With the 2011/12 French football season little more than two months away, we begin a new series looking at the latest kits to hit the online club shops for teams in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
Auxerre (home) 2011/12
AJA have hardly set the world on fire with this new strip by Airness. Unless this is supposed to be an ironic doff of the beret towards the pub team kits of the early 90’s, one has to say this new outfit reeks of mediocrity.
A big blue and white winged collar and some thin blue piping down the sides of the shirt are about all you get for your money here, apart from some noticeably baggy shorts. If you’re looking for fireworks of the fashionable kind, you’ll be sadly disappointed. At least with the outgoing kit there were some pinstripes to capture the imagination, and even they, one could argue, lacked any originality.
Though some kit connoisseurs will say that less is more, I would have to disagree in this case. The designers clearly came up with this while sat on the toilet during a particularly brief comfort break, and for that they should be overlooked in favour of a better manufacturer next time around.
Score: 2 out of 10
Rennes (home) 2011/12
Now this is more like it. A distinctive black diagonal stripe set against the blood red shirt body provides a deserved and unambiguous focus on the design itself, which is exactly as it should be. A simple black v-neck collar is another smart touch while the black shorts have a red cut-away on the left leg – not unlike we’ve seen on other recent Puma strips. The black socks with red trim complete a lovely, simple but stylish kit for Les Rouges et Noir.
Diagonal stripes seem to be making their biggest comeback since the heady days of the 1970’s when all manner of teams donned the slanted sash on their strips. As we can all see, they provide an interesting device that more often than not lights up even the most traditional of kits.
Top marks for effort, Puma. This just goes to show how you can balance a universal, sleek design with modernity without falling foul of the over-fussy complications seen on other kits.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Marseille (home) 2011/12
Now here’s an interesting design from Adidas who, let’s face it, lurch wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous in their output. This is very much the sort of shirt design that Auxerre could have had if they’d forked out more 15 Euros to their suppliers – pleasing on the eye, simple and sexy.
What L’OM can look forward to next season is a lovely white shirt with an unfussy cyan trim around the collar and cuffs, the usual three stripes along the sleeves in the same colour, but most noticeably a series of feint diagonal bands covering the chest which, when examined at closer quarters, are themselves made up of lots of cyan lines.
So often this kind of thing can be badly executed but Adidas have done a wonderful job of creating a shadow pattern that is just visible enough to warrant further interest but not subtle to the point of being invisible. The shorts and socks are understated in white with a dash of cyan to complete a fine ensemble for the 2009/10 champions.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Marseille (away) 2011/12
Away from home, Marseille have retained their strong two-tone cyan outfit, albeit using a different pattern on the shirt to last season’s tartan affair. This time we have a deeper, darker shade of cyan which, between the sleeves, is largely blotted out by busy and indistinct markings that actually look quite good. There’s even some gold trim around collar and cuffs which, while bringing back uneasy memories of Portsmouth’s last season in the Premier League, still looks acceptable for the purpose.
While not being a classic in any way shape or form, this is a reasonable look for an away kit. Adidas have clearly kept their best design for the home kit, but this will look jolly nice all the same when Didier Deschamps takes his loyal charges across the continent in the Champions League next season. The shorts and socks, like those of the home kit, reflect the main colour of the shirt and round off a well above-average effort by Adidas.
Score: 8 out of 10
Saint-Etienne (home) 2011/12
It may have been something of a shock to see Les Verts switch from plain green shirts to half-and-half two-tone green shirts this season, but that’s probably nothing compared to a variation on the theme for next season – two-tone green stripes.
Yes, Adidas have hit the Random button once again and come up with this rather decent effort which breathes new life into an ever-changing outfit for the team from the Rhône-Alpes region. Using a plain white fold-down collar and some nifty tweaking of the traditional stripe styling, the German manufacturer has given Saint-Etienne a great-looking shirt for those games at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
As with the Marseille kits, the shorts and socks are fairly standard and non-showy in design. The shorts are white with green trim along the bottom of the legs with green Adidas stripes down the sides, while the socks are green with dark green tops and three white Adidas stripes.
All in all, another nice effort from Adidas. Who’da thought it?
Score: 8 out of 10
(This article is also available via French Football Weekly.)