It’s that stage of the season – albeit slightly delayed because of Covid – where Aston Villa kit design concepts flood social media channels. Most are knocked up by young budding designers who want to showcase their talent. After that, like much on social media, there isn’t much point to them, beyond proposing or guessing the design of the forthcoming Villa shirt for a bit of fun and ‘likes’.
If a shirt maker is unpopular at the time or if the social media designer doesn’t realise Villa have a long-term contract with a supplier, then these mock designs tend to run with wishful thinking sporting brands.
The 2020/21 season will mark the second year of Villa’s three-year deal with Kappa, and there’s a lot at stake for the sports company. The third year of the contract is believed to be open to review, after quality issues in the first year.
The new Villa kit normally drops June/July in the year, but what many supporters don’t realise is the long lead time in the design process.
The design for the 2020/21 Villa kit was actually signed off THIS TIME LAST YEAR. So by the time the 2019/20 Villa kit first went on sale to the public in July 2019, the following season’s design was already sorted.
It’s a bizarre concept to think the brand spanking new shirt you’ve just bought is actually a year old in terms of its design. It makes sense though. when you consider the amount of football teams around the world who all need kits supplying. It’s no wonder the manufacturing process (which begins in January) has to be planned so far in advance to fulfil available production slots in overseas factories.
The Journey of the 2020/21 Villa Kit
Demand and Supply Issues
As the above diagram shows, the club makes its initial order of shirts in October, based on the sales data of just a few months after the release of the previous one in July. If demand grows due to the team’s success, especially at the end of the season, then it is too late and risky to have further major production runs (as perhaps was the case with the 2018/19 Luke shirt). With the release of the following season’s shirt mere months away, the club doesn’t want to be left with unsold stock on their hands.
Due to Villa’s promotion back to the Premier League last season, sales swelled for the 2019/20 shirt, so that would have been taken into mind back in October 2019, when the club were considering the volume of 2020/21 shirts they wanted to order.
Of course, while relegation in Villa’s first season back in the Premier League was a possibility, preferring to be optimistic, it’s perhaps a scenario that wasn’t factored in too much.
Getting such an order right so far in advance is obviously a tricky process and recent events have demonstrated that to the extreme.
After the high of promotion, suddenly the worse case scenario for Villa, in a couple of month’s time, is the team could be in the Championship playing games behind closed doors (many fans buy shirts to go to games in). There was no way the club could have factored in the global pandemic.
Awkward 2020/21 Release
With the Premier League insistent on completing the 2019/20 season mainly due to the TV and commercial contracts that clubs will want to fulfil, the pandemic has indeed further complicated the roll out of next season’s shirt.
One temptation would have been to keep to the calendar schedule of release and launch the new shirt for the final 10 games Villa have to play from June 17 to the 1st August, virus permitting.
At the start of the lockdown Kappa had indicated to MOMS that while it was a wait-and-see scenario, the wish had been to keep the shirts to their respective seasons. That said, considering the circumstances and based on what other clubs have done in the past, there maybe a temptation to release the new home shirt on the last home game of the season (or home and away shirts over the last two games).
If Villa had secured their Premier League status by then, it certainly would be a good bit of early feel good marketing before the public release.