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PEC Zwolle

For this project, the club I'm going to be looking at is PEC Zwolle who currently play their football in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Formed in 1910 following the merger of two other clubs and playing in various combinations of green and white, Zwolle eventually made their way into the top flight in the late 1970s but the debts they accrued in trying to maintain this status led to a period of decline and eventually the club were declared bankrupt in 1990.

A revived club was established with a new name – FC Zwolle – and as part of this fresh start the team's colours were also changed. The traditional green and white shirts were relegated to away kit status and instead the new team turned out in blue and white hoops. 

Since the revival, the club has had a couple of brief spells in the Eredivisie – indeed, they play there currently after winning promotion last season as Eerste Divisie champions. Shortly after winning the Championship, the announcement was made that the club's name would revert back to PEC Zwolle once more.

As mentioned, Zwolle have played in blue and white hoops since their reformation in 1990, with the green and white they wore prior to bankruptcy retained as their away strip. The old colour scheme is still popular with supporters, with the pinstriped 'Dr Schupp' sponsored version from the early 1980s being a particular favourite.

Initial Designs

Without a notable anniversary or trophy win to commemorate, I instead took my inspiration from a combination of past kits and the identity of the city itself.

One thing I wanted to highlight was an unusual nickname shared by the club and the city's residents, Blauwvingers (Bluefingers). The nickname dates back to a story from the 17th century when Zwolle sold a set of damaged church bells to a neighbouring city for a very high price. When the buyers realised the bells were useless and couldn't be played, they got their revenge by making the payment in the smallest denomination coins possible. The Zwolle authorities were so distrustful that they counted the money over and over again to ensure that they weren't being cheated, with the result that the copper coins stained their fingers blue.

With this in mind, I came up with a couple of home and away kit options incorporating the nickname in the form of a fingerprint graphic alongside a couple of nods to the Zwolle coat of arms.

Home Kit: Option 1

A fairly straightforward design using PEC Zwolle's traditional hoops with a nod to the city's flag in the side ventilation panels.

Home Kit: Option 2

Another hoop-based shirt, but this time using a non-traditional irregular design.

Home Kit: Option 3

As a third option, I went with a bit of a departure from tradition and instead opted for a Parma-esque design inspired by the city flag and coat of arms. The club very much wishes to be seen as a representation of its home city, playing in a shirt showing off its coat of arms is the ultimate way of letting opponents know exactly where the team is from. It also echoes the flags and banners displayed by fans at the club's matches.

Away Kit: Option 1

For the first of my two away kit options, I went with a design based on the green pinstriped shirts worn by the club in the early 1980s. Most of the images I found from that period showed the team in matching green shorts, however I preferred to pair the green shirts and socks with white shorts to break the look of the kit up a bit.

Away Kit: Option 2

The second kit was inspired by those worn during the 1963-64 season. I have no explanation as to why the first team squad all trooped off to the banks of the IJssel for a spot of fishing, but the look of banded shirts like these is one I like and I thought it would be an interesting design to reintroduce exactly 50 years after the original.

Final Designs

Before I worked up my final kit designs, I put some thought into the typography to be used on the back of the shirts. Unlike the some other leagues (such as the Premier League and MLS), the Eredivisie doesn't have a standardised font for shirt numbering so this was an opportunity to add an extra piece of personalisation to my kits.

In the end I took my inspiration from the banners and flags displayed by supporters. Looking through shots of the crowd, a number of these banners looked to have been created using stencils so I made a few modifications to a font that was a reasonable match.

Home Kit

The concept I chose to run with was the shirt based on the City's flag. I added in a few extra details from the initial drawings – the mesh vent on the back is shaped to echo the cross design on the front, and the city crest is printed below the collar.

Beneath the crest is the slogan Desespereert Nimmer (Never Despair), taken from the name of one of the two teams which merged to form the current club – Ende Desespereert Nimmer (And Never Despair). 2014 will be the 110th anniversary of this club's founding and – as well as being a rather cool name in its own right – the 'never despair' attitude seemed to be a good fit for a club with a rather inglorious history but which can hopefully look forward with a degree of positivity.

As well as the kit itself, I also came up with an idea for the captain's armband – like the shirt numbering, the Eredivisie doesn't have a standard-issue armband so clubs can provide their own. I based the design on the flag of Overijssel, the province of which Zwolle is the capital.

Away Kit

I opted for the pinstripe option for the away kit, as per the home the crest and slogan have been added to the collar on the back of the shirt.

Third Kit

However, I decided to develop the other away option as a third kit. Again, the crest and slogan have been added to the collar and – like the home shirt – I've echoed the front design on the back with mesh vent. Initially I tried extending the band completely around the shirt and pairing this with black numbers, but unfortunately the contrast between the dark green and black wasn't great enough so I opted for a plain back.

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