Barcelona have released their new home kit for the 2021-22 season, and they have struck out in a daring new direction.
The new uniform was unveiled for the first time at a special event at the Camp Nou on Tuesday, with an event that featured dozens of fans of all ages standing behind Barca stars Caroline Graham Hansen, Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Marta Torrejon as well as club president Joan Laporta.
The new jersey, manufactured by Nike, has also been modelled for the launch by players including Antoine Griezmann, Jennifer Hermoso and Gerard Pique. It features the traditional red-and-blue stripes we have come to expect from Barca, but with several new disruptive design features which might take getting used to for some of the club’s fans.
The flanks and sleeves of the shirt are different colours on each side, and the width of the stripes changes halfway down at a point where the lines break behind the sponsor logo. Most notably, the pattern is broken up by a patchwork design which is inspired by elements on the Catalan club’s crest, namely the cross of San Jordi (the patron saint of Catalonia) and the region’s striped “Senyera” flag.
But for all of the various ideas that have been thrown at the jersey, it’s the shorts which feel the most radical. They are of a half-and-half design, with the red and blue halves placed in direct contrast to the corresponding part of the jersey above.
Perhaps there is an outside chance that the shirt could be a grower among the club’s supporters over the next few months, and maybe even earn cult status in years to come. But the shorts probably don’t stand as much of a chance of flying off the shelves, especially when they cost around $85.
Perhaps Georginio Wijnaldum got a sneak peek at the shorts during his protracted contract negotiations over a free transfer to Barcelona this summer, prompting him to make a bee-line for Paris Saint-Germain instead.
For all the striking impact of the new kit, the incorporation of so many elements of the club’s iconic badge is at least an admirable attempt to connect with their history.
The emblem dates back to 1910, when Barca held a competition among their members to create a new crest. The competition was eventually won by artist Carles Comamala, who also happened to be a former player for the team.
Comamala introduced a new bowl-shaped shield with two upper quarters occupied by the San Jordi cross and the “Senyera.” The club initials (FCB) were stamped across the middle, while the lower half was filled with Barca’s trademark “blaugrana” stripes and a football.
Comomala’s design has undergone several tweaks over the years but the essential format has remained the same. It has become something of a timeless classic, a fate for which the club’s new kit is unlikely to be destined.