With their November tour kicking off this weekend, the All Blacks took time our from their preparations yesterday to launch their brand new 2015 home shirt from Adidas. The All Blacks jersey is without doubt the most iconic shirt in world rugby, and one of the most recognisable in sport globally, so the launch of a New Zealand jersey is always going to get us excited. With that in mind, let’s get stuck in and see what Adidas have come up with this year.
Now, we’ve mentioned before how an All Blacks’ shirt designer has both a hard and incredibly simple job – it’s a black shirt with a fern on it, and that’s as much and as little as you can get away with. Easy, you might think, but not so easy to keep coming up with new and interesting shirt designs every couple of years. So if you’re Adidas, what do you do with that iconic plain black shirt? Well, of course, you make it EVEN BLACKER.
Yes, key to the promotion of the new shirt at its launch was the claim that this was ‘the blackest All Blacks jersey ever’. There was even a hashtag. “But, it’s already black,” you may well ask. “Just how black can it really be?” The answer, as anyone who has seen This Is Spinal Tap will already be aware is, of course, “None more black”.
In all seriousness though, the reason behind the ‘blackest ever’ claim is the complete lack of white trim anywhere on the jersey. We’ve seen this before, of course, but this time the iconic fern and sponsor logo colours have been darkened, too. This time around they’re ‘Gunmetal Silver’, as opposed to the traditional white. It’s a cool look, and certainly gives the shirt a broody, modern vibe. Traditional it may not be, but it definitely looks the business.
This difference aside however, there’s still a limitation on what you can do with an All Blacks shirt – it’s still going to be a plain black jersey at the end of the day, so what else can the designers do to make people care about the design?
The answer of course, is that you make damn sure that something about shirt’s materials or design is revolutionary and unique. Here, the big invention that Adidas is trumpeting is ‘Woven Carbon’ – a unique two-way stretch fabric that’s designed to be super-duper strong and flexible, and all that stuff that every company always says whenever they design a new fabric for their products.
While we have no doubt that the fabric is exactly as revolutionary as Adidas says it is, what’s interesting for us is the pattern that this Woven Carbon material gives the front of the jersey. The contrasting diagonal stripes that run across it gives a look that’s is very reminiscent of carbon fibre – we’re sure that’s not coincidental, but we think it’s very cool, and definitely sets the jersey apart from previous All Black shirts.
There’s a contrasting pattern on the sides of the jersey, which looks to us like it’s supposed to be a subtle not to the pattern of the famous silver fern that adorns the front of the All Black jersey – it’s a clever little touch, and it gives a nice contrast to the front of the shirt.
Like Under Armour does with Wales, Adidas are producing two different fits for these shirts – a forwards one that’s a little less tight, enabling binding and gripping in the scrum (Translation: enables front rowers to go back to the breakfast buffet for seconds on the morning of the game without being embarrassing) and an ultra-tight fit for the backs, so there’s less shirt for opposing tacklers to grip onto (Translation: so the flash bastards can show off their abs for the TV cameras).
That’s not relevant to the average punter of course, but one thing that will transfer to the supporters’ jersey is the new collar. It’s quite similar to the Adidas design they’ve used for many years now, but it seems thinner, and with a curious little gap at the front – looks cool, though.
So, just another All Blacks jersey? Well, no… While the basic elements of this jersey are always going to be the same, this feels like a genuinely different design for New Zealand, and not in a tacky, try-hard kinda way. This feels sleek, clean, modern and different, while still being instantly recognisable as an All Blacks shirt. None more black? Exactly.
SHIT/GOOD RATING: GOOD