Peter Saville and the story behind that England shirt

The football shirt as a vehicle for ‘socio-cultural provocation’? The full story behind Peter Saville’s involvement with the new England kit

4944847765_ae1e9d9ce1_z_0.jpg - Peter Saville and the story behind that England shirt - 2681

The football shirt as a vehicle for ‘socio-cultural provocation’? When Umbro invited Peter Saville to contribute to the design of its new England home kit, it was always likely that there would be more on the agenda than a few stripes.

Last night, England played Bulgaria in the first of their qualifying matches for Euro 2012. They did so wearing a shirt that, although appearing to be a pretty standard plain white from a distance, also attempts to use graphic design to make a statement about the nature of modern England thanks to a pattern of multicoloured crosses of St George which features across the shirt’s shoulders.

Reaction to the new home shirt when it was revealed on this website earlier this week was forceful and, on balance, negative. Saville’s graphic was described variously as resembling confetti, hundreds and thousands and a particularly exotic strain of dandruff. Commenters derided the design because it would not be visible from ‘row z’, declared confidently that the ‘average’ fan (although who knows who the ‘average football fan’ is these days) would not get it and suggested that Saville’s contribution was so minimal as to be pointless.

Shortly before the shirt’s unveiling, I interviewed Saville to get the full story on his involvement in what he describes as the most “potent” work he has ever done.

He was originally approached by Umbro, the shirt’s manufacturers, in November last year. At that stage, the basic design of the shirt – the cut, the collar and so on – had already been finalised. It had also already been decided that the shirt must be predominantly white, something that was introduced with the 2009 shirt design.

Saville’s brief was simply to suggest ways in which some colour might be introduced to the design while keeping it predominantly white. Doing something that would be ‘visible from row Z’ was never an option.

He was given “a few days, no more than a long weekend” to come up with a range of suggestions, which he did with the help of long-term collaborator Paul Barnes and Matthew Robertson, designer and author of the Factory Records book.

They came back with what Robertson remembers as a 50 page PDF of ideas, including patterns that incorporated the outline of England, patterns featuring the shapes of English cities and some that involved coloured piping down the sleeves. Umbro chose a small selection of these ideas to go forward with, one of which was the coloured piping, another an idea involving a pattern of tiny, multicoloured crosses.

This latter idea partly draws on fabric designs that Saville had seen while working for menswear label Kilgour, for whom he had been art director, ‘creative confidante’ and even model. Kilgour’s designer Carlo Brandelli had begun experimenting with using micro patterns in traditional fabrics. “So, says Saville “I knew that a pattern could be introduced to a white shirt while still keeping it a white shirt: that could be a vehicle for colour.”

Saville may have come at it from the direction of Savile Row but it’s an idea that, actually, has been fairly common in football shirts since the 80s where jacquarded synthetics incorporating club badges or geometric patterns have long been a design staple. He and his team experimented with various shapes, including squares, diamonds and plus signs. Barnes suggested turning the plus signs into crosses of St George and they realised they had something, particularly when tied in with Saville’s other notion of using a rainbow of many colours instead of just one. “A minimal field of the cross of St George in different colours – I knew what that meant,” Saville says. “Yes it was minimal, yes it was discreet but it still meant a big thing.”

Of all the ideas presented, Saville believed this one was among the least likely to gain approval. “My initial thought was no, that will be a step too far. But let’s show it,” he says. “I was pleased they liked the piping idea but that was just styling. This was potentially much more than that. Football shirts are not about anything – this was about ‘something’ and it’s reach is massive. But I didn’t see how it could go the distance.”

In fact, it hasn’t quite gone the distance. Saville originally wanted the pattern to cover the entire shirt. In the final version, it just covers the neck and shoulders, much of which will be obscured by the players’ names. Umbro are to bring out a limited edition version with the pattern covering the entire shirt. The full pattern also appears on the black goalkeepers’ jersey, but without the colours.

After presenting the ideas, Saville’s involvement in the approval process ended. He has no idea of how the FA or the England team or management reacted to the idea, he never got the chance to talk to them. But, he says, “the amazing thing is that Umbro picked up on it, were prepared to show it to FA and they didn’t veto it – except we saw it recede”.

And that is how, somewhat unbelievably, England’s footballers came to trot out onto the Wembley pitch wearing a shirt that Saville, in his inimitable way describes as “a vehicle of cultural provocation” – which is not necessarily what you expect to see on sale in JJB Sports for £49.99.

“It’s beautiful but it’s very loaded,” Saville claims of the design. Taking the cross of St George and rendering it in a rainbow of different hues is, he says, about acknowledging difference and promoting tolerance of those differences. “I was frustrated, along with many others, by the marginalisation of the cross of St George. It has acquired connotations that some of us don’t associate with and I find that frustrating because there is nothing wrong with it as a symbol. [The design] is a provocation. It’s not negative, it’s not aggressive, it’s not critical and I think it feels like England 2010. This is a country of lots of different people, get on with it.”

Saville likens the commission to being asked to design a stamp or a flag. “The England football team is a default national identity and the shirt is a sort of civic, national symbol. A generic for the society I live in.”

He was honoured to be asked, he says “how could you not do it?”. Similar requests in the past – whether to come up with an idea for a new flag or Olympic logo – have always been speculative proposals for magazines. This was for real.

It was also to be the second new England home shirt in 18 months, even though fans were originally told that the current design would last until 2011. Did he have qualms about getting involved in the cyclical, cynical business of selling replica shirts?

“I chose not to martyr myself on the cycle of their shirts,” Saville says, tongue firmly in cheek. “As commercial artists we do have to accept a certain amount of the culture we exist in. It is only because these things happen that we get to do things. There is a very clear delineation here between the different things I am doing. In my creative consultancy to Manchester I get to contribute my opinion – maybe to influence things, if you’re lucky, a little bit, sometimes. That’s one way of working. In the context of art, I can have and do have 100% autonomy to introduce something that I believe is worth introducing to a very limited and marginal audience. With art, if you are lucky, through a trickle down process, you might get to a larger audience. The England shirt was going to enable a direct route to a bigger audience than I ever had, even with a record cover. Part and parcel of the cycle of renewal is the fact that you get the audience, so you have to accept the reality that brings the opportunity to bear in the first place.”

The shirt, he claims, “is probably the most potent thing I’ve ever done, because other potent things I’ve done worked in a way not unlike art, by a process of osmosis. This is route one, direct to the pub. What else could you do that would have an equivalent potency of provocation? I don’t think a stamp would do it, I doubt even whether a flag would do it. This goes directly into the fabric of the nation, into pubs and housing estates and on televeision – it goes everywhere.”

But when it arrives, will many people ‘get’ it, or will they just think it’s a pretty pattern? “I looked at some of the comments on the Creative Review blog,” he says. “‘Saville’s done nothing again”. It’s a white shirt, that’s the brief, it had to be a white shirt, but I think it has more meaning than people realise. In context, this is pushing things and some people will not care, some people will like it, some people will be annoyed or offended by it. Great.”

Judging by the comments, a lot of people are struggling to equate what is a minimalist, seductively beautiful pattern with the grand claims Saville is making for it. But, says Saville, this is his style of operating.

“I used to worry that I was not iconoclastic in a Jamie Reid sort of way,” Saville says. “Jamie was taking a sledge hammer to the status quo, I was going via the coffee table. But, in the longer term, it’s the seductive, coffee table approach which has had a more profound effect on the way things are. It’s a very seductive form of subversion that questioned how things had to look, so that does tend to be the kind of complexion my work has taken because that is what I am like. I like people to like me and I like to get my own way and I tend to do that seductively or diplomatically rather than by shouting about it. Partly it’s the result of being the youngest of three brothers – you don’t get what you want by shouting about it, you have to find another way.”

And you have to wonder whether a more aggressively provocative approach would ever have got through the FA – not an organisation known for wanting to take a stand on, well, anything much.

I have now seen the shirt and the limited edition, all over-patterned edition. Reducing the area of the pattern is a compromise, but it’s not an unsuccesful one. As TV viewers will have seen from watching the game last night, England to all intents and purposes still appear to be playing in an all white shirt. Up close, there is a little bit of suprising detailing. Which seems wholly consistent with Umbro’s positioning of aligning itself with English tailoring – think of the Paul Smith formal shirts with illustrations of 50s pin-ups hidden under the cuffs for example. Saville says he prefers the all-over version – on a football shirt, I have to say I disagree.

Some commenters have declared that, because Saville ‘didn’t do much’, the work somehow fails to justify its fee (a fee, incidentally, that is probably about a tenth of what is being jealously imagined). I’m intrigued by this. What are we suggesting here? That the value of a piece of design should be equated with ink coverage? That the fee goes up in accordance to the number of typefaces used? Bizarre. He also seems to being criticised simultaneously both for being too obvious and too subtle in the pattern’s symbolism.

Commercially speaking, Umbro appears to have its bases covered with an idea that, as it is applied to point of sale, further merchandise and all kinds of other materials, will demonstrate that, in the parlance, it has great ‘scale’ and is eminently ‘campaignable’. If some fans don’t like it, most of it can be covered up by adding a favourite player’s name across it. And for the more conservative there is the retro/modern red away shirt.

More significantly, and much more interestingly, is the fact that the England football shirt is now being used to promote a message about tolerance and diversity. A lot of readers will roll their eyes at that, but surely it’s an admirable step? Think back to the 80s: Pre-Italia 90, pre Skinner and Baddiell, pre the social rehabilitation of football in England. This was a time when the England shirt and those who wore it were predominantly associated with a very ugly brand of nationalism. The very idea that, 20 years later, that same shirt could be used to challenge those ideas, however minimally, would have been inconceivable. Football has been a focus for those who believe in intolerance: surely it should be applauded for challenging that?


England home shirt, 1990

England Away shirt, 1990

England Alternate Away shirt 1992

How many designers, when given the brief to, effectively, add a bit of decoration to a white shirt, would have attempted anything so ambitious? I suspect that most would have concerend themselves merely with styling. The marriage of football shirts and graphics has not been a happy one (as shown above). Ever since the introduction of synthetic fabrics we’ve had a horror show of hideous zig-zags, crests and assorted nastiness. Finally, here’s something that is a step away from the standard graphic language of football, but which is stylish, considered and, yes, provocative.

Rather than deriding Saville, designers should be applauding him for this. And Umbro and the FA too. Work that attempts to convey something meaningful, to start a debate, work that challenges rather than panders to prejudices, that is provocative, that wants to be more than just styling, work that is done with style and wit, that says ‘to hell with convention and the Daily Mail mindset, let’s try something new’, that opens a door for others to follow and that tries to push a previously bland area into exciting new territory while still answering the brief: sounds like a result to me. Yes, alright, it’s only a few coloured crosses but it’s the context of the use of those crosses that is unprecedented and admirable.

For a full visual history of England shirts through the ages, go here




  • Req

    Well I’m happy when a proper designer gets involved in football shirts. Have never been fussed on England’s white kit anyway, it’s never worked for me as well as other white shirted kits like Germany, Valencia, Italy away or Colo Colo. But this is alright. As a micro/hidden design it’s certainly better than the outline of abs I have to put up with on my beloved Italy shirt.

    It’s the cut and shape of the shirt that’s more important, and I haven’t seen enough of this to judge. The dandruff/hundreds & thousands comments were rather silly though. What kind of nob head is going to think you have such things on your shoulders?

    Cheer up English, this is an improvement, even if your football is not.

  • td

    I’m listening to Joy Division as i write this – what a f***ing band! They’d be proud.
    And 4-0? Let’s hope for more…

  • Davy

    Shocking! Thought this was supposed to be an England shirt, Instead we get The United Nations FC, 9 months earlier than we were thought we had, to fork out another 40/50 quid for a shirt that looks like the top half of a pair of Long-John’s sprinkled with fairy dust! Can’t wait to see Germany playing in muti-coloured pyjamas & Argentina in green Y-fronts at the next World Cup!

  • Doc Snoddy

    [comment deleted by moderator]

  • The England kit should be red and white and that’s it.

    No blue. No pink. No yellow. No aquamarine…

    Red and white. You know, like the flag of England? The St George Cross.

    [comment deleted by moderator]

  • Ian Campbell

    No criticism of the designer, only of those who chose the shirt. I’m sorry to say that the shirt does indeed reflect England’s position generally among the home nations – practically invisible as a statement of Englishness. The team could have been playing for anyone. There is nothing wrong with England’s traditional colours – red and white – or its symbol, the Cross of St George. Compare this with the exciting Team England logo for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games which proclaims We are the English! And it’s not only the football shirt which has become so understated as the same applies to the latest cricket kit. These people are playing for England, for heavens sake. Be proud of it.

  • A

    Opinions on the actual design aside.; Im sorry, multicoloured st george crosses to represent a multi-cultural England. Am I the only one who doesn’t see this as groundbreaking thinking. Its hardly the deepest meaning ever, nor do I think its that provocative. This is 2010 not 1970. As someone has said the multicultural values of a country will be displayed by those who wear the jersey and England have had minorities donning the shirt for years now. We dont need coloured crosses to remind us of this.
    “This is a country of lots of different people, get on with it.” I think most British people do and Im writing this comment as a black proudly British Graphic design student

  • Phoenix

    “the shirt must be predominantly white”
    and the shorts 100% Scottish!!

    Because the English are second class citizens it is a mistake to think us fools.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ Ian Campbell, ‘Phoenix’
    Red and white have never been the colours of the England football team’s home kit. They have played in white shirts and (usually) blue shorts since internationals began. This is in common with other international teams whose traditional colours do not match those of their national flag eg Italy and Germany

    @ A
    I’m not arguing that the multicoloured pattern itself is a groundbreaking allusion to diversity (look at the gay pride flag, for example), only its use on the national football shirt. If you don’t think that is provocative, take a look at the comments here and on the previous post about it.

  • Chris Wetherill

    well I am sorry but it should have been red shorts and white top. It follows on from our flag which is white with a red cross.
    When I saw them come out in blue on Friday night I thought I was watching the Scotland match, and went to turn over.
    Put them back in red and white and stop messing about with the kit,

    Chris england fan

  • Birdy

    Utterly forgettable.

  • Emperor Rudie

    “Rather than deriding Saville, designers should be applauding him for this.”

    Thanks, but I think I can manage to think for myself.

    To defend this, as this post does, and present any criticism of this design as “anti-industry” is well beyond the pale. Your argument is at once patronising and simplistic – it wreaks of Bush’s “You’re with us or against us” logic. If you disagree with CR’s take on this you are “un-designer”.

    I think this is the most self-indulgent sort of design, the sort of design that makes it harder for all of us to sell work that is smart, on-brief and on-audience because it feeds the stereotype of designers as self-obsessed snobs. And, please, the intellectual foundation that this work sits on is paper-thin at best. Diversity = Multi-colours. England = St George Cross. Please.

    This sort of work is important because it can present designers as “one-of-us”, ie the we get the audience while still doing something that pushes the boundaries. Instead all this does is succeed in driving the wedge further between us and our audience.

    The solution is ‘nice’ but wrong. And presenting worse designs as some kind of proof of its success is pathetic. Yes there have been bad shirts before and now there is another one to add to the list. The fact that it is minimal and tasteful doesn’t make it less crap than those others you illustrated.

    Let’s be honest here, the only reason you are defending it so vehemently is because it is the work of the great Saville, but that doesn’t make it great, or even good. Sorry.

    If this was hanging in Paul Smith I would think it was a lovely piece of design, but as a football shirt it sucks – and you know it.

    Patrick, I think you need to step down off your pedestal and have a little more respect for your audience, we are capable of coming to our own, informed opinions and certainly don’t need to be lectured by an industry rag as to what those opinions should be. And hopefully the designer of the next England strip will also be able to climb out of their own backside.

  • there is a little bit of suprising detailing.Am I the only one who doesn’t see this as groundbreaking thinking.

  • When I watched the game I thought to myself are they wearing a new kit. The fact they played in blue shorts made it even better instead of the all white, which to me is to bland. I love what Saville has done with the strip it is so minimalistic. I never even noticed the crosses until the end of the game but from a distance they all look the same colour , it wasn’t until I looked on here when I found out they were different colours. The design is unique for an England shirt plus you will be able to distinguish a replica to the real thing, cause lets be honest who is going to put that much effort in making different coloured crosses hand stitched. Thumbs up to another simplistic idea that is effective even if you can’t see it from row Z. But who needs to.

  • Here’s to using graphic design to open a discourse…

  • Jack O

    would any of us have a different opinion of this shirt if we hadn’t been told it was by Peter Saville?

    in other news, I agree 100% completely with Emperor Rudie

  • stuartf

    utter nonsense. to reflect the multinational, multicultural background of today’s england? talk about superficial thinking. every england player is english, whatever his family tree says. the st. george flag is a red cross on a white background. a light blue cross on a white background, the last time i looked is the finnish national flag. absolute ignorance.

  • Matt

    as has been mentioned before, since when have England only played in red/white strips? Blue has always featured and not all other nations football strips follow the colour coding of the national flag. I don’t think the thinking behind it is particularly groundbreaking but i think its quite stylish as far as football strips go (although not as much as the chocolate brown Coventry away strip of the late 70’s early 80’s)

  • Dave O

    I’m sure everyone slagging this off would produce a miraculously amazing design, right?

    Armchair Generals, the lot of you.

  • Jay

    I’m not particularly interested in the England football team to be honest, I am however – a fan of England. I agree this debate wouldn’t be taking place if it wasn’t Peter Saville who designed the shirt, I think some of his designs are fantastic and he’s obviously made a huge cultural impact, which is more to the point. Alot of people aren’t acknowledging what Umbro / The FA are doing here, which is creating a cultural partnership between a well regarded designer (who’s reputation is founded upon hard work, daring & innovative ideas) A Brand & A Sporting Body, this I feel is a step in what I consider to be the right direction. Those talking about the stereotype of the ‘Graphic Designer’ being self-obsessed – surely this is the kind of thing that needs to happen to break down barriers between the various cultural sectors to eliminate these terms and definitions, which are founded upon misunderstanding from my personal perspective.

    It’s only self-obsessed in this context from what I can gather anyway, in the context of a discussion amongst designers on a design blog. There’s no acknowledgment of Saville’s input on the office England website when you go to purchase a shirt, there’s also no rhetorical dialogue about what people purchasing the shirt should make of the coloured crosses. Talking about how you came to your conclusions on a design blog, and of the potential cultural implications is hardly projecting a self-obsessed image out to the social sphere is it?

    I don’t personally think it’s going to make the grand gesture that has been suggested here, the way the project was initiated and carried out sounds a bit sloppy & slap dash to me, for a garment that is going to make such a ‘cultural impact’ – surely you’d take a bit more time? I think the outcome is probably one of the more tasteful England shirts and Umbro have certainly done a good job of making a nice cut, comparatively.

    I’m also in total agreement about the bad connotations associated with the St.George cross, although think the application of it isn’t as groundbreaking as Saville thinks it could be, even over time. An England shirt doesn’t exist as long as a well rendered record sleeve.

    I agree with some of the comments about the shirt not being amazing and groundbreaking, but think some people’s point of view are a bit over-zealous – although I do like reading a heated debate, like I said I’m not an England fan – so shoot me down now.

  • Jack O

    why would you single out the different nationalities and cultures with different colours? surely eleven red crosses, all identical, showing a unified england behind their england team would have been more appropriate?

  • mark greenwood

    I found the comments on the last article unbelievable. The kind of small-minded little-englander comments one would expect to hear on an LBC late-night phone-in, but not from an intelligent, design-aware CR readership.
    Lets just remind ourselves of the level of discourse:
    “rip off, same as the last one with a few rubbish little crosses”, “Multi-coloured dandruff” “Saville’s got to be the best designer at getting away with doing nothing for a lot of money.” “Admit it Peter, you just thought little multi-coloured crosses ‘looked nice'”

    How many times have designers moaned at clients who fail to see the depth and significance of of their work. Yet, here we have designers making banal snap judgements in exactly the same way. The hypocracy in our business is shaming.

    So well done Mr Burgoyne for following this up and giving us the background. Maybe a few people might put their prejudices aside, read the story again and rethink their point of view. But I doubt it.

  • It would have been nice to see this article blended with the one last week, to create a single balanced piece (rather than drawing out a mentally stimulating but visually disappointing story).

    Enough of England shirts, I’m off to the next article.

  • S Horne

    It’s a sports kit … who even cares what it looks like? They’re not ‘representing’ England; they’re a sports team comprised of English players; they’re representing English football and nothing else.

    I agree about the negative image that’s arisen around the use of the flag though; and not only is it a shame, it’s also the fault of English football.

    Where do I see England flags? Hanging off of vans on little plastic sticks; wrapped around tarts in cheap night-clubs and painted on council estate garage doors. And during events such as the World Cup we have the pleasure of the flags donning homes … not from a flag pole of course; but hanging in a window like a curtain, or in towel-form dangling from a bathroom.

    America is able to fly their flag with pride because it is so universally flown; however the England Flag is owned by classless lager spillers and is more reminiscent of gang-colours than a national flag.

    If we want to improve the image of the cross then rather than perpetuating it within football, ideally we need to remove it completely. Stick with the 3 lions and white/blue like we have in the past and let civilised folk reclaim the flag.

    And I also find it especially amusing that although I have no interest in luddites kicking a ball into a net I’ve still been able to observe that they have worn blue and white for decades; possibly forever. Why suddenly the calls for it to ‘return’ to red and white? Pay attention lads, if you stop thinking for too long your brains will fall out of your ears.

  • S Horne

    @Jack O

    That’s actually a very good suggestion; however this isn’t a feedback forum. As described in the article a massive selection was presented and this was the one chosen; I’m sure we could all come up with several ideas that WE would think are better; but that’s kind of irrelevant.

  • Tony Clarkson

    People on here are reacting as if Peter Saville smashed his way into the boardroom at Umbro and rammed this one idea down their throats, didn’t they read the article?

    Most designers will have thought of something at some point which we like personally but wouldn’t think in a million years that the client would go for it but shown it anyway, I know I have. And if it gets through, what then? Tell them ‘sorry, no. I just put that in there for me, didn’t think you’d pick it. What about this one instead…?’

    In my opinion, Sam Desborough’s comment sounds like the ideal response, it’s not meant to scream at you. The brief was that it still needed to be a white shirt. Umbro could have just put a coloured collar or a bit of piping in the seams and bingo! another £50 from each fan please, job done. Instead they decided to try something with a bit more to it.

    Lets face it, most fans will buy one anyway regardless of what it looks like and they’ll buy the next one, and the next one, etc.. Any hidden message will just pass over most of their heads but some might get it, some might like it more because there’s an idea behind it, some might not – it’s not something you need to worry about.

    I’d rather watch paint dry than a football match, but I like the shirt and I like the idea, and not just because of who worked on it. OK, that helps, but I wouldn’t walk around in one with ‘Saville’ stenciled across my shoulder blades.

  • Del Monte

    I agree with Emperor Rudie. Sorry Patrick but I found your article a little sycophantic and patronising. I don’t think that some multi-coloured St George’s crosses are going to make people think twice about their prejudices. Associating colour with multi culturalism is I think a huge part of the race issue anyway. We’re just one race of people and as someone mentioned above, the diversity of players and fans says a lot more about England than this design.

  • to me this just adds to my thoughts of saville continuing based on previous form.

    The idea is gloryfied nothingness. “just add colour” is not something any designer wants to here, but at least work with it to create something good.

    it would be nice to see this 50 page pdf though, it may make me retract my harsh statment.

  • I didn’t like the shirt when I first saw it, not just PS’s work but the actual shirt’s shape and look. However, having read the designer’s interview, he certainly does explain his thoughts and ideas well.

    It will probably grow on me, like the Olympics logo.

  • @ jack o – I can see your point here but the multiple colours of crosses on the shirt give some meaning behind the top. Now it’s not just any other top, it’s a shirt with multiple colours (a reflection of modern england, well at least the big cities). I can see that it can be interpreted in other ways. It’s a good idea, because it get’s people like us debating.

  • It’s still obviously an England shirt. If multi-colour means multi-cultural that’s a fair assessment of England and its society.

  • I think the shirt’s alright but using the St George cross motif in this way does bug me a bit. If you’re gonna use the cross you should probably keep it red. Maybe little multi-coloured lions would’ve been better but otoh maybe conflict with the blue lions on the badge (this blue and the royal blue of the new shorts is another conflict but not really a big deal I guess).

    I can’t think of an alternative motif to reflect that diversity angle tho… ‘mod’/target style circles or hoops are too cliched now but might’ve worked. Using the roses of the England badge in place of the crosses is another idea they may have considered and I like that more (tho again you feel that they should probably remain red).

  • When I read comments here alongside the previous lot, it resembles a football stadium full of beer bellied football ‘geniuses’ who would tell FA how to manage the national squad. They think Capello is an idiot as you do with Saville at this case.

    Since the new shirt is white, go nuts and design your own version and show it to the world as everyone did with the 2012 Olympics logo. The pile of poo that emerged then was rather hilarious, let’s see how you think to sort out the ‘dandruff’ problem. :)

  • it’s just a shirt, jeez. I saw it on the telly the other day and thought it looked cool. I’d wear it.

  • nor do I think its that provocative

    Clearly, from the discussion here and elsewhere, the use of multi-coloured St George crosses has proven to be very provocative indeed. Not only has Saville fulfilled the brief, that is the shirt is white but has “more going on”, but he has also got people talking about what symbolism is and isn’t acceptable for the England team, and for England as whole. Impressive.

  • Bryan Robson

    How about an England kit that looks like a Football kit, the last but one home kit looked more like a school hockey / rugby shirt that the kids have to wear (definately not from choice) and this new one is just a” grandad” shirt, glammed up a bit with different coloured crosses. What about something athletic and modern looking, ditch all this “modern tradition” (retro) crap. Give us a kit we don’t mind spending out on for our kids, which makes them look and feel good when they wear it, something that doesn’t make them look like a bunch of public school boys about to go on a cross country run. This is another kit, i as a parent, definately won’t be buying for my boys. “Dad, have you seen the new England kit, it’s rubbish” and this from the mouth of an 11 year old who loves the game and would love to wear an England kit he feels god in . Other teams must be laughing at our lot when they see them walking down the tunnel wearing those little jackets to hide their bland tops, i know i am. Get the sports designer back.

  • Jim Beam

    I like it.

  • dave dawson

    sorry but an england shirt should be about england
    not pandering to race relations / racial diversity wish lists


  • George Black

    Saville keeps saying there’s a profound statement going on here…I don’t see it. The crosses are tiny. And very bland. And the different colors could mean anything–there’s nothing to the casual observe that would suggest any meaning–the whole thing could simply be an introduction of color (what does blue represent??). And come to that, using a religious symbol to promote diversity? Does that even make sense? And the goalie crosses are ALL white? If multiculturalism is supposed to attach to the colors on the white shirts, what do the white crosses mean? No, no. Utter rubbish.

  • John Flemming

    Yeah, great, Saville makes Damien Hirsts’ dots into crosses and somehow he’s making a profound statement. Er…Not. Black is right. If this is a design made to provoke a discussion than I’m the King of England.

  • Football shirts are awful.

  • Dave B

    “bad connotations associated with the cross of St George” and these bad connotations are what exactly can someone please explain.

    England may be a multi-cultural country but the national flag remains the same RED and WHITE there are NO other colours.

    “the kind of small-minded little-englander comments” the words “little-englander” was first used by the British to describe the people of England who wouldn’t support the expansion of the British empire, the people of England who didn’t believe it was right for the British to go around throwing their weight about telling other nations how to lve their lives, going into other countries uninvited and helping themselves to whatever they felt like.

  • Dan

    This is 2010, not 1970. Based on my own experiences, I really don’t think people from ethnic minorities appreciate this kind of statement. In fact, intelligent people just find it patronizing. Saville should be congratulated for trying something new, but the meaning itself is dated and unnecessary. All it does is reinforce an ‘us and them’ mentality and highlight a superficial difference.

    It doesn’t matter if it tries to address some kind of antiquated discrimination attitude, the bottom line is that the issue shouldn’t exist anyway. Modern English people from ethnic minorities aren’t ‘ashamed’ of being part of English culture and don’t necessarily feel marginalized. Everyone will happily wear an England shirt – there’s no need to turn it into a patronizing ‘celebration of diversity’.

  • Jon

    diversity? Does that even make sense? And the goalie crosses are ALL white? If multiculturalism is supposed to attach to the colors on the white shirts, what do the white crosses mean? No, no. Utter rubbish.seo

  • Probably not the best sportswear garment to impose your style on. They could have chosen something a little less emotional like a shell suit but the england kit. Essentially, the guy was on a hiding to nothing, the ‘average’ england fan would know as much about design as Wayne Rooney knows about scoring in the world cup – not a lot. Personally, I quite like it, understated and contemporary! It is hard to find anything that is overstated or naff about the design.

  • Are you taking the “mickey” The F.A. should have better things to do like getting a decent National side rather than the second rate prima donnas they currently select. Oh and by the way. GET AN ENGLISH MANAGER/COACH.

  • Why can’t they just leave the kit the way it is for 10 minutes and worry more about what is happening on the pitch and with the squad than if they can sell enough shirts? Get one right it won’t matter what colour they wear.

  • Wow – Never realised so much work went into a football shirt – when you watch on a saturday its the last thing that goes through your head – Never mind the commercial and marketing behind the shirt launch

  • Great article – very enlightening and a fascinating glimpse of what really goes on behind the scenes. Thank you!