Find out about the process of designing and producing our Umbro kits
- Find out more about the production of Town’s kits
- Answers from Town’s technical partner Umbro
- The planning for each kit starts two years in advance!
Did you know that planning for Town’s kits starts a full two years before you get to wear them to games?
The release of new strips is one of the most hotly anticipated dates in Town’s calendar, and we’ve teamed up with Umbro to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the process.
Q: When does the planning start for the new kit?
A: Robin Dunn (Head of Performance, Umbro)
Planning for seasonal kits can start around 24 months prior to them being released to the supporters, with us (Umbro) beginning by looking at certain industry and fashion trends globally, as well as looking at any specific ‘Umbro identity’ for that particular season that will be incorporated across our portfolio of clubs.
Typically, the planning for new seasonal kits with football clubs will start around 18 months in advance of them being launched. This means, for example, the planning for Huddersfield Town’s 2020/21 kits begun at the beginning of 2019, during the 2018/19 season – it’s a long process!
The reason for the extensive timeline is because of all the touch points and the collaboration that goes into designing and finalising product, not only for the outfield playing kits, but also goalkeepers and training wear for both players and staff. Ensuring that they all complement each other and comply with certain league regulations.
Q: How are they designed? Who comes up with them?
A: Robin Dunn
We begin with a workshop for each club to look at key inspirations and relevant club anniversaries which can influence a kit, as well as present our Umbro story, identity and position for that season. This is a crucial part of the process as we always want to work in full collaboration with a club and draw on their extensive knowledge,
and that of their fans.
Off the back of that, we get to work! We have a team of dedicated replica designers that extensively use relevant research & information gathered through those workshops, as well as future trends & colour pallets, to start building a club-by-club and kit-by-kit overview which will go through internal checkpoints along the way.
What is also taken into consideration is how all three kits work together not only for commercial purposes, to create a set of kits that appeal to all, but also form an on-pitch point of view as various regulations that differ between leagues mean teams must have different options when they’re playing games on the road, or in European competitions.
After the design process is completed internally, the new kits are presented back to clubs and any refinement can openly be discussed and debated between us and the club to ensure we have, what we feel, are a worthy set of kits for fans, and players.
Typical kits are agreed by the end of that year, and orders are placed, meaning there is a healthy production, shipping and delivery period of around four to six months before the kits are released to fans.
Q: In terms of production, talk us through how a kit is produced step by step.
A: Robin Dunn
Once a kit is signed off, we then start working with our suppliers to bring all the elements together, whether that’s a certain colour of fabric, type of graphic, new style of neckline or any new technology or fabrics that are being used.
Again, this is another collaborative relationship as we make our way through certain check points and sign offs to confirm that what we are proposing, can be achieved. We have dedicated fabric and quality control experts that work with the designers and factories over the course of weeks and months to ensure that we are in a position to sign off with clubs six to eight months after the initial workshop, which is when clubs will be presented with a physical sample of the jerseys to be approved.
From approval, it’s further work with our suppliers with things like relevant sponsors for that season developed and signed off as and when clubs confirm.
There will be varying partial and full jersey samples that are supplied throughout the process so our team in the UK can ensure that the kits are just as we and the club want them to be.
Q: How hard is it to add little details onto the kit that make them bespoke to clubs?
A: Robin Dunn
This is what we pride ourselves on at Umbro, so it’s part of the overall process. It’s not a secondary thought to ‘add’ something along the way, we prefer to work in full collaboration with the clubs to understand what they would like to see on their jerseys. This ensures there are elements that supporters can identify with whether that’s a specific graphic, back of neck sign off, or club name on the back of the playing socks. It’s the small details that allow us to stand out.
Q: How does the shirt help player performance? What are the technologies?
A: Robin Dunn
Whilst so much goes into the design of the kits to ensure they create new stories season on season, we can’t forget that their main purpose is to be worn on field and perform for the 90 minutes.
Through the years that Umbro have being producing footy kits we have learnt a great deal about the best fabrics to use in both weight and texture to ensure they have the best characteristics. This means ensuring, we select fabrics which wick moisture away from the body, but not too quick that the shirt becomes heavy.
Fabrics lightweight enough that they aren’t hindering movement, but not too light that they don’t stand up to the rigors of the game. And, one of the biggest factors to consider is how comfortable the Jersey feels. Every seam and how it’s finished needs to be considered. The last things the guys on the pitch need is to be distracted by the Kit they’re wearing.
The goal is that when combined with modern day base layers, players don’t feel like they are wearing a jersey at all.
Q: Once the kit is produced, what’s the next step in terms of pictures and so on?
A: Jonathan McCourt (UK Marketing Manager, Umbro)
Much like the design process, the planning that goes into a kit launch is lengthy and well thought out. Once the kit is signed off the creative discussion between Umbro and the club begins as we start to think about how we will execute the kit launch.
Again, as per the kit design process, this is very collaborative as we look to work with the clubs to deliver a bespoke kit launch that has an overall Umbro identity. Ultimately, we offer bespoke kits, and we want that to run through the launch campaigns as well.
Most photoshoots take place towards the end of that current season as samples start to arrive, and the window of player access becomes shorter and shorter as we head towards the remaining games. It can be quite challenging logistically based on a club’s playing schedule, current league status, injuries, end of seasonal activity and so on, but we always manage to make it work!
As you can imagine, as the kits are confidential, these photoshoots must be well planned, and risk assessed to avoid any unnecessary kit leaks. In the last few years we have moved away from ‘traditional’ kit launches as we move towards a ‘lifestyle’ approach with the look and feel of the images, in and around identifiable areas for fans and with more relaxed imagery (which puts the players at ease).
Once the key content and images are captured then we move onto defining when kits will be launched including, teases, releases and on-sale dates. Again, as you can imagine, there are many varying factors that can influence when kits are released and we (Umbro) take the lead from our clubs and work with them to achieve those desirable dates.
It’s the best part of the job!