In the latest episode of American sportswear giant, Nike’s, experimentalist interpretation of the Nigerian football kit, a new design has emerged that can rightfully rival the iconic 2018 ‘Naija’ jerseys.
On Wednesday, Nike released its newest set of country kit selections for Korea, the United States, and Nigeria. Once again, the Nigerian designs have stood out with the sportswear giant reverting to a primordial Swoosh for inspiration.
According to a statement on Nike’s website, the kits mesh “traditional aesthetic of an agbada robe with modern football design.”
The agbada robe is a popular loose-fitting piece of clothing in West Africa that is particularly popular among the Yorubas. It is worn on special and momentous occasions.
“The kit’s pattern was hand-drawn and is highly symbolic of Nigerian heritage with nods to nobility and family. Nigeria’s crest is placed centrally on the chest with a Swoosh underneath it,” Nike wrote in a statement on their website. “The player names and numbers integrate the eagle feather into the application. ‘Naija’ appears inside the neck of jersey and on the back of the socks in a new typeface.”
Unlike the iconic ‘Naija’ kits that had the nation’s crest placed to the left, the new home shirts have the crest placed in the middle, and the Swoosh follows as well as the player’s number.
The jagged outlines of the previous kit still remain to an extent. But they are moved to the sides to make way for white space in the middle; making the shirt have a passing resemblance to the national flag.
“The away kit is inspired by Onaism, a traditional artistic movement central to Nigerian design and craft represented in the trim details,” according to Nike. “An eagle feather aesthetic, creatively distorted, continuously repeats in ascending size to create a visual impact. The collar has a slight V overlap with a thicker overlap in the back. Both the collar and the sleeves feature a slight nick at the mid-point.”
Onaism is an artistic model of Yoruba civilization in relation to Nigerian visual art. It gained prominence in the years before Nigeria received independence from the British Empire.
The word ‘Ona’ itself is a larger representative of the Yoruba interpretation of art and all its derivatives including the stylistics of individual creators; the rise of Onaism in the 1950s was regarded as a new dawn for Yoruba culture.
Perhaps taking influence from that new dawn of an ancient culture, the jerseys represent a new dawn for Nigerian football globally. The new kits will make their debut during the qualifying campaigns for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2022 World Cup.
Nike’s announcement also added that the kits were not the only football-related material they’d be releasing this year, fans would be able to purchase a vest, a dress or even a poncho with a Nigeria design.
It remains to be seen how well the new Swoosh designs will be. 2018’s iconic jagged ones, modeled by Wizkid, had about three million pre-orders – a record for an African nation – and was adjudged the best kit at the 2018 Mundial in Russia.