adidas designer Inigo Turner sits for an interview next to a United home shirt and red, white and black flag featuring a red rose

How Manchester's heritage inspired our new kit

Tuesday 04 July 2023 10:00

Key figures from the adidas team who created Manchester United's 2023/24 home kit have explained the historical inspiration behind the striking design.

The new shirt, available on United Direct, features a geometric pattern based on the iconic red rose that adorns the bridge between Manchester and Salford, built during the Industrial Revolution.

The bridge over the River Irwell is an enduring symbol of the deep connection Mancunians have with the city’s industrial legacy. It's a mark of Manchester’s strength and how it has influenced the wider world from that 18th-century period onwards.

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Inigo Turner, design director for adidas football apparel and a United fan since childhood, revealed that the creative process for the new kit, as with previous kits, began with a "cultural immersion" in Manchester.

"We travel to Manchester and we do an inspiration trip," he said. "We look to immerse ourselves in the city.

"This bridge connects Manchester to Salford and the River Irwell runs underneath it. From a historical standpoint, this is important to Manchester. The city’s coat of arms has the three rivers on it, and the bridge was designed during the Industrial Revolution.

"These are things which are culturally important to the city. And the rose appears on that bridge and binds it together – it's the bolts of the bridge."

James Webb, senior graphic designer at adidas, said: "We wanted to take Manchester to the rest of the world.

"Generally we start [the design process] two years in advance and it's all about the cultural insights from walking through the city, which are at the heart of the jersey and the design inspiration."

Christiaan Barnard, from adidas’ product marketing team, added: "We wanted to communicate what it is to be a Manchester United fan from Manchester: understanding both the club's identity and the city's identity and really transporting that globally.

"Sometimes these nitty-gritty, small stories, that make Manchester what it is and make United what it is, don't get told properly.

"We wanted to take the city’s culture, the club's culture and its DNA to the world. So that's our seasonal direction for the home, away and ultimately the third shirt."

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The two designers also discussed the technology that went into developing a kit that is again made from 100 per cent recycled materials, and that Turner declared will be "the best on the market".

The on-field version of the shirt is constructed with HEAT.RDY, a breathable fabric technology that absorbs moisture and dries quickly.

Turner said: "With the new kits, we always focus on performance and on technology, to make sure that what the players are wearing is the most cutting-edge design out there.

Webb added: "We wanted to highlight the performance elements of the ergonomic fit, the shape of the jersey and the benefits for the players."

Turner has been responsible for many of United’s adidas kit launches and, as a lifelong Red, understands what it means to our fans.

"As a kid, I was massively hooked on the red shirts with the white stripes on the shoulders," he recalled. "That basically led me to what I do today.

"There's a weight of expectation to do that jersey and it's such an important piece to me personally and to millions of people around the world.

"It's a huge responsibility but hopefully the shirt will take United to great success in the new season."

You'll be able to see the Reds wearing the new strip on the field for the first time on Wednesday 12 July, when Erik ten Hag's side take on Leeds United in a pre-season friendly in Oslo, Norway.