Even David Beckham can't make Manchester United's zebra-like kits look good

Cassandra Negley
·3 mins read

Manchester United calls it a “visually distinctive design, inspired by striped jerseys from the club’s history.”

Others might label it a meeting of zebras who netted sponsorship deals.

The club unveiled its new third kit for the 2020-21 season, and it features a busy black-and-white striped design. It’s meant as an homage to the club’s designs from the past 100 years and brings to mind adidas’ “disruptive jersey graphics” from the 1980s, per the release.

Adidas “re-drew, hacked and re-imagined” elements throughout the club’s history to provide a “fresh update.” It incorporates a new pattern but keeps red, white and black with a “modern look.”

From the release:

“Manchester United’s relationship with all-over stripes goes back to the team’s first year at its home in Old Trafford, when the team wore a classic blue-and-white striped shirt as the alternative kit. The collar on this new jersey features a ‘110 years of stripes’ sign-off, signifying the history of the club’s jerseys.

“Most memorably, adidas brought disruptive jersey graphics into the world of football at the end of the 1980s, causing a visual revolution in shirt design. It is these graphics, and the spirit of bringing a new approach and innovation to the field, that inspired the design of the 2020/21 third kit launched today.”

Manchester United has used stripes on and off throughout its history, starting with a vertical stripe in 1902. It switched to thick horizontal in the 1930s and largely stayed away from any more stripes until the 1980s. That’s when the kits took on a diagonal stripe design as part of color blocked shirts.

The new ones are basically all of the previous striped ones combined.

The stripes idea is cool, and bringing back older looks is a trend. But it looks more like a floor tile that wasn’t placed in the correct pattern when the kitchen remodel was done. Or rather, the big size tile and the small size tile trying to make the space look good together.

Not even David Beckham is making it look that attractive, to be honest.

It’s an interesting shirt that goes for it, and the initial response will always be knee-jerk and negative. We all know weird uniform designs usually grow on people after the initial shock.

Then again, imagine a field of players running around in mismatched graphics and how even more incongruent it will look then.

There’s also matching shorts and socks with the same pattern. We’ll leave you with that.

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