that ill-fated Man U kit of the mid-90s got everything wrong. This kit gets everything right: well-matched colors and other that the hoop motif, no unnecessary bells and whistles.
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one at first, but when I saw that the socks mirrored the gradient blue stripes on the top I was won over. Maybe not as much of a “sure thing” as the Aberdeen and Motherwell kits, but a nice one nonetheless.
Honorable Mention Away Kit, Late Entry: Kilmarnock released their supporter-chosen away kit during the two weeks I spent work on this post. I like it, but I don’t know if I “love” it. I think my issue is that the bottom of the shirt doesn’t transition cleanly into the solid black shorts. Thoughts?
Best Third Kit: None. St. Johnstone and Celtic are the only Premiership clubs to release one so far, both are just a bit below average.
Worst Home Kit: Partick Thistle F.C.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: A Partick home kit without a significant amount of black or white in it is just too damn much. It works with black shorts, it works with white shorts (well, sort of), or even just some trim in either color. The worst part? The club knows this! This is only the second time since 1971-1972 that they’ve gone with a two color kit- and that one didn’t even last the whole season! Before the end of it they added black trim to the shorts and the socks! C’mon!!
Worst Away Kits: 1. Hamilton Academical, 2. Partick Thistle F.C., 3. Hibernian F.C.
I think at some point over the last two weeks somebody at Hamilton Accies saw that Partick and Hibs had beaten them out for the “Worst Away Kit” and decided, “Well, we’ll see about that!” The worst thing is, this could have worked! First, get red of the yellow, second, create color-matched club crest (light blue and dark blue), third, get rid of/change what is the worst sponsor logo/wordmark in the Premiership. This is paired with solid shorts and socks that match the darkest part of the shirt. Sheesh.
I almost gave the Hibees a pass on this because I think they tried. The reasons I didn’t are as follows: the green/white crest disappears inside the green/white racing stripe, the back of the kit features this:
And because they’ve done so well with black away kits in the past:
Worst Third Kit: See “Best Third Kit”
Best Home Kit: St. Mirren F.C.
There are a lot of “B+” kits in the Championship this year, but for whatever reason this one just edged the rest of them by a bit. Most likely I’m giving St. Mirren credit for not screwing up a good look. If you’re wondering what those “stickers” are, click here. Not sure what I think about the idea. Fast-forward two weeks: Yeah, don’t like the idea, just leave “well enough” alone.
Best Away Kits: Greenock Morton F.C. and St. Mirren F.C.
I know not everyone is going to agree with me about this, but I love it. My reasons are as follows: 1) I always love tartan kits and Greenock’s is even better than County’s. 2) Greenock has a history with tartan kits (both home and way) so this isn’t an “out of the blue” look for them. 3) Greenock has a history of taking a chance on creative kits and getting them right- something I appreciate even more given that they’ve spent most of their recent history in the lower leagues and operating on a lower league budget.
I’ll keep this simple: This (with solid white shorts and solid red socks) is how you do a checkerboard kit. This, is how you don’t.
Best Third Kit: No Championship club has released a third kit.
Worst Home Kits: Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C.
It’s only a coincidence that County’s former rivals have the worst home kit in the Championship- I swear! But seriously, if you’re a regular visitor to the site you know that I like simplicity enhanced by a single design “element” carried throughout the kit. This is the opposite of that. First, the addition of the “racing stripe’ (which I LOVE on a solid shirt) to an already striped top is ridiculous. Second, those “shadow lines” you see on the shoulders and hem of the top aren’t shadows, they’re actually “gradients” woven into the fabric of the shirt. The socks? Garbage. I cannot conceive of a kit they would make sense with.
Worst Away Kits: Queen of the South F.C.
I mean, I guess if you got rid of the sponsor logo and the club crest you might be able to wear it for a quick nine holes or something…but it’s still pretty bad and it only gets worse when the shorts and socks are part of the picture (seen here in prototype form)-
This is one of those times that I’m not even mad, I just feel badly for the players who have to wear it.
Worst Third Kit: No Championship club has released a third kit.
Best Home Kit: There really isn’t one. But a tip of the cap to Alloa Athletic F.C., Airdrieonians F.C., and East Fife F.C. for at least sticking with what works.
Best Away Kit: Queen’s Park F.C.
Even the clunky IRN-BRU logo can’t detract from one of the most enduring looks in world football. Why you would “demote” (see below) this kit to your away kit and replace it with a dumpster fire of an anniversary kit is beyond me.
Best Third Kits: For some reason two clubs (East Fife F.C. and Stranraer F.C.) have third kits, neither is good. See below.
Worst Home Kit: Queen’s Park F.C.
There are so many things wrong here it almost deserves it’s own post. Okay, first off, they introduced this kit last year (when I didn’t do a kit review) for the club’s 150th anniversary (1867-2017) and they are wearing it again this year because…the first part of this season is still 2017?! Second, while this kit looks somewhat like the kit the club wore for the first four (!) of the last 150 years (the socks should be either solid gray or blue and white hoops), nobody associates this look with the club. In fact, the home kit they wore with virtually no changes from 1873-2016 is one of the most iconic in all of football (see above)! Maybe have this as the away/third/cup kit, but that’s it!
Worst Away Kit: Ayr United F.C.
I’m always uneasy when I see a shirt like this (which looks fine on its own) because I think, “how are they going to make those stripes work with the rest of the kit?” If they continue onto the shorts you have a clown costume. If they are yellow and don’t you’ve got that weird Larry Johnson-era Charlotte Hornets thing going on and if they are white, somebody should be thrown in jail. So, it pretty much has to be solid black shorts and socks, or maybe yellow socks. Nope.
Take the white stripes away and it works. It’s not great, but it works. Leave them and…it doesn’t.
Worst Third Kits: Stranraer F.C. and East Fife F.C., it’s not even that they’re bad, they’re just pointless. Why do two of the clubs perennially in danger of relegation need third kits?
Best Home Kit: Clyde F.C.
Same kit as last year (and still no good picture of it anywhere online!) and still the best one in the division. Clean, crisp, and is there any supplier logo that works as well as the Hummel chevron in sprucing up a kit?
Best Away Kit: Montrose F.C.
Several other clubs have chosen Nike’s “Vapor” kit (Dundee United comes to mind) but I don’t think anyone has done it as well as Montrose. I can’t find any shots of somebody wearing the whole kit, but here’s one of the top:
As you can see, the home kit (which pairs with blue shorts and white socks) is nice as well.
Best Third Kit: Annan Athletic F.C. has a third kit, don’t know why. It’s boring.
Worst Home Kit: There isn’t one!
Worst Away Kit: Clyde F.C.
Let me just put this out there: “slate grey” and “pale orange” is not a good combination, especially when you then slap on a sponsor wordmark that doesn’t compliment either color and your club crest is mainly red. The shorts and socks don’t make it any better:
Such a shame considering how good their home kit is…
Worst Third Kit: See above.
And finally, my overall winners and losers…
Best overall kit: St. Mirren Away
Worst overall kit: Clyde F.C. Away
Best Kit Collection: Aberdeen F.C. and St. Mirren F.C.
Worst Kit Collection: Partick F.C. and Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C.