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Marceltipool Away Kit

Marceltipool (DEFINITELY no "FC") is a London-based football club I dreamt up back in 2008 with a desire to provide Olympique de Marseille fans ("Mar"), Celtic fans ("celti") and Liverpool fans ("pool") in the English capital with a team to play for and garner a community of supporters based around the ties between the teams.

I am a fan of all three inspiration teams but the club evolved to become more inclusive; not ruling out willing participants who weren't fans of at least one of the three, but rather opening the doors to anyone who could bear to wear the M, the four-leaved clover and the Liver Bird on their chest.

Sadly, after only friendly matches played, the club has been on hiatus, mainly due to my own departure from London.  I still harbour hopes of the club's return...

The Project

The Marceltipool theoretical Home kit consists of a white shirt with a green and white hooped left sleeve, white shorts with a blue stripe and red socks, all with the potential for further embellishment.  The Away kit is entirely up in the air so this project lends itself to coming up with something suitable when a change is required.

Mood Board #1 - Colour? - 25/4/13

The first, and possibly most important question for an Away kit is surely what colour it should be.  Having the histories of three clubs means a far larger range of immediate inspiration but also means there are more things to avoid in terms of rivalries.

Below I have presented different colour options.  There are exceptions; ties with St Pauli could have been exploited with a brown kit, or the failsafe black could have been considered, but having a neutral white at home I decided something more vibrant should be required as an alternative.

So given the importance of a first ever Away kit, I needed a colour that can represent the club's values as well as the clubs' histories and traditions.

The obvious option was green.  As a colour synonymous with Celtic - on the Home kits and classic Aways - via roots in Ireland, which also has ties with Liverpool through supporter base and a history of Irish players achieving great success at the club, it would seem a no brainer.  However, Liverpool have a chequered past when it comes to green Away kits - sometimes literally - and, more importantly, it is the colour of St Etienne (Les Verts) in France - not a major rival of l'OM per se, but certainly a no go area for a change or even goalkeeper kit across the channel.

Blue could be ruled out immediately.  It gets a tick in the pros column as a secondary Marseille colour but as the colour of Everton and (The) R*ngers it can only appear sparingly on a Marceltipool kit.

Purple or similar may have been an option but whilst it's great to find something that doesn't necessarily tread on toes we're looking for something that's tied to the clubs.  One horrendous Liverpool Third kit doesn't quite cut it.

Red obviously means everything to Liverpool fans and has become a staple choice for Marseille goalkeeper and captain Steve Mandanda.  Sadly, there are again connotations of Celtic's historical rivals - the Marceltipool Home socks are bad enough - and even the bitter memory of Rapid Vienna in all-red in 1984.  A bridge too far.

Orange I would so dearly have loved to have worked with.  Rarely called upon in anything more than trim for Liverpool, it has, however, become an honourary home colour for Marseille, inspired by the reversed bomber jackets of left-wing supporters in the 1980s and informing my favourite football shirt of all time, the 2007-08 Euro/Third.  Orange is also, of course, present on the Irish tricolour, so there is a link to Celtic, but its purpose on the Irish flag is to represent protestantism and, rightly or wrongly, the perceived small step to the Orange Order - and therefore perceived ties with R*ngers - will remain unpaletable for Celts for the foreseeable future.

So, somewhat via a process of elimination, the colour has to be a variant of yellow, often the choice for Celtic and Liverpool change kits, or gold, worn by l'OM, used in crest details for all three clubs and even appearing, controversially, in place of orange on some Irish flags.

Onto the next board...

Mood Board #2 - Shade? - 28/4/13

So having decided that a yellow or gold would be most appropriate, I'm now required to choose the shade/hue.  Things to consider include the relationship of particular tones with the club and clubs - as before - and also the more general connotations of using yellow or gold.

Both yellow and gold have links to all the inspiration clubs, with the exception of yellow at l'OM.  The thinking behind this is most likely - like with the eschewing of green - due to an assocation with another famous French team.  Lens are fervently supported and whilst officially they wear "Sang et Or" (blood and gold) the look is not generally metallic and rather seems to be a standard yellow (with some exceptions).

So whilst Celtic and Liverpool have historically worn yellow or a dirty yellow-looking "gold" - and the latter also had a great lost yellow kit in 2011-12 - I'm actually quite glad to go for something in the rarely seen glossy finish.

Crest details have often been rendered in the gold thread and Marseille wore gold for their centenary in 1998-99 but care must be taken to avoid slightly more ostentatious approaches from the likes of Bobby George, Goldie and, most dangerously, Jimmy Saville.

More positive comparisons can be made with a Barcelona Away shirt, recent subtle uses in Real and Swansea kits and the statue of Mother and Child atop the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica in Marseille.  UNAM Pumas also use gold but in a more subdued tone.

So there it is.  Without actually looking into the saleability via statistics, focus groups or a straw poll of any sort - no time or inclination for that - I've decided that gold, glossy but toned down in shade, is what's best to go for.  Looking at the Barça and Pumas kits, it's also clear that a secondary navy or black will be required to temper the overall effect.

So what form should the shirt design take?

Mood Board #3 - Design inspiration? - 28/4/13

Without question, I prefer the understated.  One quirk, one major design feature is enough.  When stripes are combined with hoops or sashes, if it's not done carefully, things can start to go wrong.  A bold design can be finished off with tiny details elsewhere but if it's not kept under control it can descend into overkill or even a gaudy mess.

Below are my design inspirations.  As much as less is more, too much less is less...and needs more.

My loves include collars - if done correctly they can be popped to wonderful effect for individualism, by the likes of Eric Cantona (though Ronaldo abandoned this approach with the cumbersome Real collar of last season) - alternate sleeves and baselayers.  I've also been fascinated to see how many shirt (short) sleeves are lengthening whilst staying slim cut.

The design conundrum of short-sleeved shirt (with baselayer) vs long-sleeved shirt has fascinated me, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Anzhi cleverly finding the middle ground this season, whilst Everton's kit ignored the issue entirely.  I might challenge myself to find the middle ground between the middle ground and the head in the sand approach.

Somehow, on a gold and, most likely, black kit, I will also need to include the blue, green and red of the club's origins.  It could be tricky but Nike's heat-transfer band as seen on the new France Away may be the way forward.

Below the waist, shorts are now cut tighter and undoubtedly worn in smaller sizes on the pitch, in keeping with the slimmer look of football kits in general.

So plenty to consider as I move onto my initial designs...

Initial Designs

For the first design stage I've decided to regress to childhood and formulate ideas via colouring pencil and paper.  I've put together three separate shirts, some shorts which vary only slightly and settled on socks I'm happy with.

The first kit, at top left, features a flappy seventies styled collar, in black with a blue, green and red edge, one black sleeve with the same blue, green and red stripe detail and is worn over the decidedly work-in-progress matching baselayer you see at bottom left.

I'm actually confident that the baselayer will look ok when I revert to CAD for the final design but I may tweak it.  Whatever final kit I go for I want to perfectly suit the baselayer - or rather the other way around.  I also believe in there being a market for baselayers, designed to suit specific shirts, to be bought for running/as general sportswear.  If it can be seen as a standalone product as well as accompaniment for a shirt that would be ideal.

The crest, at top right, again will benefit from being rendered via a design application but I did think that the original crest was too brightly coloured to suit the Away kit palette.  The compromise is to translate the design into gold on black, with respective colours outlining the different features.  All in gold would not have kept the emblems distinct.

On this shirt the crest is framed in a black square - very rarely seen - repeated on the shorts which have the stripe detail bordered by a thicker black strip - necessary to distinguish the colours from the gold.  The socks have the coloured stripe as a hoop on the otherwise black turnover.

The second shirt has a fully black left sleeve with the stripe detail running its length - no stripe on the opposite sleeve - and the black covering half of the chest to house the gold crest.  The collar here isn't shown clearly but is "popped", has a similar colouring to the previous design but is now more like the last Umbro England shirt's collar (or several current Puma shirts).  The detail is something I might like to develop in the final design.

The third shirt has a very different approach, eschewing the alternate-coloured sleeve for black cuffs and an overlapping V-neck with coloured stripe detail.  All the kits are slim cut.

The next step is to choose one of the designs above and build on it, perhaps salvaging some elements from the discarded options, and add sponsor and manufacturer logos.

Incidentally, whilst working on this stage I stumbled across something that I had completely forgotten.  A couple of years ago a designer picked up the Marceltipool concept and came up with a kit for the side, as it turns out following virtually identical logic to mine above (http://bit.ly/10kEZxD).  I'd love to say it's a coincidence but I assume I've subconsciously been inspired by that project, so that was quite a disheartening realisation but on we go... 

Final Kit Design and Promotion - 18/5/13

As I was in the process of finalising my kit design another coincidence caught my attention.  The Milan Third kit was launched, featuring a palette virtually identical to the one I have settled on - it just includes a very small amount of white rather than blue.  Here's a few of the reactions to it on FootballShirtCulture.com:

Now, we have to assume that adidas and Milan conducted market research of some description and it may well be that within the primary target markets the response is very different (Italians flash? Never!) but it does remind me of my early throwaway comment:

"Without actually looking into the saleability via statistics, focus groups or a straw poll of any sort - no time or inclination for that - I've decided that gold, glossy but toned down in shade, is what's best to go for."

No time or inclination?  Perhaps if I'd had both then I'd have chosen a different route so this is an example of when kit design has to choose between being self-confident and stubborn or pragmatic.  That's the reality of the industry, and a reminder that this isn't it.

So, bypassing public opinion - for one thing those Milan Third shorts are perfection - this is what I came up with:

The design I chose from the initial sketches was a mix of two.  I elected to keep the stripe strip on both sleeves, with the black left sleeve as the contrast.  The starting point was the long-sleeved shirt as although I'm a fan of baselayers I do believe their combination with the short-sleeved variant should follow the look of the long-sleeved shirt and not the other way around.

The cuff detail is subtle - crucially NOT a full cuff which, on the short-sleeved shirt, would break the continuity when worn with the baselayer.

The collar apes that of the last Umbro England Home shirt and recent Puma releases - fully "poppable" and rigid when turned up.

This design also hints at a yoke which is another shirt feature I love.

For the baselayer I tried to put together a design piece in its own right, ideally something that could be marketable as a running top or gymwear.  The primary function is to create the desired look when combined with the short sleeved shirt but with the halves design and deconstruction of the Marceltipool crest I've attempted to inject a character of its own.  Whether I've put together something that anyone would go running in or dare to be seen in is probably debatable but we all know the journey is far more important than the destination.

When combined with the short-sleeved shirt the right upper sleeve details align and provides the basic impression of the long-sleeved shirt but with its own twist.

The shorts and socks continue the themes of the shirt, ensuring the completed look is entirely cohesive.

In terms of a marketing campaign, I've gone with a simple approach centred around the "Always Believe In Your Soul" slogan.  For anyone who doesn't get the reference, it's a line lifted from the Spandau Ballet song Gold.  It's probably not big or clever but as a sentiment it's pretty positive and avoids the more ostentatious connotations of gold as a colour and commodity - it also compares favourably with the likes of "Stoke ELECTRICity".

So that's my kit project.  Weeks overdue, at times disjointed but I got there in the end and had a huge amount of fun doing it.

I really enjoyed going through the processes that a fantasy kit designer would generally ignore or skip or certainly wing.  It was definitely eye-opening and it's obvious now that you take any stage lightly at your peril.  Undoubtedly, I have even further respect for the industry and the professionals for the graft that needs to be demonstrated in order to put forward a well-received piece.

Massive thanks to Stewart Scott-Curran for making this available to us and it's been great to see so many wonderful projects put forward.

Update - 18/5/13

I've just watched the final lecture - after having uploaded my final designs - and it just shows how much you forget about the design process when you're in a rush to complete a project, so here's a few important details I forgot.

Firstly, I intended the sleeve strips to consist of black material with a coloured heat transfer, similar to what we see on a lot of Nike shirts' cuffs (sometimes the underside).  The construction of the shirt, i.e. how many panels etc, I haven't considered too much as I focused on the overall look rather than the performance technology side but I guess seams at the shoulder and the chest divided up to allow for the black panel - all very low profile.

As for the way in which the other details were applied, the DF manufacturer logo and the sponsor I imagined to be plastic heat transfers whereas the crest is fully embroidered (with backing to avoid irriation on the inside).

On the baselayer all the details are very thin heat transfers and the different paneling effect could perhaps be sublimated to avoid irritation through seams.

One detail I did want to include but haven't shown is a very small repeat of the crest deconstruction from the baselayer, but all in black and located just below the collar on the back.

So now I really should be done.  Thanks again to Stewart.

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