In a special Kits of the Year feature, Kitbag.com recounts some of the big hitters from adidas to hit the site in 2016, while selecting a few of our favourites from the German manufacturer.
2016 saw Manchester United begin an exciting new chapter under maverick manager Jose Mourinho and fans of the Old Trafford outfit were able to show their support in the all-new United home shirt; a proud addition to the club’s kit canon, fit for the Theatre of Dreams.
Characterised by two contrasting shades of red, displayed in a novel half and half design, this original home shirt provided a powerful image for the club’s new campaign, drawing its inspiration from the roots of the United legacy and the half and half jerseys of Newton Heath.
Continuing to pay homage to history, this year’s change strip stirred memories of 1968, as Matt Busby’s men defeated Portugal’s Benfica to secure England’s first ever European Cup.
The landmark Wembley clash saw George Best, Bobby Charlton and teammates switch from customary red to alternate blue and 2016′s collegiate royal blue strip offered a timely nod to this milestone success, as United set out on an all-new quest for European silverware.
Completing the triumvirate, United’s 2016 third shirt saw the 20-time champions of England switch to a white and notably grey look; shrugging off any connotations with vision issues from Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign to focus sights firmly on Premier League redemption.
A perennially hot-selling entity across the Kitbag site, United’s recruitment of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and others has ensured a strong start for all three kit variations.
Anchored by tradition and shaped by London legacy, the official Chelsea home shirt that launched in 2016 saw the restoration of a familiar Stamford Bridge image, with its vintage v-collar drawing allusion to the famous Blues teams that paved the way for the stars of today.
With Chelsea’s lion forming the basis of a unique, all-over pattern print, their new home jersey’s Three Stripe branding featured in the same side placement that was popularised at EURO 2016, completing a winning mix of old and new for the Blues’ renewed title push.
For the change shirt, tradition was cast aside, manifesting a modern jersey marked by slim black and thicker grey frontal hoops, the latter appearing to present a TV static effect.
Supplying this cutting-edge effort with high-impact contrast, the collar, sleeve trim and shoulder 3 Stripe elements were each enhanced by solar yellow accents, with the same colour scheme continued through the brand motif, club crest and back neck wording.
For the traditionalist however, solace could be found in the third kit, a classic reversal of the Chelsea colours, with usage of white as an alternate base stemming as far back as 1905.
With its collar and trim reminiscent of the late-1950s third shirt, this heritage-laden effort drew allusion to the heyday of home-grown hero Jimmy Greaves; the forward that set the all-time benchmark for today’s Stamford Bridge strikers to aspire towards.
Crossing into La Liga, the 2016 Real Madrid home shirt heralded the return of purple as a supporting colour, affixing vibrant character and club culture to its classic, crystal white.
A distinguishing feature 18 years ago, as Real captured their first European Cup in decades, the revival of purple for 2016 is a consistent feature across their kits; none moreso than the away jersey, which saw the supporting colour brought prominently to the forefront.
Completing the triumvirate, the 2016 Real third shirt depicts a dynamic modern image to the untrained eye, yet is similarly rooted in the region’s rich traditions, with its marble-style shoulder graphic inspired by the city of Madrid’s majestic Plaza de Cibeles.
With its famous crest brought back from the wilderness, AC Milan’s red and black identity was handed a facelift in 2016, with its stripes sloping off in a unique gradient style.
Retaining Fly Emirates chest sponsorship across all three of its offerings, the club’s change jersey meanwhile drew comparisons with Real’s recent home kits; its conventional, polo-styled collar accompanied by smooth shoulder and sleeve trim, each in championship gold.
However, much attention was devoted to the San Siro side’s third shirt; an unusual fusion of unorthodox gradient shoulders and night cargo base. An unprecedented palette for AC Milan and an ambitious new style for the Italian fashion capital, a slice of national heritage was nevertheless restored by slimline tricolour flags at the inner and back neck alike.
Elsewhere in Italy, while the Juventus home jersey for 2016 saw their synonymous black and white retained, a degree of creative licence was employed for the Turin outfit’s latest, with thicker, darker stripes interrupted by pure, white pin striping that continued into the sleeves.
Befitting of a summer that saw the Azzurri challenging for European Championship honours, Juve’s 2016 away day offering aligned the side’s own identity with the Italian national team’s colours, reinforcing the bond between club and country in a fresh and effective form.
Defined by its two-tone style, this inspired effort from adidas was one of the true triumphs of the calendar year, utilising contrasting hues of vivid and victory blue to maximum effect.
Meanwhile, the new Juventus third shirt that emerged in 2016 took the Serie A champions’ Zebras nickname to a whole new level; using unique shoulder patterning to bring ‘Le Zebre’ to life, as wild zebra print consistent with the Turin club’s traditional colours and crest created an outlandish image that remained recognisably Juventus.
For decades a core component of the club’s visual character, Bayern Munich’s 2016 home shirt brought renewed emphasis to the pride of Bavaria’s powerful and prominent red, with modern and traditional design features working in tandem and reaping results.
With its combination of red core and white accents reflecting the colours worn to the 1975 and 1982 European Cup Finals, 2016′s Bayern home shirt was embellished for by subtle and prominent striping, while retaining a vintage polo collar for an effective retro finish.
Representing an innovation for the club’s kit catalogue, the 2016 change shirt saw Bayern introduce triple-tone grey visuals for the first time in its history. With three shades represented in a diagonal design format, black accents were employed to embellish the jersey’s collar and sleeve trim, with classic Three Stripe shoulder positioning, inner and outer back neck messages and rear BAYERN MÜNCHEN wording coloured in striking solar red.
Contrastingly simple yet nonetheless efficient and effective, the new Bayern third shirt employed collegiate burgundy accents and silver brand embellishment, with its crew neck collar and side cuffs completing a largely no-nonsense affair, reminiscent of the German’s triumphant European Cup Winners’ Cup XI of 1967; their first continental champions.
Best of the Rest
Casting our net across the rest of Europe, a number of other clubs were able to showcase some superior adidas playing strips in 2016. Here are a few of our personal favourites.
In France, Marseille’s home shirt and change selection each carried the glacial composure connected to the Ligue 1 contenders. However, it was the third strip that particularly caught the Kitbag eye; a tribute to the club’s Argentinian stars that saw Marseille visuals adapted seamlessly into the unmistakable style of the Pumas national team.
From Johan Cruyff to Marco van Basten to Dennis Bergkamp and beyond, Ajax has long been a production line of excellence and their 2016 home jersey continued the club’s proud traditions; preserving their famed home identity of bold red and white.
2016 saw fans of the Dutch masters were spoiled for choice, as adidas launched a special change jersey for the Eredivisie mainstays; defined by a bespoke background that that made impressive and innovative use of the Amsterdam civic crest.
Finally, the likes of Lyon and Schalke (to name but two) further enhanced the adidas kit catalogue in 2016, with each of the shirts released this year benefitting from high-performance, sweat-wicking Climacool® fabric, as is the standard across the range.
2016 was a major year on the international front; and while the Women’s World Cup and Copa America Centenario captured ample attention, it was EURO 2016 that took centre stage.
Among the standout kits on show in France this summer, reigning world champions Germany took a smart first choice effort to Lez Rendez-Vous; one minimalist on initial impression, yet carrying a delightful vertical chart that recounted the rankings of the national team at each previous World Cup and European Championship tournament.
Receiving a similarly enthusiastic response, the team’s away edition introduced an all-new, fashion and culture-conscious design, notably characterised by the rare feature of reversible functionality. The Germany change shirt for 2016 represented a new German generation; its reversible element evoking images of its amateur and street football heartbeat.
Spain endured an indifferent year, in defence of the Henri Delaunay Trophy. However, the outgoing holders did succeed in snaring significant attention, especially when wearing their away jersey (as showcased most notably in the knockout match with Italy). Compared by its critics to Spanish paella, this spectacular and original design brought the fiery emotion of Spanish football to the forefront, even if the players could not quite live up to expectations.
Another set of favourites who fell short at EURO 2016, Belgium could find some consolation in ranking among the tournament’s fashion champions; with their home shirt’s creative use of the colours of the Belgian flag facilitating a modern and vivid design.
Even more noteworthy, Belgium’s change strip equivalent was a truly special creation; its vapour blue background and tricolour block inspired by the iconic Belgian cycling jersey.
Today, as we look forward to 2017, a number of nations have launched their kits for the upcoming Confederations Cup, with tournament hosts Russia impressively leading the way.
Embellished by retro-styled, zig-zagged print and emboldened collar and cuff elements, this 2016 production looks poised to be a favourite in the ensuing year, with its throwback theme replicating the proud and powerful image of successful Russian teams of the 1980s.
2016 saw Kitbag.com expand its MLS range significantly, with all of Major League Soccer’s kits manufactured by adidas. In addition to choice selections from Orlando City, New England Revolution, New York City and others, the site would stock the 2016 All-Star shirt from the summer onwards; a jersey inspired by the host San Jose Earthquakes that expanded on the style of the modern MLS logo. For a look at our favourite MLS kits for 2016, click here.
Finally, adidas were responsible for two of 2016′s most unusual and responsible kit creations, as unveiled to the world in November by flagship clubs Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
The environmentally-friendly ‘Parley’ kits were worn by the sides in their fixtures against Sporting Gijon and Hoffenheim respectively and allowed players and fans alike to combine their proud club affinities with a show of love for the planet Earth.
With sponsorship, manufacturer and club logo each represented in eco-friendly water-based print, these unique, one-off jerseys were made in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans; composed of special yarn, made from reclaimed and recycled ocean debris.
Produced and distributed in a limited edition, these innovative recycled shirts were fleeting additions to the Kitbag site, yet remain among the most memorable kits in all of 2016. AC