57. Hummel 'Track' (1986-90) *
Have you ever watched one of those TV shows where a bunch of hapless individuals are given cooking challenges to complete against the clock? If so, two things. Firstly, you have my sympathy. Secondly, how awful it must be to receive a printed list of three or four ingredients and a recipe that says "Now make a Cordon Bleu-standard gateau with the above ingredients - you have 15 minutes"? Well, that's essentially what Hummel do (and always has done) in the world of football kit design. Join me as I attempt to explain this laboured metaphor...
From left: Aarhus (1987-88 home), Brøndby (1988 home), Coventry City (1987-89 away), Feyenoord (1987-90 away).
If you think it's easy to design football shirts, it really isn't - and don't let some 17-year-old wet-behind-the-ears podcaster tell you any different. It requires creativity, restraint, an eye for detail and a special talent for knowing which elements work best together. Hummel were always great at that and could make something tasty from just a few key ingredients.
As my good friend John Devlin always says, a decent shirt design begins with a good collar. Think of it as the eggs in a cake recipe. They bind everything together. Get the collar wrong, and the whole shirt can look wrong. In the case of our featured template (worn between 1986 and 1990), Hummel employed their classic wrapover collar that featured a single stripe running through its middle. Stylish, but simple, you couldn't wish for a better foundation upon wish to build the rest of the shirt.
From left: Hellas Verona (1987-90 home and away), Molde (1987-88 home), Norway (1986-87 home).
Next, you need a key flavour that will wake up the taste buds without lingering in your mouth for the next six weeks. Hummel could always come up with that, thanks to their chevron motif. They often used it in their logo taping, and on the template I've provisionally called 'Track,' they applied it to the shoulders and sleeves (not to mention the sides of the shorts, in many cases).
Back in the latter half of the 1980s, shadow patterns were a key part of any decent shirt, and Hummel had one that added a touch of class to any of their designs. Rather cleverly, it was also based on a chevron split into two halves, alternately shaded and repeated to make an eye-catching visual effect. It sweetened their template design just enough, like the sugar that no cake would be without.
From left: Norway (1987 away), Pisa (1988-89 third), Real Madrid (1986-88 home and away).
Often overlooked is the fit of the shirt, and Hummel even got that right. Not too baggy and not too tight, it had the ideal appearance, no matter who wore it. Much like the flour in a recipe, the fit provides structure if applied in the right way, but can make the finished product stodgy and just plain wrong.
To provide the final cherry on the top, a little piping was applied where the raglan sleeves were attached to the body of the shirt. Not strictly necessary, you might think, but a delightful little extra that makes the whole thing look complete.
From left: Southampton (1987-89 away and third), Sunderland (1989-90 third), Vejle (1987 home).
Of course, any recipe can be changed to suit individual tastes, and Hummel were able to provide options that didn't detract from the classic original. Some teams, like Norway and Wales, preferred a winged collar overlaid on their wrapover neckline. Wimbledon (in their vintage Crazy Gang form) opted for a more intricate word-based shadow pattern instead of the shadows.
Even the style of Hummel logo varied from one version of the template to another, although in fairness it wouldn't have been on a list of changeable features determined by the team in question. Even so, it was nice to see the classic bumblebee device as much as the wordmark of the company.
From left: Wales (1987-90 home and away, 1988 third), Wimbledon (1988-89 home).
A similar design was also produced around the same time by Hummel. It featured the 'Wimbledon' style of shadow pattern, straight vertical piping and a shallow wrapover collar. For me, however, the raglan sleeves and chevron weave of the fabric are the optimum styling for this great template.
So there you have the perfect recipe for a football kit. All the right ingredients were used, all in the right proportions, and all for the right reasons. Worn regularly in Scandinavia, England and Italy, it remains a brilliant creation, fondly remembered by people who love football shirt design.
And that's where my knead for so much baking terminology ends. Must I prove it any more conclusively?
With grateful thanks to Adam’s Shirt Quest for his help in researching this template.
Once again, the kit community has come to my aid with further examples of our featured template.
First of all, Andy Rockall brought deep shame upon me by pointing out that Tottenham Hotspur wore the Hummel 'Track' template for their 1987-89 home shirt. How did I miss that? Well in my defence, I may have overlooked Spurs' 1987 FA Cup Final shirt due to the lack of some Hummel sleeve taping in alternating colours... except it really was there, as Andy was able to confirm. It was in fact coloured completely white (like the rest of the shirt). Silly me for missing a virtually invisible feature like that. Anyway, lesson learned, and thanks to Andy for bringing that to my/our attention.
Secondly, the ever-reliable Daniel Hansen was on hand to tell us about three 'Track' kits. In Northern Ireland, Linfield (who I now see were serial template offenders) wore a fetching blue version with white and red trim, Real Betis wore a lovely green away shirt with white detailing in La Liga, and Rosenborg wore a white shirt with black trim in Norway. All three look wonderful, and they, along with Tottenham can be seen below and in the Hummel 'Track' template gallery.
My grateful thanks go to Daniel, and as ever, you're invited to tell me about any additional template kits you may have seen yourself. To do so, go to the Kitbliss Contact page and let me know all the details. Your feedback is very much welcome.
* Unofficial template name