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K League = Boring Kits?

As the K League clubs have released their 2016 kits over the last few weeks, one of the recurring sentiments seems to be the boring plethora of solid color kits. On gut instinct it does seem like there are more simple, solid color kits out this year, but is that really the case? And, are Korean clubs using them at a higher rate than in other leagues?

Types of kits
Solid: The most basic of basic. One color for the whole thing, or at least one color that dominates the shirt.

Stripes: Two alternating colors in a vertical pattern.

Hoops: Two alternating colors in a horizontal pattern.

Sash/Strip: One band that runs either vertically down the middle of the shirt, horizontally across the chest, or diagonally.

Four-square: Two colors in four squares on the front.

Two-tone/panel: Two colors (either completely different or just different tones) side by side (usually vertical).

Checkerboard: Like a checkerboard.

Other: Can be some combination or the above designs or something completely different.

K League Kits

*both Classic and Challenge*
Ansan: Ansan, hasn't (to my knowledge) released an image of their 2016 kit, but based on the past couple seasons they've gone with a diagonal strip.

Anyang: Solid purple with white collar.

Busan: Solid red.

Bucheon: Solid red.

Chungju: Yellow and black stripes.

Daegu: Solid sky blue with black trim.

Daejeon: Solid wine red.

Gangwon: Not officially released (to my knowledge), but seems like it'll be solid orange with thin orange hoops.

Goyang: Not officially released, and I haven't seen any hints. Last season they had a red kit with a blue strip down the left side.

Gwangju: Solid yellow with red trim.

Gyeongnam: Black and orange hoops.

Incheon: Mainly blue with thin black stripes.

Jeju: Solid orange.

Jeonbuk: Solid green with a green strip down the center.

Jeonnam: Mix of solid yellow upper top and black and yellow stripes on the bottom half.

Pohang: Red and black hoops.

Sangju: Red camo-style.

Seongnam: Solid black.

FC Seoul: Red and black stripes.

Seoul E-Land: Black and blue diagonal stripes.

Suwon FC: Blue and red stripes.

Suwon Samsung: Solid blue.

Ulsan Hyundai: Solid blue.

Obviously there is a little bit of wiggle room on what category a kit falls in. If the shirt has one main color and different colored sleeves is that solid, two-tone, or other? Different interpretations can lead to different results, but I think the general trend can still be interpreted.


K League









Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Ansan


X



Anyang X






Busan X






Bucheon X






Chungju
X





Daegu X






Daejeon X






Gangwon X






Goyang


X



Gwangju X






Gyeongnam

X




Incheon
X





Jeju X






Jeonbuk


X



Jeonnam






X
Pohang

X




Sangju






X
Seongnam X






Seoul
X





Seoul E-Land






X
Suwon FC
X





Suwon Samsung X






Ulsan X

11 4 2 3 0 0 0 3

47.83% 17.39% 8.70% 13.04% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 13.04%

The rare original looking kit. Sangju's camo kit.
As you can see in the chart above, many K League sides did use solid color shirts this season. Stripes and a sash or strip were also popular(ish). So, does that make the league boring? Well, to get a slightly better picture we need to compare it to other leagues. So, below you can see how shirts from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and J1 League compare to the K League.

Premier League


Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Arsenal X






Aston Villa X






Bournemouth
X





Chelsea X






Crystal Palace
X





Everton X






Leicester City X






Liverpool X






Man. City X






Man. United X






Newcastle
X





Norwich



X


Southampton
X





Stoke
X





Sunderland
X





Swansea X






Tottenham


X



Watford

X




West Brom
X





West Ham X

10 7 1 1 1 0 0 0

50.00% 35.00% 5.00% 5.00% 5.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%

Not a favorite (in terms of look) of mine, but Watford probably had the most original design in the Premier League.
Similar to the K League, the Premier League is dominated by solid color shirts with half the sides opting for style. Stripes were a close second in terms of the number with seven teams opting for stripes. Watford's gradient hoops, Spurs' sash, and Norwich's two-toned yellow-green number the only ones outside those two styles.

La Liga


Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Athletic Club
X





Atletico Madrid
X





Barcelona

X




Celta Vigo X






Deportivo La Coruna
X





Eibar
X





Espanyol
X





Getafe X






Granada

X




Las Palmas X






Levante
X





Malaga
X





Rayo Vallecano


X



Real Betis
X





Real Madrid X






Real Sociedad
X





Sevilla X






Sporting Gijon
X





Valencia X






Villarreal X

7 10 2 1 0 0 0 0

35.00% 50.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Rayo Vallecano's kit is pretty simple (and not that original) but in a league of solids and stripes it stands out.
Unlike the K League and Premier League, solid color kits (while still popular) were not the dominant style in La Liga. Instead stripes rule the roost in Spain's top division with half the clubs boasting striped numbers. Barcelona went hooped this year (as opposed to their traditional stripes) as did Granada. Rayo Vallenco was the only side to go with the sash look.

Bundesliga


Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Augsburg


X



Bayer Leverkusen

X




Bayern Munich X






Borussia Dortmund






X
Borussia M'Gladbach


X



Darmstadt X






Eintracht Frankfurt
X





Hamburg


X



Hannover X






Hertha Berlin
X





Hoffenheim






X
Ingolstadt
X





Koln X






Mainz X






Schalke X






Stuttgart


X



Werder Bremen X






Wolfsburg X

7 3 1 5 0 0 0 2

38.89% 16.67% 5.56% 27.78% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 11.11%

Kim Jin-su and Hoffenheim probably have the most original look in Germany.
Would we see something very different in Germany? Solid kits still had the most, but there was a more even distribution among other designs. The sash/strip design came second with five clubs, then stripes with three. BVB and Hoffenheim I classified as 'other' although Dortmund could in theory also be hooped as their kit boasted thin black strips across the front.

Serie A

Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Atalanta
X





Bologna
X





Carpi

X




Chievo






X
Empoli X






Fiorentina X






Frosinone X






Genoa



X


Hellas
X





Inter
X





Juventus
X





Lazio X






Milan
X





Napoli X






Palermo X






Roma X






Sampdoria X






Sassuolo
X





Torino X






Udinese X

9 8 1 0 1 0 0 1

45.00% 40.00% 5.00% 0.00% 5.00% 0.00% 0.00% 5.00%
The most original Serie A shirt belonged to Chievo Verona (image via Chievo Verona website).
Like the Premier League, Serie A kits generally only fell into two categories - solid and stripes. Carpi boasted a hooped look while Genoa put the thick strip across the front. The 'Flying Donkeys' of Chievo Verona were the only team to sport a truly different look with a yellow main, blue sleeves, and a blue graphic of a mounted knight(?) on the bottom corner.

Ligue 1


Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Angers
X





Bastia X






Bordeaux






X
Caen X






Ajaccio X






Guingamp X






Lille X






Lorient

X




Lyon






X
Marseille X






Monaco



X


Montpellier



X


Nantes X






Nice
X





PSG


X



Reims X






Rennes X






Saint-Etienne X






Toulouse
X





Troyes X

11 3 1 1 2 0 0 2

55.00% 15.00% 5.00% 5.00% 10.00% 0.00% 0.00% 10.00%

Eye pleasing? Not really, but certainly eye-catching. The 2016 Bordeaux kit.
French teams again went heavily with solid color kits. A smattering of striped, two-tone, and other kits here and there.

J1 League


Team Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
Albirex Niigata



X


Kashima Antlers



X


Avispa Fukuoka X






Shonan Bellmare


X



Yokohama F. Marinos X






Kawasaki Frontale
X





Gamba Osaka
X





Nagoya Grampus X






Jubilo Iwata



X


Omiya Ardija
X





Urawa Reds

X




Kashiwa Reysol

X




Sagan Tosu






X
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
X





Tokyo
X





Vegalta Sendai

X




Ventforet Kofu






X
Vissel Kobe X

3 6 3 1 3 0 0 2

16.67% 33.33% 16.67% 5.56% 16.67% 0.00% 0.00% 11.11%

Ventforet Kofu's wrapped stripe look was probably the most original J1 kit.
The J1 League offered the largest variety of shirt designs with a relatively small percentage (still 33.33%) of clubs opting for striped shirts. Only the four-square and checkered pattern (which didn't appear in any league) were absent.

Overall


Total Solid Stripes Hoops Sash/Strip Two-tone Four-square Checker Other
K League 11 4 2 3 0 0 0 3
Premier League 10 7 1 1 1 0 0 0
La Liga 7 10 2 1 0 0 0 0
Bundesliga 7 3 1 5 0 0 0 2
Serie A 9 8 1 0 1 0 0 1
Ligue 1 11 3 1 1 2 0 0 2
J1 League 3 6 3 1 3 0 0 2

58 41 11 12 7 0 0 10

41.73% 29.50% 7.91% 8.63% 5.04% 0.00% 0.00% 7.19%

A look across the leagues suggests that there is really a lack of variety in kit designs (the home ones at least) across the spectrum. Only in Japan and La Liga were solid kits not the dominant design choice, and only in Germany were solids and stripes not the two top options.

Korean clubs opted for solid kits in a slightly higher percentage than the average, but not by much and the Premier League, Serie A, and Ligue 1 all had a higher percentage than Korea did. I didn't do a statistical look at it, but the possible difference between the leagues and Korea's "dull" perception may be the details on the solid kits. Clubs like Ulsan, Suwon Samsung,  and many of the Challenge clubs had very solid shirts. Only a few, like Anyang, opted for a significant trim or detail coloring. Perhaps this is the difference.

My glance at the kit stats led me to one other question. Is the reason we have so many solid/striped kits simply because of tradition, or does it have to do with the company that makes the kit? In Europe Nike, Adidas, and Puma make the bulk of the kits in the top leagues, has this led to a reduction in the diversity of designs? An interesting look would be MLS where Adidas makes all the kits. Do leagues like Japan, where other companies like Umbro, Mizuno, Lotto, Errea, etc. still have a foothold have a wider variety of designs? Watch this space!

Do you have a favorite kit? What makes a good kit to you? Tradition? Originality? Share you kit thoughts in the comments below.

2 comments

  1. How many clubs does Hummel design for in K League? My fave is FC Seoul's red and black Addidas kit in 2010-2011. Simple yet sweet. Not really a fan of the Left Coq ones, although 2012 and this year's offering is decent. 2014/2015 was over designed' especially the numbers, but still better than a lot of other K League kits.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All time best kit in my opinion is Arsenl's 1995 Nike one. Red streaks of lightning awesome. Also, it lasted 13 years.

    ReplyDelete

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