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Meyba's new creative direction between past and future

A chat with Neal Heard, the new creative director of the Spanish brand

Meyba's new creative direction between past and future A chat with Neal Heard, the new creative director of the Spanish brand

When we think of Meyba we think of the Barcelona of Maradona, Zubizarreta, Ortega, Laudrup, Guardiola, Salinas, Stoičkov, Johan Cruijff. A Barcelona brand that has sponsored the Barça for 10 long years, creating uniforms that today are milestones in the history of football shirts. Protagonist in Spain for all the 80s, before disappearing into thin air and reappearing a couple of decades later with vintage collections that attracted all the most nostalgic fans.


Meyba returned to football last month, announcing the partnership with Twente. After these first signs of recovery, new investments have arrived, such as the appointment of Neal Heard as creative director of the brand. After books, after consultations and collaborations with big brands, Neal has the opportunity to get to work to relaunch a brand that has clear objectives. The new creative director tells us about them.


In some ways, Meyba is the ideal place/project for a creative and culturally prepared mind like yours. How do you approach a brand that has such an important heritage?

 You are dead right when you say the Meyba project is an ideal place for someone like me. I have had a few offers to get involved with football brands and it was important to me that the brand was one close to my heart. I had always loved and respected Meyba, so once we spoke and I also saw the love and belief the owners have for the brand it was an obvious decision for me. Also, the people backing up the project, have a track record in this field, and have the business acumen and expertise to back it up and make it work.  The heritage is something which brings more passion but also more responsibility for my shoulders. I am aware of the love for the brand and of course wish to do it justice. But pressure brings the best out if us so I thrive like this.


We are pure futbol" is a Meyba's ideological and aesthetic manifesto. What is stylistic purity in the world of football according to your vision? And how would you like to tell/express it through your new role?

The manifesto is to represent that Meyba will only supply football teams, we will not dabble in other sports like Rugby or Basketball, we want to retain our focus. The only purity in design that I wish to see is good design and a respect for a clubs history. I am particularly excited by my new role because I have been given leeway to decide the brands strategy from top to bottom from which clubs we decide to work with and why down to teamwear and kit design, my fingers spread like tentacles around the brand strategy and that is something which excites me. We wish to have a fresh approach to teamwear, reflecting more the attention to looking good that the modern fan requires, rather than the rather staid and lazy approach often seen in teamwear supply. We will offer clubs a unique kit design, totally unqiye to them we do not want to use templates and this is a big thing to us.


The vintage component has accompanied the brand for years. In percentage, in your opinion, how much impact does the nostalgic element have on brand awareness and when can it represent an obstacle?

It’s a good question, and one which has never been more relevant when it comes to football brands. Nostalgia plays a huge part in the love fans have for their club, not just their jerseys. We love the grainy footage of past glories and faded newspaper and books from long ago, it roots us to a team. With this in mind it’s not surprising to me to see the pent up demand we are seeing for retro and classic jerseys. It connects people to glory days past. But I definitely believe that though it’s great to have a heritage to link you and give one a relevance it must not also be the be end and end all. I’m totally of the belief that Meyba should make new memories with it’s kit design, you must not be a slave to the past, this penchant for homage to old jerseys in new kit design is too obvious, let’s make new bold statements which fans of the future will want to recreate.


You have always called yourself a "kit head" and your works talk clearly. The great preparation and knowledge you have behind you - both as an author and as a collector - on the world of football jerseys allow you to have a 360° view of the space where football meets fashion. What do you think the future of the football jersey will be? What will be the trends and directions they will take? Many, for example, speak of the possibility that the iconic lines of many clubs will disappear...

Without sounding like a total big head, I think it’s possible to look at the interviews that I have given over the past 2-3 years to see that I was one of the few people who could see that the world of football shirts was about to change. Many of the things that I had forecast, such as a much more graphical and vivid use of design in jerseys and a further fusion between football and streetwear have come to pass in a big way. For me the future is just this recent trend but exemplified. We will see more and more collaborations between the once old fashioned football clubs and fashion and street wear brands, think Palace x Juve , PSG and Jumpman, Roma and Nowhere F.C, we are certaint going to see more of that. There will also be a crossover with all other aspects of popular cluture with kit design, so more  musical and band references. In honesty, as someone who believes strongly in protecting heritage I do not see the day when club colours will be lost. The whole reason football shirts work is that they are aout belonging to a tribe, if you lose the tribal colours and totems you lose most of football.  I think what we will see more of and are indeed seeing more of is the use of alternative colours and designs in second and especially third kits and also making use of pre match warm up apparel to let design and fashion flow, whilst keeping the colours of a first team shirt sacrosanct.

In the top 50 of the most beautiful and iconic soccer jerseys ever made by many important sports sites, Italian jerseys always rank well and have a prominent place. In your vision, what is the element of Italian football aesthetics that you like best?

Actually being a lover of Italian jerseys I can answer this one! To be honest I do not think it is too much about Italian jersey design in particular it’s more about the effect that Seria A had around the world from 1990 onwards. This was the first time that a league could be beamed around the world for all to see. It so happened that at this time Seria A was in it’s pomp. Persoanlly I prefer the actual jersey designs of the 1980’s to the 1990’s, think Milan’s away Cuore shirt of 84, Lazio’s big eagle Nr jersey and Pouchain with Roma, these are the best jerseys of all time for me. But if you look at Italian jersey design as a whole, it’s actually been rather traditionally English inspired, what with the heritage stripes of both Milan clubs and Juventus. What Serie A clubs do very well is mix colours quite uniquely, think both Milans club use of Black stripes with Red or Blue, these are quite unique. Sampdoria for me is always a thing of beauty. But again, I think it was the great players playing in a great league for the world to see which meant Italian shirts left such a deep mark, would we love the plain blue of Napoli if Maradona had not worn it ? it’s a plain blue shirt, but the association gives it the lustre.

Meyba's return to football with the Twente resulted in a 2020-21 kit with a modern design. Which team will you work on next and which one would you like to work on?

The Twente deal was one which was agreed upon before I took up my roll as creative director so I had no say in either kit design or club choice, but it’s great to see the brand back on the pitch and also it illustrates to clubs that we can supply temwear to professional clubs again in a preactical way. For me, the teams which we work with is a vital strand to our story, I do not want to work with clubs which have no story or who do not buy into our approach of being bold with team kit and teamwear design. I am fascinated at how football and fashion have intertwined and wish to make Meyba be the coolest football brand out there. We are in talks with a few clubs spread around the globe but cannot say too much at this time, but watch this space.....

It seems that the relations between Barça and Nike are no longer so strong. How much do you hope the roads between Meyba and Barcelona can be reunited? We hope so!

Well of course it’s very important to remember that the brand was born in Barcelona, and that it supplied it’s hometown club for 10 seasons. We love the city and we love the club. However, I think it’s safe to say that at the moment in time we aren;’t quite in the monetary league to supply the grand old club, but that’s not to say we cannot make a relevant story and also that we can’t overachieve with design to allow us to make a noise, plans are in place already so again, watch this space.