Is it what it looks like? Who wore it? Whether a team won stuff in it? Whether it makes you smile? Misty-eyed? Well, it’s all of those things and yet maybe even none of them; for football shirts are a completely subjective entity, and largely difficult to evaluate. And yet, we can still all agree on many of the beauties out there.
As CNN puts it, World Cups not only showcase the world’s finest players but some of the best and worst football kits in history.However, designing an international football uniform is no easy feat. Kits are made to represent not just the identity of the team, but fully encapsulate everything the nation is — both past and present.
Manufacturers spend months researching and designing how a team’s shirt, shorts and socks should look, and what the kit should represent. Dreaming up a design is more than just using the country’s national colours. While some countries use the colours from their flags, others use colours that have historical, political or geographical meaning.
“The identity of the team has to shine,” John Devlin, expert in football kit design and author of International Football Kits (True Colours), tells CNN Sport.
“But what you also have to do, from my point of view, to create a truly great kit design, you have to acknowledge heritage and tradition.
“You have to embrace that but it’s vital that it’s modern and it’s contemporary and it’s rendered in a way that speaks the language of the time.”
With that comes massive responsibility for the manufacturers behind the designs, such as Adidas, Puma, Nike, Umbro and Hummel. While many are good, the World Cup certainly hasn’t been without the occasional controversial or eye-watering design.
In the meantime we seriously invite you to explore the history of the World Cup with a graphic guide to the official kit worn by this year’s 32 competing teams through the ages as prepared by The Guardian.