Rating the Women’s World Cup home kits: France? Wrong blue! Nigeria? My eyes! USA? Room-splitter!
While there are plenty of big issues to discuss before the Womens World Cup gets underway from injuries to intra-squad chaos to whos going to win it there is one thing everyone has been waiting for.
Thats right: the kits.
Are they good? Are they bad? Are they boring? Is boring good? Is avant-garde better? All these questions and more are answered here
This is going to be a running theme, so lets get it out of the way early: is it bad/lazy when the womens and the mens kits are the same? Disrespectful, even? Should there be separate shirts for both? Or does having the same shirt suggest a connection and unity between the two teams? Genuinely not sure. Either way, this is a classic, clean design, maybe a little boring but we all have enough excitement in our lives, dont we?
When is what seems to be PR nonsense actually a sincere expression of a worthy sentiment? The lines are often blurred, so make what you will of Nikes assertion that the marbling pattern on Australias kit illustrates their diverse country and culture as well as the transformation of the national team over time. Another view is the pattern looks like those bottles of sand in seaside souvenir shops. Your call as to which is a more appropriate description.
This is, undeniably, a Brazil shirt. Look: its yellow with a green trim. The shorts are blue. The socks are white. Its got the CBF logo on it. Its made by Nike. Im vamping here because theres not a huge amount to say about it. Nike claim theres an all-over bespoke fern pattern that represents the uniqueness of the team and its players. But you really, really, really have to zoom in to see that pattern so whats the point? Anyway, its a Brazil shirt. Yellow with a green trim etc etc.
According to Nike, this shirt features an evolution of our iconic geometric maple leaf design. Which may well be true, but it does also look like how they represented the world wide web in early-mid 90s films when a young nerd in cool glasses surfing the information superhighway found a back door to the mainframe as a grizzled older colleague scoffs in the background. Or something like that.
The background patterns on these Nike shirts are all very well and look quite decent close up, but close up is not how most people experience football kits during football matches. From a distance, the pattern on this China shirt just looks like dark splotches and from a distance dark splotches just look like sweat patches. So isnt this kit just going to make the Chinese players look sweatier than they actually are? Does that matter? Is it going to provide some weird psychological disadvantage where their opposition thinks theyre sweatier and thus more tired? Are we massively overthinking this? Hard to say at this stage.
Yeah, this is fine. The sort of hybrid v-neck/crew-neck collar works quite well and theres a nice but sparing use of the red trim. Beyond that, its pretty Adidas template-y, which is not particularly interesting but ultimately not bad because the Adidas templates are not bad. Is it slightly the wrong shade of yellow for Colombia, though? Too bright? Or are we just looking for something to say again? Perfectly possible.
Strong. May we please direct your attention to the collar of this shirt. Collars are important. Theyre the thing that is most likely to cause irritation when youre wearing a shirt, but theyre also one of the key places you can throw in a little detail if you dont want to go nuts with the rest of the shirt. And Adidas have nailed this one: its quite basic, but to have a dark blue collar with a small white trim is a simple but inspired touch. The collar makes this shirt. The collar is a nine, the rest of the shirt is a 7, so it all averages out at
Hmmm. Its always tricky to have a go at a kit designer for trying something different, but this shirt looks like about six different kit designers trying something different. Apparently, the inspiration for the design is Pop Art, but its not entirely clear why. Its less Andy Warhol, more an art student trying to create a collage, but then someone knocks the table and all the pieces end up everywhere. The collar is nice though.
For a start, the shorts are blue, which all England home shorts should be from an aesthetic point of view, not forgetting the other reasons why its not sensible to have white shorts in womens football. Its the right blue, too, darker rather than the sky/lighter blue that has encroached on England kits in recent years. Its a little bit Nike retro template, with the early-2000s detailing around the collar, but overall its decent.
It only takes a glance to know who this kit belongs to states the Nike website about this France home shirt, but it takes much more than a glance. Many glances. A long hard stare, in fact. It looks nothing like a France kit. Its completely the wrong blue! Far too light! Light blue shorts! What are you doing, Nike? If it only takes a glance to know its a France kit, why have they got the tricolour red, white and blue as a sleeve detail to tell you its a France kit? Its like saying this person needs no introduction, before giving them a lengthy introduction. Non merci!
Another copy of the mens home kit, but its OK, isnt it? Nothing particularly special. It doesnt look like a Germany kit though and no amount of watching them blunder their way out of another World Cup at the first hurdle, as the men did, will change that, but maybe the women will imbue it with less of a stench of failure. Adidas do get extra points for producing a plus-size version of this kit and most of their kits.
Saeta is a brand unfamiliar to European audiences, which is broadly because theyre Colombian and seem to have kept most of their business in that region since the 1980s. Going by this design, theyre a sort of South American Macron, which regretfully is not a compliment. This shirt is OK, with the caveat that it feels like someone has designed it, then just kept adding little flicks of colour to it without much method until someone told them to stop, then they came back after hours and did it again.
Castore are a slightly odd brand, seemingly coming from nowhere a few years ago to produce kit and sportswear for a surprising number of teams, while at the same time running a leisurewear brand that looks like it belongs beneath the padded gilets on guys named Hugo. This Ireland shirt is rather nice though, keeping the traditional green the dominant colour but using the other colours from the national flag for detail, with an excellent collar and subtle pinstripes. Hats off, Castore, and sorry about making fun of guys named Hugo/padded gilet wearers.
It feels like all objective consideration of the aesthetic merits of the Italy shirt should be abandoned on principle, on moral grounds. Its been a sentiment repeated ad nauseam by people like us (by which I mean people who care enough to write about kits and people who care enough to read about them), but Italy in Adidas is simply wrong. It wont do. It will not stand. It doesnt matter that the background pattern is both prominent enough to be noticeable but also unobtrusive, or that the terrific detail from armpit to hip takes in the three colours of the Italian flag, or that the gold trim around the collar and sleeves shouldnt really work but actually does oh god, its actually good, isnt it? All principles go out of the window. Our morals are crumbling. Oh, evil temptation! Forbidden fruit, why are you so delicious?
In theory, it should be quite difficult to mess up a Jamaica shirt. Youve got the inherently cool/naturally prominent colour combination of yellow, green and black to work with, so that should be all you need. But this is oddly boring? I cant really put my finger on why this doesnt work, but it just sort of looks like the away kit of an English Championship club that Adidas got the contract for by accident, so they just dashed something off from their big bag o templates and came up with this. It should work, but for some reason, it doesnt.
Yes, now, this is really quite excellent. Sure, it looks a bit like a magic eye or what you would see on the screen when one of those computers from the 1980s goes a bit weird, but the patterns you can see are actually origami, tying it in a just-about-getting-away-with-it manner to the national culture. The away shirt is the real star of the show, but well get to that later.
Theres a disappointing lack of marketing nonsense/design notes on the Puma website about this shirt, so its slightly unclear what the background patterns on it are all about. Which forces us to fill in the gaps ourselves, meaning the pattern looks a bit like barbed wire? It absolutely isnt that because that would be extremely weird, even from the fevered brains of football kit designers, but its tricky to work out what it actually is. So well go with barbed wire until someone gets in touch.
Theyve gone with the same dominant pattern here that they tried to pull off with the France kit. But at least this does actually look like a shirt belonging to the nation in question, even if that pattern does resemble a large, two-month-old coffee stain on a corduroy shirt that refuses to be washed out by even the most persistent detergents. Its not good, but it does make you wonder how a corduroy football jersey would work. Someone should try it.
Yeah, now, this is really good. Admittedly, there is a slight whiff of a school class where an exasperated teacher has given their pupils some of that black paper and a couple of white spray cans and left them to it while they go outside for a restorative cigarette. But if that is the case: give those kids a job as football shirt designers because theres something about this one that just works. Black kits can be a gamble and tinkering with them even more so, but with this spray/stencil effect, theyve managed to retain the inherent coolness of the black kit while also adding some variety and also incorporating the fern, the teams logo. Good job all round.
Eeesh, you arent going to get lost in this kit. Man alive thats a bright green. Too bright, in fact, for both the retinas of anyone looking at it and Nigeria generally, who traditionally have been decked out in a slightly more subtle shade. Maybe the garish colour is to hide the fact this is just a bog-standard Nike template, with none of the individuality or personality that Nigeria kits have had in the past. So it somehow manages to be a bit much, but also simultaneously not quite enough.
We once again come to our old friend, the Is It Clean And Classic, Or Is It Dull? debate, which regular readers of these kit ratings from down the years might remember is a recurring theme. There are almost impressively few features on this Norway shirt, with absolutely nothing on about 90 per cent of it to distinguish it from anything else. It just about gets away with it because the colours combine quite well, but theyre literally the colours from the Norwegian flag which, according to no less a source than Wikipedia, was adopted in 1821. So Nike aint getting any credit for that.
Reebok! Look at this! Its the 1990s again! Given the prevalence of 90s nostalgia thats been around for the past few years, it feels quite fitting that Reebok are back at the top level again and with a pretty decent kit, too. The tessellating hexagons (you can get a closer look here) work quite nicely, even if they do look a bit like a bad carpet, although that piping under the armpits is simply too big. Still, welcome Reebok, here again from the 90s. Maybe draw the line at a centre parting or Spice Girls cassette, though.
Ah, now, this is good and a bit unexpected. You might think that Adidas, when given a smaller nations kit to produce, would just try to fob them off with a boring template, but hats off to them, they have come up with something with just enough difference to make it interesting. It does have a bit of a Colombia away shirt from some point in the early 2010s vibe to it, but the colours contrast nicely, the small touch of having the three stripes on the shoulder as red on a blue background works, too, and the pinstripes do the job of creating a small point of difference.
The writers of the design notes for this Portugal home shirt really had their work cut out. Inspired by the intersection where history and modern culture collide, the Portugal 2023 home jersey takes a traditional colourway and infuses it with youthful energy, says the Nike website. What? Because its just well its just a red shirt with a bit of green on the collar and down the sides, isnt it? And theres nothing inherently wrong with that, its fine, its a plain but nice shirt. Lets not over-intellectualise it, eh?
Rating: 5 (a point knocked off for the nonsense)
Lets start off by saying: what a kit launch/unveiling video that is. They have almost screwed themselves over by making the video better than the kit, but the good news is that the kit is still excellent. Again, they have been given the basic tools of some superb colours to work with, but they have managed to strike the right balance with the background pattern of it being prominent enough to stand out but not so prominent that it makes the shirt look a) too busy and b) weird from a distance. The team might be in chaos, with running disputes against the federation, but at least theyll look great while in that chaos.
Nikes kits for this tournament have been something of a mixed bag: the ones where they have made a bit of an effort, which for the most part are great (the away shirts in particular), and the ones which are just their standard template and not a huge amount of imagination appears to have gone into them. South Korea seem to have got the rum end of that deal because both their shirts fall into the latter category, the home effort being red with pink trim. Well give them the benefit of the doubt and say they chose pink in an attempt to create a contrast, rather than lazier reasons, but even so, it doesnt really work.
As is the case with a lot of the teams at this World Cup, the away kits are where the real action is, but this Spain number is a perfectly fine retro number, recalling their jerseys from the late 90s/early 2000s. The collar detail is particularly nice, contrasting the dark blue with the red and yellow of the Spanish flag. A small gripe though: those numbers on the front are too big. You need to be able to see them from 10 yards or so, not from space.
Sweden shirts of late have been, as a general rule, absolutely top-notch. Which makes this one slightly disappointing: theres nothing really wrong with it and the collar and sleeve details are pretty strong, but theres just something about it that screams early 2000s generic Adidas training shirt that youd find on the discount rack of your local sportswear shop. Maybe its the team crest and the manufacturers logo being atop each other in the centre. Maybe its the slightly darker yellow stripes down the front. Maybe Ive been doing this for too long and all the joy in my life has been sucked out of me.
Puma have a tricky relationship with football kits. By which I mean theyre often rubbish. But in this case, even though it feels like there are a couple of competing ideas at play here, this one actually works. The pinstripes, interspersed with the small crosses of the Swiss flag, look great. And then the background pattern, which in the absence of any design notes presumably are meant to symbolise Swiss mountains, also just about work, although from a short distance, it might look like the players are bizarrely sweating from the hips up. It shouldnt work, but it does.
Now, this USWNT home shirt is going to be a room-splitter. But I am here to tell all those people that they are wrong and this is in fact a brilliant shirt. According to Nike, it was inspired by the abstract expressionism art movement that started in New York in the 1940s, which shifted the art epicentre from Europe to the U.S., similar to what the USA team has done for womens soccer. That does sound an awful lot like Americans taking credit for the popularity of football, with which I would like to take issue, but they have been the dominant force in the womens game for three centuries, so maybe well allow it. And in any case, the shirt is just really cool, so we can forget all the other stuff.
The Vietnam kit is made by a company called Grand Sport International, which absolutely sounds like the sort of name you would make up if you were put on the spot and told to invent a sportswear company. But it is a really terrific shirt, with the detailing around the collar and sleeves using the yellow from the flag well but sparingly. Its another country who have the basic tools of a colour combination you cant really go wrong with, but, as weve seen, plenty of kits have managed to mess that up. So, Grand Sport International whoever you are and wherever you are we salute you.
Not sure what to make of this one. The colours look great, with the golden orange combining nicely with the deeper green, which differentiates it enough from teams with a similar scheme, like Australia or South Africa. But the diagonal strokes/chevrons that go down the left side of the shirt look like they had the plain shirt and someone said we need something a bit more, a designer shrugged and painted those on, then everyone high-fived and took the rest of the day off.
Which also doesnt mean its bad, its just not actively good, either.
Note: Some images in this article were updated after publication.
(Top photos: Carmen Mandato/USSF and Franck Fife/AFP, both via Getty Images; design: Eamonn Dalton)