So when I was out at the Real Salt Lake team store a little over a week ago and I saw in the hard copy of the 2010 MLS Catalog by Adidas the RSL line for 2010 I was impressed with what I saw. Not everything was great but some unique (or what I thought was unique) designs, and I was looking forward to seeing how it would sell this year.
Then I got home and a couple days later I found a link to the online version of the entire catalog and my opinion changed quickly as I realized that some of the most unique pieces, the scarf and hoodie, were in fact the least original and unique pieces that would be offered. I then posted the image of all the 2010 MLS official scarves by Adidas, so anyone who cared could realize that in fact Adidas and whoever approved the designs had in fact taken a very easy way out. It started in 2009 when every team had a version of the split logo scarf, which I believed was simply because of the demand after that was debuted by a couple teams in 2008. I now believe that was the start of Adidas simply pasting a different logo and changing colors and considering their job as a league partner, one of the most important league partners as the official merchandiser of MLS, I have become a critic of that mentality.
So here is a link to what I saw in the team store a couple weeks back, just the RSL merchandise being offered by Adidas. If you were to see just that you might as I was be impressed.
After the jump the link to the full catalog of MLS gear for 2010 from Adidas and the image that changed my opinion of the "partnership" between the MLS and Adidas.
So as I posted last week here is the link to the full catalog
(http://tools.adidas-team.com/Soccer/Q110_MLS_Final_LR.pdf) It is a big file and takes a bit of time to download but for me when being able to see how everything is cookie cutter was and still is a bit disturbing.
Now am I being to critical? I have been accused both publicly and privately of making too big of a deal out of this, and perhaps people are right. Go take a look at the NBA's merchandise, the NLF's, MLB's and almost all of it is based off templates and often it looks the same. For me the difference is simple, in those sports logos are large and very visible, while in soccer the logos are often very small and from a distance hard to see. So for me it is the basics of team colors that are the great difference between MLS sides, as they are in all sports but with such small logos the color makes all the difference. To me it simply looks like Adidas took an easy path as far as design goes, maybe I am expecting too much.
Maybe, but as long as their is a strangle hold on who can produce what for MLS teams and what MLS team stores can carry, the choices for fans are limited. I know that the MLS has a long way to go before it will be able to match merchandise sales of big European teams, but I will point to another Adidas team that plays in the EPL. Take a look at the variety and depth of products offered not only from Adidas but across multiple categories in the Liverpool online catalog, perhaps it is a selection like this that skews my opinions or perhaps when even small clubs like Stoke City can offer a large amount of variety in their online store and then I look at what MLS clubs have in their online stores that I think of the potential dollars that are not being spent. Americans spend money on sports and sports merchandise unlike any other nation, so is money that could fuel teams being left in the pockets of fans? Maybe.
OFF MY SOAPBOX