Field Theory by Hadyn Green



The other day I was sent an interesting diversion via Twitter (what else is Twitter for?). It was a collection of West Ham's uniforms from 1895 to the present including any one-offs and throwbacks.

What's clear to see is entropy. That is, the uniform becomes more complex over time, with seemingly no way to reverse the complexity.

The 1895 Thames Ironworks (as West Ham began) was just navy from top to socks. The 2009-10 players will wear some kind of checked shirt, red-trimmed shorts and socks with a billion stripes on them. It's far from the worst uniform they've had (Pony and Bukta) but what ever happened to simplicity?

Have a look at Tottenham in 1898 and then track them through to today. They hit the ‘70s and it goes downhill fast. As Spurs supporter Rich Irvine pointed out: "how many ways can they ruin a white shirt?"

There seems to be a worrying trend in sports uniforms to make them "interesting" or "futuristic". The newer uniforms often have more panels and it seems the creators want each panel to be a different colour. And lines aren't always sharp and crisp anymore, they fade out, I assume this is to create a "speed blur".

Here is a chart you can refer to if you need to create a uniform.

The only type that's missing is the solid colour. Any sports team anywhere can rock the solid colour. The more detail you put in the more likely you're going to add something that people hate.

This is why I don't know what to think about the current trend in Pacific rugby. Samoa started it with a stylistic tatau on the right arm and shoulder. Then Tonga followed and now Fiji has a traditional mask pattern over the shoulder.

The Fijian change is arguably the most dramatic. They altered what was, in my opinion, one of the best and most recognisable rugby uniforms ever. (I have contacted the Fijian rugby team to ask why the move was made and how the design decisions were made. At the time of writing they hadn't replied, but I'll let you know if they do).

Of course you could argue that the All Blacks headed that way first. When adidas took over from Canterbury they brought in the sticky jersey material that had a vaguely moko/tribal tattoo look to it. The overt look was eventually dumped, but the new jerseys have the new embossed Fern emblem (look for them on the white jersey versus France in a couple of weeks).

And now the embossed look is definitely "in". England released its brand new Nike alternate kit. Note the embossed triangle pattern, I assume it's a grippy fabric and the asymmetry is because it's for a right-handed player.

It might be the first Nike rugby uniform that I've liked the look of. Except for the colour: a nice dark… purple?

Nike have been known to ignore traditional uniform colours in the past but this time "the purple kit has been roundly applauded for the traditions it evokes". That would be the tradition of England never having worn purple before but instead having (and I'm not kidding) a purple tracksuit.

I don't know how "roundly applauded" the jersey is considering the Telegraph has it in a photo gallery of "Worst Sports Kits".

But there is a line here. It is good to show national pride through a sports uniform, in fact that's pretty much why they exist. But if that creates something that the players feel stupid wearing then it defeats the purpose.


Tomorrow I'm off to the AnimFx conference here in Wellington. It looks like it'll be one of those "every speaker fills your head with amazing ideas" type of conference. I love video games and I love special effects-filled movies, it's a match made in heaven. And I have heard that there are still some spaces available.

Then at lunch it's the launch of the Wellington Firebirds' new season. Is this the summer I report about cricket? We shall see.

Finally a reminder that the last Richter City bout of the year is on Saturday at TSB Arena (7pm kick-off) and it's The Big One. Literally. The series is tied 1-1 between Smash Malice and Brutal Pageant. And none of these skaters like to lose. It's going to be intense.

And once again I have a double pass to give away. Just hit the "reply" button below and send me an email. I'll draw it tomorrow afternoon.

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