I want you to remember that this is not a polo shirt,” insists the Guardian’s Marina Hyde of tomorrow’s unveiling of England’s new official jersey. “It is nothing less than an attempt to restore hope to a nation via the medium of sportswear.” Couldn’t the same thing have been accomplished by Burberry going bankrupt?
I confess to having developed something of a horrified fascination with the official campaign leading up to this momentous launch. Whether you believe replica England shirts to be a tax on stupidity is irrelevant. Even by the standards of preposterous hype, this one redraws the blueprint.
One can only assume it is a deliberate and frankly biting satire on the whole business of England, and all the vainglorious pretentiousness that has characterised the set-up in recent years. This thing is the veritable Emperor’s New Strip. It may look like a polo shirt to you and me, but it is the very essence of tragi-comic self-regard.
Unconvinced? Then do proceed directly with me to one of the lengthy interviews with the senior designer David Blanch.
“The detail is in the minutiae,” he declares, “even down to the spacing on the ventilation holes. The configuration of the holes is actually taken from the position of some of the roses on the three lions crest. It’s a bit of a Da Vinci Code, a ‘rose code’ if you like.”
Jesus wept… Just when you think you understand performance synthetics, you realise that some amazing twist has derailed your assumptions about the meaning of Aertex or whatever.
Asked if there is any detail of which he is particularly proud, David declines to cite a state-of-the-art booing deflector shield, and instead mentions “the care label”. The care label! Clearly, we are invited to read this garment as though it were the last act of The Tempest, as opposed to something Ashley Cole is going to sweat in.