Shirts on Parade: Reviewing the 2014-15 Bundesliga Kits

It’s Bundesliga Fashion time. And what better time to cue up the generic house music, flashing lights, and roll out the catwalk than right now, as we await the new season’s start in a couple weeks. The new kits have all been released. Friendlies have been played, as we adjust to the new colors and shapes. Some clubs went bold. Some clubs went staid. Some clubs went “huh?” 

Who were the winners and losers of the Bundesliga 2014-15 kit designs?

Let’s take a look. I’ve divided the new designs into four categories: winning, staid, huh?, and ?@#%#&!. Mind you, my categories and evaluations are limited by own design and aesthetic sense. My “killing it” kit might be your hideous kit.

Winning 

The clubs in this category generally featured bold revisions of their club’s colors and tradition. However, the revisions were coherent, clean, and well-contrasted color-wise. All else being equal – like my own fandom – I would wear any of these kits as a design object. Well-done designers!

Werder Bremen

Werder Bremen's home and away kit.
Werder Bremen’s home kit for 2014-15.
Werder Bremen's away kit for 2014-15
Werder Bremen’s away kit for 2014-15.

I love the home kit. The green on white is sharply contrasted and so crisply executed. The collar, sleeves, and white buttons add an updated version of a classic look. Plus, the crest, shirt-maker logo, and sponsor logo sing together harmoniously. The away kit’s dark colors signal the traditional away kit function, but the winner is the green: the collar and cuffs. And I love the oranage accents, which pop out on this darker kit, as does that gold star above the crest.  Well done, Bremen! Well done.

VfL Wolfsburg

VfL Wolfsburg 214-15 kits.
VfL Wolfsburg 214-15 kits.

Certainly, VfL Wolfsburg wins any “go bold or go home” award with this design. It’s fresh, bold (yes!), and smartly integrates a 3rd color into the 3rd kit (unlike other disastrous 3rd kits – just wait till you see what’s in store at the end of this piece). The “cross” theme is used brilliantly to show off the weißgrün color family that VfL embraces. The front is uncluttered – notice that Kappa’s logo is moved atop the shoulder. Even the VW logo is somewhat unobtrusive. Although the white shirt lacks the cross, it features stylized and dynamic green lines, which give the illusion of movement.

I’ll admit, however, that the VfL design might be polarizing. I bet some of you would toss it down to the “Huh?” bin with the bold cross theme. For me, the boldness and cross theme work. And work well.

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Gladbach home kit for 2014-15
Gladbach home kit for 2014-15.
Gladbach away kit for 14-15.
Gladbach away kit for 14-15.

It must be a green thing for me, but I love the Foals’ new duds. Of the two shirts, I like the away shirt more – it’s less cluttered. I also like the dark green center vertical stripe with shoulder-area trim. Those pipeline white lines filter the shapes, too. I love the boldness around the chest-area of the home kit, but I don’t like how the stripes fades toward the bottom – why, Gladbach, why? Also, you can’t escape your sponsor’s logo. And in this case, the “Postbank” logo clashes awfully with the kit.

However, there’s too much for me to love about the greens, black, and white. So I can deal with the sponsor logo’s ugly presence.

SC Freiburg

SC Freiburg's home kit for 2014-15.
SC Freiburg’s home kit for 2014-15.
SC Freiburg's 3rd kit for 2014-15.
SC Freiburg’s 3rd kit for 2014-15.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Consider the sleeves on the new SCF home kit for 2014-15. Brilliant. The white and two red hoops (Arsenal-like) wonderfully break up the usual red-monotony of SCF’s home kit. The front is uncluttered, but not barren. The sponsor logo even looks great against the red field of the shirt. A fabulous design.

The away kit works very well, too. I love the black and grey vertical stripes – there’s just enough contrast to set them off and the stripes are wide enough to clean up the whole look. Sharp! (Even if it’s a bit prison-like.)

FC Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich home kit 2014-15.
Bayern Munich home kit 2014-15.
FC Bayern Munich away kit for 2014-15.
FC Bayern Munich away kit for 2014-15.

My love-hate kit of 2014-15. A couple days ago, I would’ve buried this kit in the “Huh?” bin, but after more sane thinking prevailed, I’ve got to award it. Just in time for the NYC office opening, Bayern have added blue back into their ubiquitous red and white duds. It took me a few weeks to get used to seeing blue on a Bayern kit again – that and my own sadness at seeing Lewa now wearing Bayern’s version of the American flag – but I have to admit that Bayern went bold in an awesome way with these kits. The blue cleanly integrates into the home shirt without too much visual clutter. The center vertical stripe stabilizes the whole thing. Although red and blue don’t necessarily “pop” out against each other, the Bayern home kit is attractive. At least you can appreciate it while Pep’s boys put up 5 goals on your side.

The away kit is lovely. I especially enjoy the switch from vertical lines (on the home kit) to horizontal hoops. I also like the retro-ish “stylization” of the colors, too.  And perhaps that grey hoop is a little Oktoberfest lederhosen nod?

FC Augsburg

FC Augsburg's kits for 2014-15.
FC Augsburg’s kits for 2014-15.

My first impression of FCA’s three new kits was staid. But take a closer look, especially at that green number. Damn. I love how the crest is integrated in stencil-fashion on the shirt. All three kits are uncluttered and crisp. Sure, FCA’s black-grey kit is straight out of the SCF playbook, but what works for Freiburg also works for FCA. Winning. My only complaint is that the white shirt panders too closely to what we usually see for this FCA kit . It’s looks a bit indistinguishable from previous seasons. However, I can’t lie: I love how red bathes each side in a solid block. Nice touch.

 

Staid

Now for the clubs who played it safe in 2014-15. These clubs seemed to do little, design-wise, in revamping their kits, instead hewing to a conservative path of sticking with what they perceive to be working. Yawn. I mean, sure, sometimes you just want your club to stick with a look that works, but sometimes a design is just uninspiring and needs an overhauling, rather than a repeat.

Hannover 96

Hannover 96's new kits for 2014-15.
Hannover 96’s new kits for 2014-15.

Yawn. These guys are wearing their training gear, right? Right? Monochromatic monotony. Plain white, plain black, plain red. Don’t get me wrong: sometimes simplicity is dazzling effective in design, but these kits are dull. No accents or detailing means the whole look fades into the background. Come on, H96. You paid designers for this?

Hamburger SV

Hamburger SV's kits for 2014-15.
Hamburger SV’s kits for 2014-15.

An improvement over H96, but still not terribly exciting. The away kit looks very familiar. (Why bother with a new one?) The home kit is safely within the realm of what’s expected for an HSV kit. I do kinda like the vertical “airlines” stripe cutting down the middle, but its impact will be decreased when you slap on the sponsor logo. Safe and solid. No risks for HSV. Much like the season the club’s supporters are surely hoping for after last year’s nightmare.

Mainz 05

Mainz 05's kits for 2014-15.
Mainz 05’s kits for 2014-15.

Again, I’m not sure why Mainz bothered with new kits (oh that’s right, fans have to shell out scores of Euros for these shirts …). The white kit looks like some generic “blank canvas” tee shirt on which mock up designs are slapped down, except the designers forgot to put something down. At least the red shirt has the smart touches of white collar and sleeves (although nearly as attractive as SCF’s look). Ditto on the black shirt. However, even with the white touches, the whole look is definitely staid, as I’ve now begged my own question.

Schalke 04

Schalke's new home kit for 2014-15.
Schalke’s new home kit for 2014-15.

In my book, this shirt almost pushes itself out of the staid and into the winning category. Almost. The shirt hints at bold and striking, but settles on the expected. The overall designs comes off a bit simplistic to me with the sparse white and predominant blue. Perhaps some colored cuff accents or piping, etc. along the sides would have helped.

However, there’s much to like about this shirt. First, the textured ribbing. Love it. Although I would have gone for something more pronounced with more “pop.” Second, the buttons. Classy and retro. But maybe they needed to be another color? Just guessing out loud here, Leute … Certainly one of the best staid designs though.

FC Köln

FC Koeln home and away kits for 2014-15.
FC Koeln home and away kits for 2014-15.

FC-Koln-Jersey-2014-2015

I dunno, perhaps I’d forgotten about the Billy Goats working their asses off in 2.Liga the last couple seasons, but these kits feel oh-so-familiar to me. I mean, when I imagine the archetypal Köln kit, something like does come to mind. Sure, there’s nothing really wrong with this approach, The design is solid, coherent, and respectable. Just not terribly interesting.

However, I do like retro vibe and a touch like the off-kiltered diagonal red in the home kit. Pretty damn cool shoulder detailing, too. Billy goatees? Heh heh.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt home and away kits for 2014-15.
Eintracht Frankfurt home and away kits for 2014-15.

Another borderline design. There’s a lot to like, but also some head-scratching elements. Strip away the crest, logos, etc. and I like the foundation. Yeah, the home kit’s vertical red and blank stripes are staid (AC Milan wants their kit back), so I would have liked to see something more unique done with them. However, squint your eyes and Eintracht mostly looks unchanged.

I do like the black detailing on that that away kit though. But that Alfa Romeo sponsor logo clutters the whole thing up, destabilizing the look. Something like that.

Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen home kit for 2014-15.
Bayer Leverkusen home kit for 2014-15.

Leverkusen is one a few clubs who only changed the home shirt (like Schalke 04). And like Schalke, this shirt was just a notch below “winning” in my mind. So much potential. I like the red hoops. Just with more contrast, e.g. darken the hue of one. Otherwise, with the squint test, this shirt looks very very familiar, but with wimpy black detailing. Poor Leverkusen isn’t helped by their sponsor’s distracting billboard either.

Overall, it’s a timid revision of the home kit. If I wasn’t writing this piece, I would have no idea the kit had been redesigned when watching their matches.

 

Huh?

This category features designs that just don’t work. There’s some “staid gone wrong” here and some bold failures. The latter type could definitely be “winning” to certain aesthetic proclivities, just not mine. Despite the kits, we will promise love these clubs anyway.

VfB Stuttgart

VfB Stuttgart kits for 2014-15.
VfB Stuttgart kits for 2014-15.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh, but it looks like VfB simply swapped horizontal color swatches – “hey look, let’s try the red swatch on the white kit, and …. vice-versa!” I’m just not a fan of the repetition. Besides, this horizontal swatch business just does strange things with the sponsor logo, giving the whole thing an unfinished look.

I know these kits aren’t the worst thing on the pitch ever, and that many of you would’ve put them in the “staid” category, but categories are constricting for a reason and I was left with more head scratching than anything else for VfB’s new kits.

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund home kit for 2014-15.
Borussia Dortmund home kit for 2014-15.

“Go bold or die tryin’!” has been the BVB kit design motto for a few years now, so I appreciate the pop art-like audacity of BVB’s newest home kit creation. (I skipped over the away kit, which I actually like, since I’m reviewing it on another site later.) But man, have you tried pulling off the bold Gelb and stark Schwarz of the Dormtund home kit around your neighborhood lately? Sun glasses are needed for everybody.

I bet some of you love this new home kit. It’s a polarizing design. I just can’t quite stomach it. The black half-chevron lines remind me of construction tape or road work signage too much; plus, I don’t like how half the kit has the stripes and the other is plain yellow. It’s bold stuff! It has movement. It’s dynamic. But it’s also too incoherent and confusing for me. These guys will look dizzying on the pitch, I bet, puting Kloppo’s gegen-press into hyperdrive.

SC Paderborn

SC Paderborn away and home kit for 2014-15.
SC Paderborn away and home kit for 2014-15.

Paderborn-14-15-Home-Kit

Welcome to the Bundesliga, Paderborn! But wow. Just wow. That away kit design is puzzling. Yellow and the browns? Oh, throw in the colors of the crest, shirt maker, and sponsor. It’s a mess. The brown hoops are too understated and simply don’t go with the yellow detailing.

The home kit isn’t as messy, but it looks like questionable early 2000s kit aesthetics + the squarish designs of semi-pro kits. And the messiness of some Central or South American club kits, festooned with sponsor logos and puzzling lines. Dear Paderborn, I want to see you stay up just to see what kit improvements you conceive. Still, we love you. Good luck!

Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin kits for 2014-15.
Hertha Berlin kits for 2014-15.

Intriguing, but very puzzling. Somewhat like the BVB kit, BSC goes bold, but ultimately fails, I think. The customary blue-white home kit looks unfinished – perhaps it’s those thick blue lines? – and flat. Almost 2-D, if that makes any sense. The away kit is just a somewhat muddled execution of the same concept, which is hurt by the lack of contrast between the thick dark grey/blue and black stripes.

I’m torn. I like the direction of this design, just not this current version. So much potential! Some bold strokes are in it, but the whole thing just doesn’t hang together or look finished.

 

?@#%#&!

There has to be one of these clubs every year. This club wins the “What the hell happened down there?” award for their kit “design.” Perhaps this category is really the hipster kit of the year, because only a hipster’s inversion of status quo tastes could rescue this disaster.

Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim kits for 2014-15.
Hoffenheim kits for 2014-15.

Wow. These three shirts are for the same club, right? Poor Roberto Firmino (above right). I hope he was given a bonus for wearing that red, yelow, and logo-cluttered mess. My Hoffenhein kit history knowledge is thin, so I’m just going to presume that Firmino is wearing a “throwback” design from the past. (I hope I’m right!)

Eugen Polanski gets the home kit. But this kit is incoherent and cluttered with logos and lines. Plus, the tattoos only add to the visual mess. Polanski’s shirt is a battleground of blue and white – which color wins? And that white neck ring detail looks likes a mock collar gone wrong.

At least Andreas Beck gets to wear a relatively clean and coherent kit. No wonder his smile nearly breaks his cheeks.

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Travis serves as an editor and regular columnist here. He writes for Howler magazine's website, as well as The Short Pass where he covers the USL and other topics. Born and groomed in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Travis is a college English instructor in Pittsburgh. Coffee, books, and sports are his passions. His writing has also appeared in Bloomberg Sports, the Good Man Project, and his former blog, Sportisourstory.tumblr.com, and elsewhere. He tweets at @tptimmons. Heja BVB!

1 Comment

  1. As a Gladbach fan I love the jersey… I am also happy that Cologne’s away jersey sucks.

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