The replica market comes with challenges. How do you keep the same coloured home shirt interesting each season? How do you respect tradition but move forward? Look back at any club's last ten home shirts and you'll see very little change. But 2019 may have paved the way for a new era of experimental progress when it comes to kit design.

Replica can become stale quite quickly – mainly for the above reasons – but it's Nike who are leading a stand against the bland, swapping minimal for manic with a dash of mash-up. Had we become unfulfilled with the minimal trend? Perhaps we had. But since Nike have been giving us a taste of the unknown we've developed an appetite for more. Is the mash up movement taking the concept to the very edge of ridiculousness before reining it back in? If so then we're ready for a 2019/20 season that delivers a re-set of the rules of replica.


In previous years brands wouldn't have even toyed with the idea of launching something as experimental as the Nike x Inter Milan mash up jersey as a genuine home shirt (not since the turn of the millennium, anyway), but now with the sold out signs visible, a demand for more, and an attitude that questions how a football shirt should look, the idea seems completely plausible. Because, well, because why not?

Why should jersey design conform to the norm? Everything is there to be shot at in terms of design, and a stale spell presents opportunity. In recent seasons most clubs that were brave enough to try something outrageous have reaped the rewards; some recent examples being PSG x Jordan, Nigeria 2018 home, Australia Women's Home, that England 2018 warm-up shirt we all wanted. There's a serious appetite for the unusual, and the mash-up jersey confirms that.

Yeah okay, the Man City mash-up wasn't as sharp as the Inter Milan edition, but what it has done is lay the foundations for Nike to dial down the crazy but still deliver something that breaks the mould.


These mash-up jerseys are obviously a combination of retro home jerseys, and it could well be the limited edition factor that fans are drawn towards. However, they don't half make the standard home and away shirts look like they're missing something. Brands are playing within the rules of Premier League, UEFA and FIFA regulations when it comes to how shirts must be designed – there's size restrictions for crest, sponsor, numbers etc – but the canvas is fair game and the demand has never been higher for the brushes of crazy to create.

Yes, we'd love to see the governing bodies relax their rules to allow brands to completely re-design the concept of a football shirt. Did we like the Spurs x NFL jersey with the club crest on the shoulder? Yes. Did we like the adidas Originals x Russia retro mash-up shirt? Yes. But these will have to satisfy those fans who want to show their colours but not through a typical replica display. There's something desirable about the different in any fashion market, and football replica is no different.


If any more proof was needed that eccentric designs are overtaking the minimal trend, then the emergence of custom mash-ups confirm that. Numerous creative agencies are challenging the rules of replica by shaking the shackles off and starting from scratch. Yes, some of them don't quite hit the mark, but collectively it's a movement led by the mash-up shirts that's gathering serious pace. Let's see if any brands take hold of it and run.


Roll on the 2019/20 kits. It's nice to be surprised isn't it? Let's see who's brave enough...