Club Atlético Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires is one of the planet’s most famous sides. The Argentine giants’ colours, even with instances of variation, are as iconic as they come.
Sportswear product and graphic designer Emre Gultekin more than does the history justice, even including the pre-1907 years, when Boca wore black and white stripes, sky blue, and then thin blue stripes.
But when that lattermost design was deemed too similar to the kit of fellow porteños Nottingham de Almagro, the teams played a match to decide who could keep the look. Nottingham won, meaning Boca needed something new. They elected to wear the colours of the flag of the next boat to sail into the Boca (mouth) port, and it turned out to be a Swedish vessel, so blue and yellow - or “azul y oro (blue and gold)” - it was.
We think of Boca Juniors in that unmistakable blue shirt with gold band, but the first example of the new palette featured a diagonal sash - not unlike the design of eternal city foes River Plate. It didn’t last long, and Emre’s gallery is largely a work of permutations rather than revolution - as far as the Home kits are concerned, at least.
That’s not to say there aren’t oddities and interest-piquing quirks. Think argyle pattern socks, iconic sponsors - fateO, Fiat, Parmalat and Quilmes, to name but four - and the four-star initials crest turning up late to the party before making way for the super-starry, glory-commemorating version we know so well.
The last 50 years has really been a tale of two manufacturers, and you can guess which. adidas gave the iconic via the three-striped understated Home shirts of Diego Maradona’s early career, and, notably, the West Germany-style “ribbon” Away, along with a rare scatter pattern design probably otherwise associated with the USSR. Both of these change shirts were quite a contrast to the largely plain, or twin-banded yellow and white alternatives of earlier years.
And Nike brought the controversial. From the white-trimmed band upsetting Maradona during his return to La Bombonera, to much wider than standard bands, and a whole array of change colours and supporter-irking designs, the US manufacturer certainly flexed drawing board muscle - not least with the centenary releases. Though they also delivered a retro sash model and a Swedish flag variant which charmed many.
And now, adidas have returned. An understated - safe - Home and a Marmite ribbon retread Away have kicked things off. It begs the perennial question: where do they go from here?