For this edition of Kit Stories, we sit down with Rich Gordon, the creative director of Kicks to the Pitch. Rich takes us on his soccer fandom journey, starting as a first generation Jamaican American growing up in South Florida. We learn how his love and passion for the game as well as kits blossomed in 1998, and how certain kits really represent who he is today. From the Jamaica ’98 World Cup Kappa kit, to the O2 Arsenal Invincibles kit to a throwback Arsenal kit from 97′; all these kits play a part in Rich’s Kit Story.
On this episode of Unboxing we take a closer look at the women’s specific versions of the Copa 19.1 and the Predator 19.1 from adidas. These versions of adidas’s staple silos are made in women’s sizing and colorways reserved for the women’s pack. Thanks to World Soccer Shop and be sure to head over to WSS to pick up your pair.
Three lions, four birds, and a cross of the knights templar walk into a World Cup… The origins of global soccer crests is a tangled mess of lions, tigers, eagles and rosaries — as complex and intertwined as the beautiful game itself. Now that we’ve passed the knockout stages, here are a few of the best origin stories behind the sigils of our World Cup favorites.
JAPAN (The three-legged crow)
Japanese design culture has always a boasted a beauty rooted in being painstakingly well-considered. The nation’s soccer kits for their beloved “Samurai Blue” are no different. The JFA crest prominently depicts the Yatagarasu – the three-legged crow – who in Asian myth serves as a kind of avatar for divine intervention or a messenger from the gods. Under the crow’s front-most talon is, of course, the rising sun, emblematic of modern Japan. To this day, the winners of the “Emperor’s cup,” Japan’s oldest domestic trophy, are awarded a Yatagarasu emblem on their kit as a reward, further conflating Japanese monarchy with the divine.
MEXICO (El Tri)
El Tri’s current crest has been in rotation since ‘94 and shares the same eagle as the Mexican flag. But instead of the eagle perched on a cactus, it is instead rocking atop The Aztec calendar. That nod to the ancient Aztecs weaves a rich tapestry of Mexico’s indigenous iconography into the Passion and Orgullo (pride) of their soccer history.
Sometimes a simple pun, perhaps even a homonym, can stir up a symbol to last over 100 years. For many scholars, the fact that the Latin root for the region of Gaul (Gallus) was identical to the Latin word for the rooster (Gallus) served as a genuine LOL moment for the people of the Middle Ages. Oh, how these people would laugh at the pleasant coincidence while associating the Gauls with the attributes of a rooster: stubbornness and brazenness. Joke’s on them, the French would run with it and since 1909 Fédération Française de Football would march out onto the field of play with the proud rooster emblazoned over their heart. From Zizou and Thuram to Pogba and Griezmann, Les Bleus unleash the rooster’s crow of French culture and sport in 90-minute intervals.
The iconic yellow and green adorned with its five World Cup victory stars are as iconic a brand as any in sporting culture. Yet, because of how vibrant and decadent the crest is, the cross anchoring it all often hides in plain sight. A second look will begin to avail the similarities of the crest shape and cross to that of Portugal, as the cross in the middle is a nod to the Portuguese Templar Knights in the Order of Christ’s Cross who uncovered a large portion of South America for Europe. The crest as a whole serves as a reminder that while the language of the nation may be rooted in Europe, the flair and joy is something uniquely made up of Brazil.
ENGLAND (Three Lions)
Ahhh, the originators of heraldry. Masters of lore and Knighthood, the English FA and the three lions have receipts going back as far as anyone when it comes to the genesis of the crest in culture. While the Three Lions are a living homage to the different iterations of King Richard the 1st’s coat of arms, the 10 Tudor roses scattered symmetrically across the shield represent the 10 regional branches of the FA. On a stage crowded by large felines, the English may just have the most iconic rendition.
RUSSIA (Double-headed Eagle)
From our lovely tournament host comes some of the most brazenly gangster symbols in World Cup history. Taken straight from the Russian coat of arms. the two (well, three when counting the two heads of the eagles) are the double-headed eagle of Ivan III and a sigil of St. George trampling a dragon. With both Byzantine and Hittite origins (that one’s for you AP Euro nerds) the hosts showcase an equally rich tradition of heraldry as that of Western footballing nations. Their bold crest serves as a reminder that no two eagles are alike.
Death, tax evasion and national team flags being used as capes and makeshift blouses – these are the constants of global soccer. And yet for all the creatively draped flags worldwide, we still haven’t seen anything quite like this.
Friend & Fam of KTTP Raymond An took a sewing machine and over $3000 US dollar’s worth of officially-licensed World Cup kit paraphernalia and pieced together the most loving reinterpretation of the South Korean flag, AKA “Taegukgi,” in recent history.
“I needed a Korean flag to take to Russia. I just moved to LA from the DMV and left my flag back at my home… Jerseys are always on my mind, and I wanted to create a flag, rather than buying one, to be a bit different than the rest.”
Stitched together from 31 of the 32 participating nations of the World Cup (He’s still looking for a Denmark kit) the fabric and crest of each national team is sewn into a portion of the larger tapestry of the red, white blue and black of the Republic of Korea.
His purpose for the creation of the flag is two-fold. The first is to conduct a genuine cultural exchange with the global soccer community and enhance Korea’s standing in it.
“I wanted to do whatever I can to raise more awareness for friends of mine as well as the general public around the world that Korea is well represented in the World Cup by its fans.”
While the second does not mince words when it comes to challenging Korean football fans to a more holistic and active approach to supporting than just tuning in for the World Cup.
“The hope here is to turn heads into our direction with this unique flag and convert these heads into actual fans for years to come… Korean football culture has a long way to go and I would bluntly say that our football culture sucks. Our culture is based on results and there aren’t as many passionate fans as other nations. Hopefully, this flag will inspire fellow Koreans out there to see it more as a way of life.”
The passion for global soccer takes on even greater meaning when Ray talks in his native language of kit design. With his credits at Guerrilla FC, Ray’s rendition of the Taegukgi is a living homage to the kits that boast design as unique as its representative footballing culture; each patch a purposeful effort to display those who deserve the shine more prominently, “Jerseys with distinctive patterns on their shirts like the ones in Belgium, Argentina, Germany and especially Nigeria to be shown visibly on the flag.”
A flag is our most visceral symbol. They are created to immediately evoke a people, a government, and its culture. It is a reminder — even amidst some of the negative ideals and notions conjured by FIFA and the World Cup — that many can become one.
In the spirit of global soccer culture, a phrase from across the pond seems apt. You’ve covered yourself in glory, Raynaldinho. We’ll be sure to leave our capes at home.
Keep up with Ray with #FollowtheFlag. And if you’ve got a Denmark jersey, please reach out to the man directly – he brought his sewing machine to Russia.