Date: 27th March 2009 at 10:27pm
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The new England shirt. Three Lions. Iconic. A sense of pride. Tradition. And a whole lot of pseudo-scientific claptrap and the most horrendous marketing speak you’ve ever heard.

It’s a shirt, damn it.

It’ll feel like it’s made out of recycled wellington boots, as always. It’s got all the usual badges, albeit ones which have somehow been redesigned to look, er… exactly the same.

Yet the way the creators of this paramount example of design endeavour bang on about it, you get the impression it could bring peace to the Middle East, end famine in Africa, save the car manufacturers of America and bring a smile to Gordon Brown’s face.. OK, I know I’m being ridiculous now.

But it’s the ne plus ultra, the capo di tutti capi – the Best England Shirt Ever.

Marina Hyde in The Guardian gave the designers a right good going over this week and she pretty much nailed it on her blog.. but there’s much more to provoke comment on the Umbro web site. Oh yes.

Apparently the new shirt ‘boasts some stylish design flourishes that won’t be immediately apparent to everyone’. Hey, thanks for making us feel like idiots, we didn’t notice your design flourishes.

Senior Designer David Blanch:

‘When it comes fabric composition you do tend to steer towards the ones with more technical appearance..’

Do you, David? Do you really? Tell me how fabric can be ‘technical’ in appearance. Actually, scrap that, I’m not sure I can stand any more.

‘Every little detail has been carefully thought about with the inside of the shirt having the same level of design consideration as the outside.’

Hmm, I don’t know if anyone told you guys this, but.. whisper it quietly.. we can’t see the inside of the shirt.

‘With a really innovative technology we’ve been able to pierce the fabric without it fraying, and we’ve done that under the arm and in the lumbar region. That will create a circulation of air and allow the hot air to escape.”

I think we know where the hot air is coming from, David, and it’s not Peter Crouch’s lumbar region. Speaking of which:

‘You wouldn’t want Crouch and Wright-Phillips to be wearing the same sized short’.

Really? I guess not. Peter would be singing the anthem falsetto. Shaun would have to have turn-ups. It’s good to know that England have a choice of sizes.

Creative consultant Aitor Throup:

‘The very interesting thing for me is how the idea of performance and style clash together and it actually goes full circle and back to performance, with the style of the kit being a psychological advantage.’

Holy crap, our boys have only got to walk on to the pitch and they’re practically a goal up already, just because they’ve got a new kit! Wayne Rooney is already the tournament’s top scorer and he’s only just put his socks on. Now that’s magical. David James will catch every high ball thanks to his super new shorts. Now we know you’re dreaming.

‘We’d all be going to the pub to watch the game and you’d care about what you were wearing because you`d got your new jeans on and your new jacket, but sometimes it was just too sporty to put on an England shirt with it.’

You’re going to the pub to watch the World Cup and you think putting your England shirt on is a bad thing? Pristine jacket and jeans, no replica shirt, the pub full of lagered-up Three Lions-clad flag-waving maniacs – you’re going to get beer thrown at you, Aitor, you really are.

However, one of the designers gets it 100% right. Design Director Devon Burt:

‘When I looked at it I kind of scratched my head because it seemed to me that they (Umbro) were now spending way too much time trying to be everything but who they really were.’

At last, a man who cuts to the chase. He’s a designer and even HE is losing the will to live working at Umbro. You’re not going to stop them though, Devon, they’re on a mission to justify their own existence as creative thinkers and nothing is going to get in their way. These are men who think detachable care labels are the future of rock and roll.

It’s a shirt, damn it.

And finally, here’s one thing no-one at Umbro dares to mention, or the FA will come down on them like a ton of bricks:

It may be the Best England Shirt Ever. But it’ll be changed in a couple of years time.