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Why does Napoli make so many shirts?

Since the start of the season it has already released nine jerseys

Why does Napoli make so many shirts? Since the start of the season it has already released nine jerseys

Just three months before the start of the championship, Napoli, fresh from signing with EA7 who will design all the uniforms, seems to have quickly forgotten all the production problems they had in the summer, releasing nine different jerseys. The latest arrival is the one dedicated to Diego Armando Maradona, released this weekend, available in 3 different colours and taking up a design already known, made several months ago by Giuseppe Klain, although not specified by the club, in the press release as in the social channels. If we make a quick calculation, in Italy but also in Europe, nobody comes close to the number of shirts released by Napoli this year but also in previous years. Not even Paris Saint Germain, who since the 2018 season have outsourced part of their production to Jordan while remaining under Nike, come close to more than four jerseys. In the Italian top flight, the exact same strategy is adopted by the other clubs, with Juventus and Inter always stopping at four in the previous season.

In 2004 all the spotlights were on the "piazza", on the controversies, including political ones, that the "Napoli case" aroused and fuelled, and in this scenario Aurelio De Laurentiis suddenly appeared. From that year onwards, we can mark the beginning of the Neapolitan Renaissance, surrounded by excellent players capable of entertaining a difficult public like the Neapolitan one, but above all by shirts, shirts and more shirts. Since 2004, trying to find a product or marketing strategy in this jungle of jerseys released would be like finding answers to all those existential questions that each of us cyclically asks. In short, something practically impossible. In the seventeen years of his presidency, Aurelio De Laurentiis' Napoli has produced around eighty different shirts, changing technical sponsor five times. 

Something was already foreshadowed when in the first year of his presidency the team took the field with four different versions of the home shirt. There was no particular design, as he has become accustomed to in recent years, only the films he produced that followed one another cyclically on the shirts (Sky Capital, Mandi and Christmas in Love) changed. A strategy that at the beginning seems clear, Aurelio de Laurentiis with still basic techniques of Local Marketing tries to advertise his creations, after having saved the club and raised its reputation. The current strategy, however, is more complex to resolve or to compare with that of other teams, something unknown that cannot be encapsulated in any advertising campaign that has created case histories or something highly relevant. Strategy that is closer to the plot of one of his first films on the shirt, Sky Capital, where flying machines invade the skies of the city, while on 5th Avenue giant robots sow panic and destruction.

The first to operate in this context and to understand the potential of merchandising were the English clubs, also because there the propensity for sports merchandising is certainly much higher. Manchester United started this process early on, in the 1990s, understanding that its name could be a more valuable brand than other clubs. In recent years, however, the brand has reached another dimension, touching the sphere of fashion. Two universes, apparently opposite but similar, have come together, like two cars in a very violent head-on collision. The impact has generated a new combination, giving rise to a movement that in just a few years has gone from the neighbourhood playgrounds to the catwalks of Fashion Week, transforming the football shirt into an iconic item of streetwear worldwide.

ADL also seems to have understood this, as in recent seasons he has put cinema aside, riding the wave of streetwear. The 2013, 2014, 2020 and the latest Halloween jersey are proof of this. In 2013, he tried to do this by reviving twice in the same year an iconic pattern that has contaminated both fashion and football, camouflage. Some brands have built their aesthetics around this pattern, such as A BATHING APE.

From military fashion to denim in 2014 with a versatile tunic inspired both by sports design and everyday fashion, if we wanted to compare it to a film, just to stay on the subject, it would certainly be Christmas in Love with Boldi and De Sica. Although we can argue about aesthetic taste, ADL and the entire team have identified one of the trends of those years, a return to denim, always current and alive in its shades of blue, which has hit the mark. At one time, Formisano (Napoli's current marketing director) recalls, the clubs' second and third jerseys "responded solely to footballing needs, they were produced so as not to blend in with the opponent's uniform, but this has not been the case for some time now, "the evolution cannot be stopped"

After the various experiments, the amazing presentations in ADL style with Inler and his lion mask, the Kombat jerseys of Kappa and kits used only in European competitions, Napoli closes a new agreement with Amazon, allowing one of the most famous marketplaces in the world to sell blue shirts. A decision taken by the son of ADL that proves successful, only in the first day Napoli managed to sell 1200 pieces, a success. Afterwards, due to the death of Maradona, comes a new shirt, with white and blue stripes that takes the design of the Argentine national team. But the shirt dedicated to Maradona is also inspired by the fourth jersey that the partenopei wore in the second year of De Laurentiis' presidency. So far nothing strange, except that it is already quite rare for a Serie C team to have a fourth shirt today, think in the 2005-06 season.

In 2021 came a small change, marking the arrival of the fifth seasonal shirt. A collaboration that allowed the club to get closer to the top teams in Europe, such as Paris and Juventus, by working with Marcelo Burlon. A strategy relating to branding and positioning, born not primarily for the product but to attest that the Neapolitan club has always been at the centre of certain dynamics, despite the greatness of some collabo has overshadowed what has been done previously.

In 2021 Napoli and net of the eight jerseys released so far, the Neapolitan team is not only first in the league, but also in this special ranking of jerseys. It is true that since there is no limit of jerseys that can be adopted, this could be a factor in the future, perhaps adopting the NBA model. A possible way forward, but at the moment that of Napoli seems a confusing strategy, with the high risk of both stressing the market and the patience of the fans.