Visit Citebite Deep link provided by Citebite
Close this shade

Design Football Memebrs Blog

Apr 19

The Brands With The Three Stripes

Posted by Jay29ers in Untagged 


As I have mentioned before, somewhat unconvincingly, the "football" in "football design" doesn't have to refer to association football.  There are several other codes which fall under that umbrella term.

I've already covered rugby and there is of course plenty to write about in Australian Rules football and American Football, but this time I'll focus on the Gaelic Athletic Association's version of the sport and its virtually synonymous primary kit manufacturer, O'Neills.

O'Neills Sportswear was established in 1918 and has produced playing wear for Ireland's top teams - whatever the pursuit - ever since.  In addition, O'Neills has been the supplier of choice for much of the world's Gaelic sport teams - and there are plenty - and currently even provides FC United of Manchester with their strip.

In fact, O'Neills has hit the kit design headlines recently due to a shirt made for a Gaelic football (and hurling) club based in London - St Mary's University College.  It's a beautiful piece of work, and destined to become a cult classic due to being sponsored by Buckfast - a tonic wine particularly beloved by the Scots and Irish, but it does have two flaws.

The first issue I take with the shirt is a general concern regarding the sleeves.  O'Neill's has constantly been the subject of rumour surrounding its use of the three stripes on its items, but these - or certainly two of the three - are missing from the St Mary's shirt.  Aesthetically it matters little - it arguably would be an unnecessary addition, but it is an omission brought by limitation rather than choice.

The fantastic GAA kit blog Pride In The Jersey by Denis Hurley puts this far better than I ever could, but the omission is as a result of court proceedings whereby the German sportswear giant adidas attempted to block O'Neills from using the three stripes.  The Irish company prevailed in their own land, meaning anything designed to be worn and sold on the island of Ireland could carry the distinctive markings, but for everything sent overseas at least one stripe should be removed - even to the extent of O'Neills producing foreign versions of their domestic range, which inevitably leads to many people ordering the original version and having it delivered to an Irish address and then asking a kind soul to foward it on.

In this world of common markets, intercontinental trade and the internet, it seems staggering that adidas do not go further and try to get a European decision to overrule the Irish courts, especially with O'Neills apparently being particularly brazen in some of their adidas-lite designs over the years.

The truth may be more complicated.  adidas has a significant history in Ireland - not least through the A-list designs it bestowed upon Cork City via the nearby factory (available for your perusal thanks to, again, Denis Hurley) and it wouldn't surprise me if there was regular liaison between adidas and O'Neills' marketing and design teams and perhaps even licensing of outdated templates with slight variations.

Where the similarity ends, certainly in recent years, also provides the second problem I have with the St Mary's shirt.  Sublimation is a cheap printing technique now generally only used - in anything other than watermarks or patterns - by downmarket teamwear brands.  Unfortunately, and despite a range including some glorously embroidered crests, sublimation is the most common approach in most of O'Neills kits, for badges and sponsors.  This is a real pity as so many details would look far superior if even heat transfers were applied rather than one piece of material containing all the features of the shirt.

But on the whole this is a minor gripe.  The shirt has a cult standing to compare with many from the association football world and the conundrum of O'Neills/adidas continues to entertain me far more than it should.  The only thing left is to decide who in Ireland I can get to send me O'Neills' version of the 1993-95 Liverpool home socks.

Follow Jay29ers on twitter


Comments (2)

Subscribe to this comment's feed
Hey Jay,
You made some interesting points above, but your comments on sublimation are hugely inaccurate...

"Sublimation is a cheap printing technique now generally only used - in anything other than watermarks or patterns - by downmarket teamwear brands."

Out of all of Nike's club kits this season (Globally), there are only around 5 shirts that are not sublimated.
So around 95% of their kits ARE sublimated.
It's actually the most common way of executing graphics, stripes, hoops etc.

Johnny Wishbone , April 24, 2012
Sorry, when I say "in anything other than watermarks and patterns", I'm actually including hoops, stripes, sashes and the like. I should have made that clearer.

What I have a problem with is sublimation being used for badges and sponsors - though I'm ok with sublimated sponsors on shorts. I would say virtually all of Nike & adidas's range use either embroidered or, now far more commonly, heat transferred/printed badges and heat transferred sponsors.

I was also a little bit harsh in the derogatory way I spoke about teamwear brands that sublimate badges and sponsors. For a lot of amateur teams this offers the most cost-effective solution - with embroidered/heat-transferred badges/sponsors also provided as an option - so I should have considered that rather than focusing entirely on my own sartorial preference.
Jay29ers , May 15, 2012

Write comment

smaller | bigger
security image
Write the displayed characters

You are here: