The new home shirt for the upcoming season has finally been unveiled and even though the shirt is still red and white, it still offers som major new details that makes this shirt stand out from previous ones. We had a talk about the new shirt with the man behind it, Adidas-designer James Webb, who also had the pleasure of designing last seasons shirts.
How do you start a design process like this when you design a kit for Arsenal?
We as a Football department start each season with a creative direction that helps influence how we approach the design process for each of our Clubs and Federations.
For the upcoming season, our overarching theme has been “United by Art and Football” which is inspired by the similarities that exist between these two territories. Our purpose is to infuse both of these elements into each design to capture the culture and passion shared by the fans and players alike.
We began the creative process by challenging our own methods of working / designing by creating hand drawn graphics which in turn enabled us to have a more direct and personal touch with what we create, resulting in rich and meaningful story telling. In addition, we invest a lot of time talking to the Club and the Arsenal-fan base to try and gain as much insight into their traditions, ethos and culture.
What do you personally enjoy the most in the process of designing a kit?
The initial research phase is always a fun and enriching experience. You come across things which can be fairly obscure or unique which can lead to great stories to communicate. As a designer it’s always great trying to find different ways of interpreting these stories through different methods of design that hopefully will resonate with the community and other football supporters.
Football shirts have become more and more a piece of fashion and not just only a football kit you wear on the pitch. Is it also something you consider in your design process?
Football in recent times, has started to strike a fine balance between performance and fashion which has given football kits a new identity. “Stadium to Street” is a design ethos we apply to the way we build products where they are considered in various environments, and that is how they are worn by many. It has been a theme that has been consistent across a multitude of different seasons and is something we strive to attain. We actively try to keep up to date with the latest trends to ensure our designs are as relevant as possible and connect with our audiences. We are inspired by many different elements, from the streets to art and beyond. A good idea can come from an unexpected place.
What are the main details of the home shirt or/and away shirt?
The 20/21 collection aims to unite generation of fans by referencing the clubs prolific “Art Deco” period. Both Home and Away jerseys draw inspiration from patterns, colours and other motifs / symbols found amongst the Iconic East Stand of Highbury and its prestigious Marble Halls.
The Home Jersey and back neck sign off is a nod to Arsenal’s Geometric crest of this period. The crest which is proudly placed center front on the façade of the East Stand as well as being forged into the iron gates and marbled floors. These details still remain prevalent today as they did upon their completion.
Taking reference from this, the chevron graphic on the home jersey is inspired by the Art Deco “A” within the crest and the layout of the marble tiling on the hall floors. The dark shade of red used throughout the kit is also used to celebrate the club’s heritage, something that is synonymous with Arsenal and rooted in their DNA.
How important is it for you to make kits that not only look into the past but also into the future?
For the 19/20 season we wanted to create a range that was a staple of Arsenal’s Identity, whilst celebrating our previous partnership together. We tried to achieve this by creating something that was reminiscent of the Adidas kits of the past.
For the follow up season, we didn’t want to lean on past kits for inspiration, but rather focus on what makes Arsenal such an important club by celebrating their heritage and try to define a new chapter of our partnership together. We wanted to approach this season from a different perspective, introducing a strong visual identity that perhaps hasn’t been that common especially amongst previous home jerseys.
Has the club given you any input in the process? How much freedom do you have yourself in the design?
It’s very much a collaborative process and Arsenal are very open to exploring new ideas. There is always an open dialog between the two of us (Arsenal and Adidas) and the Club were very excited about taking the design direction into new territories but also voiced their opinion to try and keep their Club values and vision intact.
They are a great Club to work with, very forward thinking and always have the fans interests at heart.
Has it been hard for you to come up with a follow up to the 2019/2020-kits, that turned out to be a massive success?
We usually work two years in advance, so as season 2 was signed off, season 1 had just started to be released. During the design process of our first season back together, we felt confident that we had created a strong collection that the Arsenal faithful could relate to.
When it came to start the second season, it was an exciting challenge as a designer to try and come up with new ideas to take the jerseys into a new territory. The seasonal direction “United by Art and Football” enabled us to do this by challenging how we would traditionally approach each design, moving away from more digital graphics and instead focus on more natural forms of graphics / art.
Which Arsenal-kit would you wish you would have been involved in?
The Bruised Banana – At the time it was so provocative. The designers surely would have expected back lash upon its release and yet today it’s considered a classic. I just count myself very fortunate that I had to opportunity to have worked with Arsenal and I hope that the 19/20 away jersey did the original some justice.