Mac the Knife

Uniform Changes: Europe vs. USA

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Every year I notice EPL clubs tend to make a fairly big deal out of releasing their kits for the upcoming season, sometimes it's just a change of an advertiser's mark or some other, relatively minute change.  But this got me wondering:  how would American fans respond to this practice if it were conducted in every major sport, every year?

 

I mean we have people blowing gaskets over a leaked Tennessee Titans jersey that'll be presented tomorrow and while it's a change, and not necessarily a good change, it's not exactly Earth-shattering.  So how would you feel if you knew that every year, the New York Yankees were going to release a new jersey that (probably) had some type of tweak to it?  Or the Chicago Bears?  Or when NBA teams figure out to make single-year sponsorship ad deals and start actually doing this?

 

Do these annual uniform changes actually result in significant jersey sales in the European pro soccer circuits?  Would they here?  Would fans rebel and stop buying stuff altogether?  What, in general, do you think the reaction to annual changes would be?

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6 minutes ago, Mac the Knife said:

Every year I notice EPL clubs tend to make a fairly big deal out of releasing their kits for the upcoming season, sometimes it's just a change of an advertiser's mark or some other, relatively minute change.  But this got me wondering:  how would American fans respond to this practice if it were conducted in every major sport, every year?

 

I mean we have people blowing gaskets over a leaked Tennessee Titans jersey that'll be presented tomorrow and while it's a change, and not necessarily a good change, it's not exactly Earth-shattering.  So how would you feel if you knew that every year, the New York Yankees were going to release a new jersey that (probably) had some type of tweak to it?  Or the Chicago Bears?  Or when NBA teams figure out to make single-year sponsorship ad deals and start actually doing this?

 

Do these annual uniform changes actually result in significant jersey sales in the European pro soccer circuits?  Would they here?  Would fans rebel and stop buying stuff altogether?  What, in general, do you think the reaction to annual changes would be?

They do. That's why Arsenal went away from the rule of keeping home jerseys for two years. Especially since players move around more, a new number or kit brings more money in. That's why Ronaldo and Messi require image rights in their contracts. 

 

In US sports, those uniforms are going to expected to be around for a few years. If we knew this Tennessee uniform would be replaced in two years? We'd talk about it for 10 pages in a giant NFL megathread and then move on after a month to the next horrible two year design. 

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But that's my point:  what if the Oakland Raiders released a new jersey every year?  Or the Yankees?  Or the Bulls?  How profound an impact on merch sales would such a thing have here in the U.S.?  Would it spur it on to new heights, or would it kill it... or would there be something in between?  

 

We can't use European soccer as an example of how Americans would react because European soccer clubs have always changed jerseys year-to-year, so it's expected.  Similarly we can't imagine what the impact of a league's teams all changing jerseys every year because none have ever even considered it.

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27 minutes ago, Mac the Knife said:

But that's my point:  what if the Oakland Raiders released a new jersey every year?  Or the Yankees?  Or the Bulls?  How profound an impact on merch sales would such a thing have here in the U.S.?  Would it spur it on to new heights, or would it kill it... or would there be something in between?  

 

We can't use European soccer as an example of how Americans would react because European soccer clubs have always changed jerseys year-to-year, so it's expected.  Similarly we can't imagine what the impact of a league's teams all changing jerseys every year because none have ever even considered it.

Why wouldn't we? MLS and USL does this now, though it's on a rotating schedule between home and away. Now if NFL teams did this every year I think you'll see people stop buying uniforms because of the costs. The NBA puts out so many new alternates every year for the top teams and people still snatch them up so I think that's a good indicator that it would probably continue at that level as well if it were one or two uniforms swapped out every year. 

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You have to keep in mind that until the 70's-early 80's soccer kits weren't changed nearly as often. It usually coincided with a switch in suppliers or some cool new materials allowing for lighter shirts, and even then the changes were relatively minor. The change-every-year dynamic really only started in the 90's with the rise of big brand manufacturers and the local small time manufacturers such as NR, Patrick, ABM becoming increasingly irrelevant. adidas needed to show in how many different way they could fit 3 huge stripes on the shirt, Nike got into the market, and once the first ones started changing every year and saw that fans kept buying new shirts everyone else wasn't going to be left behind in the profits.  

 

I see no reason why this wouldn't happen in non-MLS US sports other than revenue sharing making it less of a need to constantly increase revenues to keep up pace. Hell we're already seeing it in the NBA where the City uniforms will change every year.

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For this US vs EU idea I do find one thing interesting:

 

The NFL requires a 5 year wait between new unis, MLS rotates home/away every other year, but the NBA, NHL & MLB all seem like they can just whip new uniforms up without a huge notice, or am I wrong on that? It seems weird to me those three leagues can just have that without a long wait between

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In baseball and hockey, teams almost always go retro or take one big risk and are willing to cut their losses when they're received poorly. The NFL almost feels like Scrooge in that they don't want teams to change uniforms unless they've worn them a while. 

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It would depend on the team and which jerseys. If it was like the MLB and NBA where the homes and aways stayed the same but the alternates changed year to year that would be ok, But yearly home and away? That would be chaotic especially if designs elements don't carry over from year to year. Can you think of Arsenal without contrasting sleeves? Or the Yankees minus pinstripes? 

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8 hours ago, WBeltz said:

For this US vs EU idea I do find one thing interesting:

 

The NFL requires a 5 year wait between new unis, MLS rotates home/away every other year, but the NBA, NHL & MLB all seem like they can just whip new uniforms up without a huge notice, or am I wrong on that? It seems weird to me those three leagues can just have that without a long wait between

The NHL has a rule that you have to keep a third jersey for at least two years, and wear it for 10 games a year. The Sabres knew the turd burger jerseys were a mistake, but they had to stick with it for two years. The rules (or lack thereof) for outdoor game jerseys are new, but I think the rules for regular third jerseys are still the same. If they have rules like that for third jerseys, I assume they make teams stick with main looks longer.

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