What is a Community Kit?
You may have grown up with the idea of "home" and "away" kits. That’s not where MLS and adidas are any longer.
With the creation of the 2019 Nightfall kit, adidas created a Community Kit for Seattle Sounders FC. It was followed by a primary kit in 2020: Forever Green. In 2019, the league wasn’t promoting the "community" terminology as they are now, but since it worked: clubs will shift to primary and community kits. Sounders wear community kits 6-8 times each season and typically in extra competitions (Open Cup, CONCACAF, etc.).
Community Kits: tell a story of cultural commitment or devotion within the area, a community partnership, a theme, an event, the historical story of how an area has grown, non-profits, geography, and more: go down any of those rabbit holes, and community stories abound.
Primary Kits: tell a club related story: team or club culture, commitment to the sport, a particular part of a club’s history or team growth.
Kits always alternate between light and dark each year. For us, even years are light, and odd years are dark.
The roles of the Club and the Alliance Council in kit design are quite a bit different than what we thought they’d be:
adidas starts working on their ideas about three years out. The Club receives a presentation outlining an over-arching theme and design direction from adidas each spring, just about two years prior to the actual kit release. Taylor Graham alerts the Alliance Council’s jersey group as soon as he knows that presentation is on its way. We get together and view it as soon as we can, and the AC jersey group has about a week to return ideas to Taylor. While the Alliance Council’s group is working on our ideas, our Club is working on their own. We compile our ideas and send them to Taylor, and the Club filters and sends one composite presentation to adidas.
It’s important to note that these presentations do not design jerseys. What adidas wants to know from the Club is "What stories are important?" The Club takes our ideas, considers them with the collection of their own, and see what new concepts are stimulated from there. Our role is to contribute ideas, not to critique.
Many of the Alliance Council members who worked on the jersey group in 2019 submitted music and graffiti images and ideas. One Alliance Council member suggested a Jimi Hendrix theme that year. Other ideas were submitted as well, but we’ll keep those under wraps: they could still be used at some point. It’s not uncommon for many AC members to end up centered around a similar idea, and we don’t know why that happens - the group conversations don't typically start off that way.
It’s pretty cool to see how a brainstorming shows up later. Every year, it’s cool, but this time in particular. We’re lucky to be included. A collaboration with the Hendrix family shows how fantastic the Club’s outreach is, and we should be proud of and awed by them. The story is so fully developed and rounded out, it’s just wonderful.
For those of you who think the kit should be traditional: you might like some of the kits. For those of you who think the kits should be more colorful and splashier: you might like some of the kits. For those of you who think the kits should be the primary colors: you might like some of the kits. Notice a pattern? For those of you who think the wild ones should only be reserved for the third kits: third kits went away years ago. For those of you who think we should have a different sponsor: you’re going to have to cough up a hell of a lot of money.
The Alliance Council has been very vocal about having a third kit for the 50th Anniversary: we believe the special occasion warrants one. If it’s not allowed, then let us have a kick ass kit to celebrate an incredible event for our Club. We’ve been delivering this message for years now. We’re confident the Club has heard us and is representing us well. Being adamant and tenacious doesn’t mean we have any power in this conversation. Can the Club even influence this? We certainly hope so. The 50th Anniversary is a very special time as our legends walk among us: on the pitch and in the stadium. Let’s celebrate together.
We hope this has been helpful information –
Jerry Neil and Stephanie Steiner