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June 14, 2018

The best kits at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have some idea that the 2018 FIFA World Cup starts today. And while the battle for football’s biggest prize officially kicks off in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow as Russia face Saudi Arabia, the battle in the style stakes is already well under way. So before the action starts, let’s take stock of the threads.

The World Cup showcases some of the world’s finest footballing talent, but there’s design talent on display too – a whole lot of work goes into creating each team’s strip.

Kit designers need to consider national identity past and present. Shirts need to pay homage to tradition and history yet remain contemporary and fresh. This balancing act has other creative constraints too – designs also need to comply with FIFA’s stringent kit regulations.

Even if football’s not your cup of tea, the World Cup wardrobe offers plenty to admire. Without further ado, here’s our 6 of the best.

Nigeria (Nike)

Photo credit: Nike

Energetic green and white zig zags give this Super Eagles home shirt a retro flavour but, at the same time, it’s something totally new. The visual feast was an instant classic with punters – it was easily the most talked about kit ahead of the World Cup, causing a massive stir on social media. It had fans queuing in their hundreds outside Nike’s flagship store on Oxford Street here in London, and reportedly sold out online within three minutes. Yes, three minutes.

Germany (Adidas)

Photo credit: Adidas

Title-defending Germany’s home shirt is a modern monochrome interpretation of their iconic 1990 shirt – the third time they won the cup, and their last win before their 2014 victory. The design skilfully bridges the two eras and is one we’d better get used to seeing – Die Mannschaft have reached the semi-finals of every major tournament since 2006.

Japan (Adidas)

Photo credit: Adidas

Adidas looked even further back for the Japanese home strip. The deep blue shirt features a minimal white thread pattern imitating the appearance of a traditional Japanese stitching technique known as sashiko that dates to the Edo era (1615-1868). An ancient technique made modern with aplomb – Adidas have created something special for the Blue Samurai.

Peru (Umbro)

Photo credit: Umbro

Tried and tested, the Peruvian home kit is simple and iconic: all white with a vibrant diagonal red stripe from the left shoulder to the right hip, forming a sash. The 2018 edition’s gold details only add to the elegance. Despite the sash, however, this pageant is unlikely to end in crowning glory for La Blanquirroja – they will be vying against strong French and Danish teams in Group D.

Switzerland (Puma)

Photo credit: Puma

You might look at this seemingly straightforward kit and ask yourself, “haven’t I seen this before?” But the devil’s in the detail with Puma’s Swiss effort. The contours of the country’s world-famous mountain ranges make up the jersey’s pattern. It also carries the crest of the Swiss Football Association and the aesthetically pleasing national flag. Topography made trendy.

Croatia (Nike)

Photo credit: Nike

We have a theory that it’s physically impossible to design a bad Croat home kit. And as of 2018, the theory still stands. The classic red and white chequered shirt – based on the Croatian coat of arms, the sahovnica – blends national pride and history with grace and style. And the team’s not half bad either.

Honourable mentions
  • Colombia – Home Kit
  • France – Away Kit
  • Mexico – Away Kit

Photo credits: Adidas / Nike

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