Edizione Speziale: Italy’s Special Edition Shirts 2020/21

Special edition shirts have become common place in football. No longer reserved for significant achievements or historic milestones, clubs are becoming increasingly creative in their justification for releasing a third, fourth or even fifth shirt. Cynics are quick to denounce these as thinly veiled revenue-raisers, preying on supporters and collectors who find it hard to say “no”. But it’s not always about hard-nosed profiteering, with charities the ultimate beneficiaries in some instances. In this article we take a look at the special edition shirts released in Italy during the 2020/21 season and the motives behind them.

Big (and not so big) Birthdays…

Empoli stake the claim for the most legitimate deployment of a special edition shirt, with 2020 marking their centenary year. They released a vintage style amaranto jersey in homage to the club’s original colours. The shirt featured a lace-up collar and retro club crest on a design that was mercifully free from the clutter of sponsors. It was first worn against rivals Pisa in October and subsequently against Vicenza and Reggiana. It was complemented by an all black goalkeeper’s shirt in the same style. Price €85 – available here.

Remaining on the right side of legitimacy, Palermo similarly released a vintage style, lace-up jersey to mark their 120th anniversary. The powder blue and white halves were a tribute to the club’s original colours, with the more familiar pink and black visible on the collar and cuffs. It was used once in their Serie C game against Bari; the gold font on the rear was a nice touch, though the addition of golden sponsors on the front rather detracted from the vintage effect. The shirt was initially produced in a quantity of 300, but sold out instantly prompting the club to produce a second, larger batch. Price €79 – available here.

Stretching the anniversary concept a little further, Sampdoria released a jersey to mark the 120th anniversary of Andrea Doria; the club that merged with Sampierdarenese to form modern-day Sampdoria. The shirt was produced in the style of the original Andrea Doria jersey; navy blue and white halves with the Saint Ambrose shield in the centre of the shirt, complete with faux laces. Only 1,000 were produced and it was worn in the game against Milan in December. As with the Palermo shirt, when it was worn by the first team it was adorned with gold font and sponsors. Price €80 – available here for £63 using the code “CALCIO10” (worldwide shipping).

From here, things get decidedly sketchy. Lecce deemed it necessary to produce a special edition shirt to mark their 113th anniversary. The club have some form for this having produced a 111-year celebratory kit in 2019. The current season design, produced by their in-house brand M908, was based on the shirt worn by the team in 1978-80 (a puzzling choice given their relative mediocrity during this time) and features a retro club crest. The shirt was worn once competitively against Chievo in March 2021. Price €70 – available here.

Alessandria’s decision to release a special 109-year anniversary kit incurred the wrath of supporters, who felt the club would have been better off focusing on their promotion push. It was a pale blue number (vaguely reminiscent of the England 2016 shirt), made from recycled ocean waste. The stripped-down badge featured a red cross taken from the city’s coat of arms. The launch was curiously light on official imagery; it was worn only once against Carrarese in March and has not been made commercially available. We look forward to next year’s 110-year anniversary shirt…

It’s Chriiiistmaaaas…

Each year for the past decade, Atalanta have produced a special edition Christmas jersey. The shirts are not made commercially available, but the first team’s jerseys are auctioned off for charity after they’ve been worn. It has to be said that this year’s design was something of a let-down compared to previous efforts. The 2020 shirt saw a plain grey shirt with the outline of a Christmas tree around the badge and match-specific insignia for the Roma game on the sleeve. For the first time in five years the Bergamo city skyline was dropped from the design.

Serie B Cremonese follow a similar track to Atatlanta with an annual festive endeavour in aid of charity. After 2019’s spectacular Christmas jumper-themed shirt, expectations were high for 2020. However, in their first year with manufacturer Acerbis, the Grigiorossi dialled things down considerably with a relatively plain lilac and white shirt (evoking the club’s original colours). The shirt featured a match insignia (v Pordenone) on the chest and the message Buon Natale on the nape of the neck.

In the name of fashion…

Adidas teamed up with Pharrell Williams and his Humanrace company to produce special edition jerseys for Juventus, Arsenal, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The Juventus version was a childish watercolour interpretation of Juventus’ pink 2015/16 shirt, featuring the Humanrace name on the tail of the shirt. It was the very epitome of a ‘Marmite’ design; you either love it or hate it. It was worn by the team in their October 2020 Serie A match against Verona. Priced at €90, the shirt sold out rapidly.

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Serie B Vicenza are owned by Renzo Rosso, the man behind fashion house Diesel. They caused quite a stir back in the autumn with the release of a daring third shirt featuring an array of irregular vertical and horizontal blocks. The promotional material dubbed it the “icon” shirt, but offered very little information about how or when it was going to be used (particularly given its similarity to the home shirt). Nine months on, and the shirt has neither been worn by the first team nor made commercially available. We contacted Vicenza to try and find out more but to no avail. Part icon, part enigma.

The curious one…

In November 2020, Torino announced that they would take to the field against Sampdoria in a special jersey celebrating the success of their main sponsor, Suzuki. The Japanese company had just won the Moto GP World Championship with Spanish rider Joan Mir. The shirt featured the Suzuki logo in silver, surrounded by laurels and the inscription “Moto GP Champion”. The cuffs were adorned with blue and white to mirror the colour of the Ecstar racing team. The last remaining jerseys are available here for €56.

The poignant one…

Napoli are a club who have form for producing multiple and unnecessary versions of shirts. The 2019/20 seasons saw the standard home, away and third trio complemented by a European home version (subtlety differentiated from the domestic version) and a fourth shirt (and accompanying merchandising range) themed around the districts of Naples. So it was no surprise that they planned to release a fourth shirt mid-way through the current season. They produced an Argentina-themed jersey in tribute to Diego Maradona…it was just happenstance that El Diego sadly passed away just days before Napoli were due to debut it against Roma in November. Naturally, sales were off the scale, forcing Napoli to produce a second batch of the shirts to meet demand. Price €99 – available here for £72 using the code “CALCIO10” (worldwide shipping).

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, why not browse our 2020/21 review of Serie B and Serie C shirts.

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