The classic style of the new uniforms New Balance designed for Liverpool Football Club is meant to be a throwback to the ‘80s.
And while for many Americans, the era’s fashion brings to mind bright colors, parachute pants, oversized shoulder pads, and big hair, New Balance hopes it reminds Reds fans of a dominant period for the UK team.
The designs weren’t simply new uniforms for a soccer team thousands of miles away from New Balance’s headquarters in Brighton. They are part of an expensive sponsorship deal New Balance hopes will help the company break into the $8 billion global market for soccer gear and apparel, a business dominated by two much larger competitors.
New Balance and the Liverpool club unveiled the jerseys at a press event at the team’s Anfield stadium on Friday.
The shirts, which Liverpool will wear during the 2015-2016 season, are classic red with a new checkerboard jacquard print. New Balance said the print was inspired by Liverpool fans who wave red-and-white flags and scarves during games, creating a mosaic effect in the stands. The shirt is tied to a New Balance advertising campaign, #HoldNothingBack, which New Balance said reflects the attitude of Liverpool fans.
“As we enter into a new era between New Balance and Liverpool Football Club, we want to celebrate the sacred bond between the club, the fans and the players,” said Richard Wright, general manager of New Balance football, in a statement. “We have worked closely with LFC throughout the design process and I believe the product team has captured this bond in the shirt textile design.”
The club’s principal owner, John Henry, also owns The Boston Globe.
New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. launched its push into the worldwide soccer market in February. So far, the company has signed on to sponsor a half-dozen teams worldwide and nine prominent players. The Liverpool deal is said to be the club’s highest paying sponsorship ever, widely reported to be worth more than $450 million.
Still, analysts said New Balance will compete for a distant third position in the soccer apparel and gear market behind Nike Inc. and Adidas AG. The two powerhouses control a combined 65 percent of the soccer market.
The Liverpool jersey will go on sale May 14 and is available for preorder on the team’s site. Adult sizes are priced at about $75 each.
New Balance is expected to release its first soccer shoe over the summer.