The Blues home shirt was the star of an amazing crop of jerseys Adidas created for the New Zealand Super Rugby teams this year. With it’s modern, unconventional bright-to-dark vertical fade combined with the subtle tribal pattern around the shoulder, it was one of the more daring image overhauls we’ve seen this season. With so much being done with the home jersey’s look and feel, surely the change shirt would play it safe and keep things simple, right? Well…
While most of the New Zealand Super Rugby change shirts this year (and indeed most years) are just simple palette-swaps, the Blues jersey tears up the script, presenting us with a design that, while similar in tone and vibe to the home, is completely different, and significantly more detailed.
While the colour-fade technique that we’ve seen all over Super Rugby this year has been retained, there’s so much more going on here than that. Whereas the home shirt had a subtle but very cool ‘Pasifika’-style motif around the shoulder and the club badge – tapa and tatu patterns designed to reflect the Polynesian heritage of the Auckland region – this shirt has gone large and covered the entire body of the jersey in an incredibly detailed and intricate design that tells its own story.
Indeed, the design of the tapa and tatu here don’t just look traditional – they were created in a traditional way, too. The design was drawn onto a block of wood and then carved in fine detail to create a wooden stamp, which was then inked and printed onto paper. This paper print was then scanned and sublimated into the jersey – it’s hugely time-consuming process, but one that gives the shirt a unique and organic feel that looks absolutely amazing.
And it’s not just a pretty pattern – like some of our favourite shirt designs, every bit of this pattern has a purpose and a story that rewards closer inspection. For starters, some of the more abstract elements are symbols that depict unity, pathways, teamwork, belonging, community and the individual’s journey with and within the team.
But that’s just the abstract stuff, there are some more overt nods to the various regions that make up the Blues. Firstly we have Rangitoto Island, proudly displayed on the Blues’ badge, and given pride of place here, but we also see the the hibiscus and struts of the Harbour Bridge, representing North Harbour, The Auckland Tower and surrounding cityscape, and the Mighty Kauri tree of Northland.
We didn’t expect the Blues alternate shirt to be even more interesting than the home, and while it doesn’t quite have the jaw-dropping visual impact of the primary design, there can be little doubt that this is one of the coolest and most unique shirts around this season.