We're proud to announce our first exclusive interview with a top football kit manufacturer on footballshirtculture.com
John Woodfield, Director of Joma UK was kind enough to answer some questions about the Joma brand and their football kits. We asked some friends of FSC to help out with some questions. Many thanks to John Woodfield, Simon Shakeshaft, John Devlin, Chris Oakley.
Questions : FSC
1) Can you tell us how the proces of designing a football kit goes, and how long it takes from A-Z to create it?
Joma UK ) The process is always ongoing, as soon as Joma and the club launch a new kit we are starting on the next seasons requirements. The process includes research within the History of the Club, and to the requirements by many of those involved, Chairman, Board Directors, Manager, Commercial Director,and supporters. For Joma the full timescale of the process from initial research and then selected designs, to manufacture, to launch at the respective club takes 10 months.
2) What does it take to become a football kit designer?
Joma UK ) Firstly a degree in garment design, secondly experience in Sports performance wear, design and performance specificatons, and then knowledge of the sport the design is being considered for and the regualtions by the sport surrounding the products.
Questions : Simon Shakeshaft from Footballmatchshirts
1) Which personnel with a club you are designing a new kit for has the most influence in the new style, eg the manager, the chairman/board of directors or the commercial department?
Or do you get given complete autonomy over style and design and then provide samples of different ideas for them to choose from?
Joma UK ) This varies from club to club and can depend very much on the partnership the Kit suplier has with the club. From a kit suppliers perspective you wish to provide the best quality garment you can and in keeping with the Sports brand tradition, but always in recognition of the clubs needs. Most brands will have the expectation to design the product as that is why the club has appointed them,in addition to the sports brands guarantee that will have been built up over many years, so the purchaser has confidence in that brand and his or her club and will enjoy the experience of buying and moreover wearing the product. There is not one major influence at any club, it is a collective decision making process, which then will lead to designs being presented in graphic form before being made into samples.
2) How much consideration do you have the give to clubs traditional colour scheme and history when you design a new style? Does the tradition help or hinder?
Joma UK ) Quite a lot of consideration is given to this area of the design process, and really tradition always helps as the club has and is always going to be around as long as brands are or longer.
3) How much does this particularly apply when you design a totally new style away or third kit? How brave are you to introduce new colours into a teams kit that have never been traditionally associated with that club?
Joma UK ) The Joma brand has shown how brave it is with Sevilla's flouro kit in the UEFA cup last season, and the "picasso paint " design on the Costa Rica kit worn in the opening game of the World Cup. There is a greater "freedom " for any kit design which has not got the responsibility of carrying the tradition and heritage of being the Home playing kit. An away kit needs to also recognise the times it will be worn and who against, so Joma regularly discusses this with the club secretary. As for bravery, sometimes that is down to the football club and it's knowledge of their own fans and whether they think their supporters would like to be different enough.
4) Many of the new style kits are generic to manufacturers all that changes is the colours, so what can you tweak to help make a kit style unique to a club, is it just colour or anything else?
Joma UK ) Joma UK will always strive to offer a unique design to each of the clubs we are the official kit supplier to, as can be seen with Charlton Athletic, Cardiff City, Derby County and Queens Park. We do not need to think then on how to "tweak " a design as it starts out as an original for that club and remains as is for that term of its life.
5) Are you aware in the design process about slight differences between shop replica's and the shirts the players wear, or is that a manufacturing issue further down the process? With a number of "smaller" manufacturers not having these differences are you as a designer even aware they exist?
Joma UK ) The Joma brand only makes one quality shirt, this is then used by everyone, players and supporters. I am aware of other brands offering amended quality in their associations with clubs and these are not confined to "smaller" sports brands, but as I say, Joma makes one quality of product. There is no
real issue in the manufacturin g process that can not be overcome, however if this is happening it may be for good reason.
Questions : John Devlin from True Colours
1) I have a suspicion that kit design in recent years has moved away from the 'designed to look good with jeans' trend of the 90s and early 00s, do you think that is true? Are kits going back, primarily,to being merely functional items for use on the football field rather than the high street?
Joma UK ) For Joma, we approach the design from a performance based perspective. Additionally, club management , players, supporters always wish the garment to be aestheically pleasing to the eye, which we take into consideration. The design for "wearing with Jeans look" is not something a manufacturer can really control, with fashion changing quicker than sportswear and the time lines required to deliver the new playing kit, it is rarely going to be in tune with one another.
2) It seems that football fans prefer a plain and simple, clean and traditional approach to football kit design, while those fans who have a big interest in football kits themselves seem to get excited by the more contemporary, daring and flashy kits (like adidas' recent templates) with coloured panels and plenty of trim. Which of these approaches do you think makes a good kit?
Joma UK ) For Joma, we prefer, classic clean lines, that can reflect the heritage and traditional colours of the club.
Questions : Chris Oakley From Some people are on the pitch
1) What's the most easy and difficult aspects of designing a kit for a team?
Joma UK ) The easy part is traditional colour selection, the most difficult... Waiting for Sponsor confirmation and that companys artwork, then addressing how it should translate within the product.
2) How aware are you of design trends used by other manufacturers and do you try to follow them yourselves?
Joma UK ) We are aware of trends, but try hard not to follow but do our own thing with the club, ater all that's why we have been appointed, to make a difference.
3) How loose or specific are the requirements that are laid down by the teams you design for?
Joma UK ) This vary's from club to club, and we can work both ways. Generally a good club will run the football club and allow the partners involved to deliver the designs for selection with qualification as to the research behind each one.
4) Are you open to suggestions or submitted design ideas from the public?
Joma UK ) If there was quantifiable and qualifiable reasoning behind the suggestion, we would consider it and discuss with the club the merit of the suggestion.
5) How easy is it to come up with new ideas for kits?
Joma UK ) As long as we all have one head and two arms, it remains within the boundary's of the human form !. Seriously, each design is a challenge as it should be. We will continue to seek either new eco friendly fabrics, performance enhancing fabrics and the latest technology in sponsor and club badge applications.
6) Which of your competitors do you admire most with regards to the kits they design?
Joma UK ) Each has their own requirement,so some I personally like and some I do not, but that's as far as I look.
7) What do you feel have been your most popular kits?
Joma UK ) I think this is one for the fans of the web site to answer not me.