Chelsea, along with their sponsors Adidas, are urging supporters around the world to pre-order their 2013-14 replica kits before any images have been released. The slogan for this campaign is "It's blue, what else matters?"
Whilst that sentiment is admirable, there are actually a few other things that matter when purchasing a replica kit.
Magical thinking is an important aspect to being a football supporter. Your choice of shirt, along with your socks/underpants/pregame routine are critical to your team's success on the pitch. I single-handedly got Chelsea to the Champions League final in 2012 by watching the second half of the semifinal at Camp Nou from outside the pub, wearing my 2001 replica shirt with "Zola 25" on the back.
It's not just the fans who believe in the power of the kit. Sir Alex Ferguson made the Manchester United team change their shirts at halftime against Southampton in 1996. The Red Devils were 3-0 down, and Sir Alex believed that their grey kit was affecting his players' ability to see each other. They lost 3-1 and never wore that strip again.
The gold detail on the Blues' 2012-13 kit turned out to be a stroke of genius, but it would have looked a bit silly if Bayern Munich had triumphed on May 19, 2012. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the less marketable replica kits from Chelsea's history.
The saying "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" applies universally to people judging fashion from the 1990s. Everybody made some bad choices back then, but this monstrosity of patterned panels should be judged among the worst. It's three shades of grey with orange highlights. There is nothing good there.
The 1980s were bad times at Chelsea FC. Stamford Bridge was under threat from property developers and the team were underperforming on the pitch. To compound the misery of playing in the Second Division in 1988, they wore this shirt.
The ribbed collar trim compliments the tea towel pattern beautifully, and the red lion doesn't look at all out of place. It is quite likely that this design was part of a cost-cutting exercise, which is just another reason to be thankful for Roman Abramovich's billions.
When watching Chelsea was just like watching Brazil—if you ignored the quality of the football on offer. Chelsea were in decline when this change strip was rolled out and if they were hoping that it would help them emulate the national side that made the game beautiful, they would have been sorely disappointed.
One of the best aspects of modern kit design is the sports psychology behind it. This shirt was supposed to suggest strength by accentuating the shoulders and abs, intimidating opponents in the process. It did look like armour, and Chelsea won the Premier League, but the whole principle is just not football.
Otherwise known as the period that Chelsea had a kit share deal with the Czech Republic national team. This red and white tapestry of bad taste has no relevance to the club at all, and should never be seen again.
There are places where high-visibility clothing is necessary, but a football pitch is not one of them. Whilst the players would not have any excuses for failing to pick out their teammates, fans spent the whole season wondering why stewards up and down the country were celebrating when Chelsea scored.