Being a part of the Union’s Kit Collective is one of the coolest accomplishments I barely did anything to achieve. I made a couple jersey mockups and run a amateur podcast with my brother and that was all it took to be invited to join the group that made almost all other Union fans (rightly) jealous.
Secretly knowing what the upcoming season’s jersey would look made me feel more powerful than someone of my stature should feel amongst my fellow supporters, even my brother. I started to notice the subtle incorporation of lightning bolts in the Union’s graphics over the last season such as the “Fight for Philly” branding and playoff clinching graphics. Every time I noticed one, I internally sent that Captain America/“I understood that reference” gif to myself in excitement. I was giddy when I started seeing the Union tease the kit, knowing exactly what it meant and enjoying all the speculation from my ivory tower of prestigious Union kit knowledge.
With the first result of the Collective’s work now revealed, I exhale. Now everyone can join me in marveling at this kit. It is truly spectacular. Due to previously living in Virginia and some unlucky scheduling, I missed out on the initial meetings that culminated this concept but I was immediately on board once I first saw the renderings. I wasn’t sure what I expected entering my first meeting but I know it wasn’t this.
A kit inspired by Ben Franklin and the city in a way that wasn’t overplayed or forced. And yet was still more than a jock tag or small detail to prove some sort of concept; a tactic seen far to often with other MLS kits. While this kit packs a punch, it has great balance in color and details to make it quite wearable. The new lightning motif looks fantastic, it could’ve gone cheesy or gaudy quite easily.
Maybe more importantly, a kit that isn’t white! Rejoice to the soccer gods. Forming this collective and then producing a white kit would have been frankly unforgivable. Getting an inside look at how the jersey design process worked showed just how little control teams are given but this one was a must. The light blue and stark yellow bring new life that we haven’t seen in a Union kit possibly ever, at least to this extent.
The Collective was tasked with creating a simple and restricting brief to provide to Adidas to use to create the design for the kit. I imagine this brief getting sent over to the Adidas global headquarters in Germany in a confidential envelope going through an elaborate maze of tunnels to a secret design studio where all kits are designed. In my head, this studio is a small, poorly lit room with scraps of jersey fabric covering the place and a TV switching between live games throughout the world and looping David Beckham highlights. The few lucky inhabitants of this room aren’t designers, but wizards— German wizards.
With a precise brief and some luck, the wizards provide the Union with something truly electric (I had to have one lightning pun, I think that was the rule). The new look moves the Union brand in an exciting new direction. Building on staple branding elements such as the snake and shield, the lightning bolt is added to the arsenal to provide a spark (okay sorry, two) and give a nice nod to the Sons of Ben. This advancement of the brand comes with good timing (aside from the looming possible lockout and, ya know, the pandemic) after the Union won their first trophy and sold on homegrown players to Europe for serious money.
What I’m saying is that this jersey is coming out when the Union earned the ability to flex a bit. This jersey wasn’t a desperate attempt from a middling franchise to try to make some noise and invigorate a fanbase that’s losing patience. Moral feels like its is at an all time high (again, aside from the lockout/pandemic) amongst Union fans and this jersey feels like a perfect gift to the “Posidelphian” fanbase.