From cooler jerseys to searching for the Predator’s soul, JayC (@nosajpersonlah) shares his wishes for 2019
For a World Cup year, 2018 was relatively quiet on the football boot front. Most brands opted to evolve instead of revolutionizing their silos. We saw New Balance and Under Armour make their comebacks with the Tekela Pro and Magnetico Pro. Nike finally incorporated Flyknit into all of their top range boots. Even Puma prioritized their Netfit system on their Puma One 1 and the Puma Future 2.1, even if a good number of their athletes have chosen to go laceless with the latter.
Instead, it was in the football jersey front where we really saw the brands play their best cards – making sure that all their jerseys performed as strongly on the pitch, as it would on the streets. adidas brought back their wildly popular retro designs whilst Nike produced THAT Nigeria kit which was sought after by everyone.
But enough of 2018. 2019 is upon us and here are 5 of my football boot and jersey wishes for the new year.
If an adidas Predator doesn’t have leather, a foldover tongue or swerve elements, is it still a Predator? The answer, according to adidas, is clearly yes. Over the years, we’ve seen the Predator lose much of its previous identity. The Predator X was the first to shed the tongue. The Predator LZ moved from leather to a synthetic upper and the Predator 18+ and 18.1 have adopted a knitted upper.
I’ve heard the argument that the Predator series isn’t about those specific elements, but more of a statement of intent by adidas to showcase their latest tech into a single boot. And I respect that.
But there’s a point where the Predator stops being a Predator and that’s when the swerve or curl elements are no longer around.
You can remove the leather upper and the tongue in the name of ‘modernisation’, but take away the swerve elements and you have a rebranded Ace 17+. I’d argue that with the quad-fit system, the Nike PhantomVSN Elite looks like a more modern and high-tech boot than the Predator 19+.
Noting that adidas tends to make bigger changes to their silos every 2 years I’m expecting a big at the end of the year. Over to you adidas.
2. Longer Release Cycles
Easily my biggest pet peeve about the modern day football boot in general. We’re now seeing big brands like adidas opt for a yearly refresh for their silos, which are more like face-lifts than a new boot. We saw that with the X16 and 17 which had pretty much the same upper and construction, before giving us a new boot with the X18.
The worst culprit of all would probably be Puma which launches on a 6-8 month refresh schedule, which is quite frankly, ridiculous. As a consumer, I’ve stayed away from Puma boots because in the back of my mind, I know latest and greatest is coming out in just a few months’ time.
On this end, it feels like Nike’s got it down, refreshing their model once every 16 – 18 months. This ensures that there’s ample time for them to think through and make meaningful updates to their release.
Sure, they do ‘ninja’ updates to their silos, like the Hypervenom Phantom 3 going through minor upper changes to increase durability, but that feels a lot more palatable than releasing a ‘new’ boot with just a paint job. And a rubberised heel.
3. More Hypebeast Worthy Jersey Designs
Gone are the days where the only places you should wear a football jersey was at a stadium. These days, football jerseys are so well designed that even local ‘hypebeasts’ are featuring them on their social media and websites. As someone who’s located in Singapore where the weather is hot and humid, this is a godsend as the breathable material on jerseys help keep us cool.
adidas knocked the ball out of the park this season, with the pink Manchester United jersey in particular, being a favourite for us here at BOOTHYPE. The Parley third kits were also a beautiful touch, combining the idea of saving the ocean with fashion. 2 thumbs up from us.
On the Nike front, we saw them take risks, with the 3rd kits of clubs such as Inter Milan, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma and Barcelona all paying homage to their respective cities. They launched the Jumpman x PSG jerseys for PSG’s Champions League campaign. While I thought the Jumpman jerseys were understated in style, I loved the idea behind the collab. Hopefully we’ll see more of those in the future as the lines between sport and fashion continue to blur.
4. Better Takedown Models
As someone who coaches students age 15-18, you realise that budget is an issue for the young ones. This means that take-down models are often an attractive choice due to their pricing. Brands often use the ‘Elite’ models as faces of their silos but a large portion of their sales actually come from the take-down model that attracts young kids.
In this respect I’d have to give Nike a shout-out, having produced near Elite-level performing boots with their Tiempo Legend 7 Pro and the Mercurial Vapor 12 Pro. The Vapor 12 Pro’s performance has been likened to the Mercurial Vapor 11 and is widely considered as one of the best takedown models. We’ve also seen adidas offer laceless tech on their Predator 19.3 model as well, although performance-wise, plaudits have not been as forth coming.
Hopefully in 2019, we’ll see more brands step up and deliver takedown models that perform at levels comparable to their elite models.
5. Smaller Brands To Step Up Their Game
Everyone loves a good under-dog story. It’s why the 2016 Leicester City Premier League title win is still beloved in the hearts of many neutral football fans. The football boot equivalent of that would be New Balance Visaro Pro in 2015 which was legitimately one of the best boots of 2015.
In 2018, we saw some of the smaller brands deliver legitimately exciting boots such as the Rebula 2 v1, the Tekela Pro and the Magnetico Pro. While they were by no means perfect, they were all well-performing boots which I’d definitely recommend others to give a shot – a far cry from previous boots such as the Under Armour Spotlight, Mizuno Basara or the Visaro Pro 2.
I’m a huge fan of testing out different brands and the innovation that they can bring to the table. Here’s hoping that these smaller brands can take their boots to the next level in 2019. I’m confident that if they tweak some of the less functioning areas of their boots, we could have another upset on the cards in the boot of the year category again.