Are Nike replica kit buyers that blind?

Or maybe some really are so…

It didn’t matter that we may have to wait for eternity before Holland could actually lift the coveted World Cup trophy after having came so agonisingly close to winning it in 1974 after losing to the despised Deutsche Mannschaft and subsequently then to the Argies in 1978 – but I’m sure that whenever the "Clockwork Orange" plays, there is a strong chance that their legion of fans would turn out in the latest available strip notwithstanding the inanely simple design of the new shirts.

What really concerns me is that the way football kit manufacturers are delivering these shirts to the masses and asking them to pay approximately €59.95 (on the Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbal-Bond [Dutch Football Association] website) which translates to 47.2 GBP in the UK and RM303 in Malaysia.

I don’t profess to have the best fashion sense. To me, there’s nothing so unique about men’s office wear that I need to go out of the way to spend something which I don’t really need or have thought about needing it sometime in the future. The same goes with leisurewear – just that occasional roundneck Tee or the polo shirt every 3 months. But I do think that the new Oranje kit is a rip-off.

It appears to me that they have created an ordinary football shirt embroidered with some technology which is somewhat more useful than your regular cotton shirts (which gets incredibly weighted down with heavy perspiration) – paint it in the national colours; add the nation’s flag to the collar and voilà! You get a new national kit which you can sell to anyone who cared to buy it. Of course, there are some neat and meticulous contour sculpturing of the jersey to accentuate the muscles of the footballers who are fit and muscular enough to wear them and also to conversely show with no great effort, the love handles at the bellies of 90% of the world population.

I do recall another national kit embarrassment during the Euro 2000 in Holland and Belgium. The kit for the Orange team then was even simpler than ordinary shirts meant for toddlers. It was a baggy-type shirt flushed in the Dutch orange, appended with some black strips of border cloth on the sleeves and the V-necked collar area and Nike sold it for RM300 in Malaysia back in the year 2000 in conjunction with Euro 2000. I still remember this abject kit since I used to have a demented classmate by the name of Lim Fung Kit who did lavish that sort of hard-earned money on this simple T-shirt. He even remarked that the kit actually looked beautiful. Well, to each his own.

So maybe we were paying for the Nike Swoosh logo. Can’t argue with that as it’s their IP. We were also paying for the KNVB lion logo. No problem with that. The only protestation to be had is with the kit which looked like the Nike designers had just gone to sleep with the core design still intact only to submit it as final draft when they have awoken from their slumber.

Then again, Nike’s kits for a particular season could be more or less the same for teams under their sponsorship. When the famous Highbury blackcurrant kit was created for the Arsenal in the 2005/2006 season, the Dutch team also wore a similar collared version for the World Cup 2006 in Germany. I do like the Highbury commemorative kit immensely anyway.

However, the most recent glaring use of laziness (aesthetics usually call this ‘simplistic’) by Nike is with one of Man Ure’s kit of a past season. It was an ugly, totally red kit filled with the sponsor of an American insurance company at the centre of the kit. There are no adornments present anywhere else on this kit – and appearance-wise it’s just like those club/sports t-shirts which you can expect to receive when you join a marathon event with the exception of the Nike swoosh logo and the club emblem and certain surface differences. Well, I don’t mind if these lousy kits are sold to Man Ure fans who happily blow their money on classless items such as these. A fool and his money are soon parted.

But back to the Dutch 2008/2009 kit. It’s a crying shame – a training top look-alike slapped with the Swoosh and the KNVB emblem on either side of the chest area and flourished with overlapping V-neck collar of which one of the collar’s sides contain a quasi-diagonal rendition of the Netherlands national flag. I’m not talking about the constitutional benefits of wearing the shirt nor its comfortableness or its durability – the first thing people would notice is its intentionally deceptive design as the collar did look phony. Why would you need just a strip of national flag running down one side of the dominant overlapping collar when they can both be either the same design or to do away with it?

I can tell you that I’m deferring buying the kit this time round – maybe when the World Cup 2010 looms near and we’ll talk about buying the Oranje kit then.

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