Earlier this week West Ham have announced the release of the new “history making” black away kit produced by Manchester based kit manufacturer Umbro, for the 2017-18 season.
The away kit that could feature on the road against Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Southampton, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Stoke City as an all-black combination kit that features Umbro’s Blue Fish colour trim and piping.
The Umbro logo and West Ham United crest will also be in Blue Fish making the colour stand out on a blank black canvas. The Betway sponsorship features heavily on the front with its bold font that will be coloured in white, running across the abdomen of the shirt.
The theme continues on the shorts and socks, giving the strip a clean and contemporary look that will stand out on the pitch as well as off it as casual attire.
The new Premier League type font and numbers on this kit will be white with black outlines. The new typeface completes the rebranding process of the Premier League after releasing a new logo that features on the sleeves.
It has to be mentioned that some Premier League clubs will have sleeve sponsorship deals that will be on the left sleeve replacing one of the Premier League labels. Stoke City have already announced a deal to have mobile game app Top Eleven to feature on their kits for the upcoming season, however it was Manchester City who are the first club in top-flight history to agree a deal with Korean manufacturer Nexen Tire.
West Ham have not yet confirmed a deal, but it is rumoured that Indian mobile network Reliance Jio are interested.
Back to the finer details of the kit…
Some fans have been questioning the heritage of the kit by being predominantly black with no signs of claret. But, there are slight flashes of claret on the inner neck of the shirt and also a single claret piping line across the upper neck. Above that piping you will see a small Great Britain flag motif coloured ‘Blue Fish’ and white with the words ‘THE HAMMERS’ written underneath.
It could be said that this motif looks like the opening titles to Dads’ Army, but this is a significant part of West Ham’s heritage as the flag represents the Thames Iron Works original club badge. The GB flag has featured last season on the cuff of the sleeve on both home and away stripS, but it was the commemorative navy kit that featured the original flag that caused the most fuss, as the kit could not be used in competitive fixtures due to image rights and was only used once in a friendly v. Juventus.
The trim on the collar bone area and on the side of the shorts, are Umbro’s traditional diamond pattern with a diagonal thin line hatch in the Blue Fish’ colour on a light blue background. This mixture of pattern and two shades of blue really stands out on the kit and gives a subtle dynamic change of tone when moving the fabric of the shirt.
Us fans have all seen the cycle of kits that occur within the space of three seasons. White one year, navy the next, sky blue after that, and repeat. To add in a new colour palette makes the club brand work in new levels and presents our club differently to what we know.
I wouldn’t say that the club is changing our identity, but they are tweaking it, making it bigger and better. Everyone has different tastes and nobody is forcing anyone to buy every kit. Kit merchandise has a big influence in how the club makes money; if they only had one kit to offer they wouldn’t earn a lot of money by one design, as some people wouldn’t be swayed in paying for it. Its all down to taste.
But to increase the sales of shirts, the club needs a player with pulling power. A world class athlete that is worth paying for to secure an income elsewhere. Look at Ibrahimović, signed for Manchester United on a free on a £250k-per-week deal. Shirt sales earned over £90m, with that money they bought Paul Pogba for a world record fee.
I can understand why some of the old school fans are against the kit, as this is a kit colour that you wouldn’t associate with West Ham, but rather the match day officials.
The fear from the older fans has been generated by the relocation to London Stadium and the rebranding of the club’s badge. Now it’s the kit. The club is changing and going on to great things. Last season was a really downbeat season experienced by all; the owners, the players and the fans, and a lot of change happened in so little time.
In my opinion, I feel that change is necessary as actions need to be made to compete with other clubs on the pitch and off it. A kit shouldn’t really be dividing the fan base and everyone has their own opinions and are entitled to do so.
I’m in favour of trying new things and I feel that the club and Umbro have done this kit justice.
I rate the kit 8/10 – it’s simple, its crisp, its contemporary and its smart – a new style and one of the best away kits in recent years, but without over complicating the design. The new away kit is the start of a new direction, to be open minded with West Ham as the main thought.
Blowing Bubbles away in Black and Blue,
May make all our dreams come true.