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Are creative shorts making a comeback?

After dark years, shorts are once again becoming the main part of kit aesthetics

Are creative shorts making a comeback? After dark years, shorts are once again becoming the main part of kit aesthetics

The drop of the new Borussia Mönchengladbach home kit has gone unnoticed, but the work of PUMA Football on the German club's shorts restored value to an element of the uniform almost always underestimated. In fact, shorts are the new trend for sportswear brands involved every year in the reworking and renewal of jersey designs. This year there are already three examples of shorts that have their own characteristic elements, a style apart from the jersey: from the Mönchengladbach that focuses entirely on the chevron design in green and black that recalls the details of the back of the shirt at PSG with the visible homage above all on the shorts to MJ's Chicago Bulls, up to Chelsea which in its psychedelic pattern also incorporates the lower part to complete the optical effect.

In most cases, the shorts were conceived and designed as a complementary part of the kit and never fully exploited in football aesthetics. Often when the shirt has a bold style, a patter outside the lines, the shorts are used as an element of balance, as if it were a moderator of the uniform itself. Nike with Chelsea, Jordan with PSG and PUMA with Borussia have restored value to an element that, given the almost stylistic saturation of the jerseys, can be considered an integral part of the kit and therefore conceived as an element that deserves the right attention.

Over the last forty years there have been few courageous brands that have dared to wear shorts that complement the uniform, but do it with character and taste. In addition to the aforementioned teams, last year the English national team (Nike) also decided to use the same pattern of the away jersey on the shorts, in a blue and red kit that is already positioned on the podium of the best of Euro 2020. But for to get to the golden age in which shorts were considered on a par with the game shirt, we must go back to the 80s and 90s, when Umbro dominated the aesthetic scene and when adidas started experimenting with the first futuristic designs.

In fact, the three stripes brand will decorate Arsenal and Manchester United shorts with the iconic vertical stripes in the seasons from 1986 to 1988, both for the home version and for the away version. Staying at United, Peter Schmeichel's kits have often had shorts that are different from their colleagues and complementary also in terms of geometry compared to the shirt used. Complementarity that "The Great Dane" himself brought to Euro96 with his fantastic Denmark and with the support of Hummel, a brand capable of designing some of the best goalkeeper uniforms of all time.

The breaking point also with regard to shorts is the American World Cup. At USA94 the football style changes completely and does so also through shorts: from Jorge Campos to Cláudio Taffarel, up to Óscar Eduardo Córdoba Arce, three goalkeepers who thanks to Umbro have entered the history of football aesthetics. But if it is true that goalkeepers often make history (stylistic) in themselves, just think of Jay-Jay Okocha's Nigeria who with adidas creates the same jersey-shorts continuity that we see today on the Chelsea kit.

But still going backwards, a classic example also comes from Italian football. Lotto in the 1992-93 season is a sponsor of Fiorentina and, even if the kit goes down in history for the swastika created involuntarily by the geometric games in the upper part of the shirt, the Viola will be among the first teams in Serie A to have shorts with a design just that completes the kit by loading even more the uniform of character.

The history and aesthetic evolution of football shorts does not follow the attention that designers and brands have dedicated to the shirt, the fashion element par excellence of the football universe. Yet teams of aesthetic importance such as PSG and Chelsea have decided to focus on shorts as a distinctive element of the kit. For now, only Nike (including Jordan) and PUMA have decided to focus on an item that has been forgotten and neglected for many seasons. But the uniform launch period has just begun and there is still a whole world of trends to discover.