The idea of hundreds and thousands of people paying attention to 22 players from two opposing teams kicking one ball in a field may not be all that interesting to those who do not understand football. But there is a lot to be admired about the sport that has the power to bring individuals from all walks of life together. One element includes the kit that visually represents a club.
Designing the attire can be a gruelling task. Commonly, designers look back to the origins of the club as a starting point, and the easiest aspect to draw inspiration from is the state flag. For Sabah FC, their latest 1963 Kit is a clear homage to the Land Below the Wind.
The much-anticipated jersey was conceived through a collaboration with local streetwear brand Pestle & Mortar Clothing and Lotto. Farish Aziz, Sabah FC head of marketing and media, had approached PMC in their effort to come up with an updated kit for the club.
“I slid into PMC’s DM (direct message) on Instagram in December 2020. After a few days, we held a meeting straightaway to discuss the project. We are proud to partner a brand that shares our vision for excellence and innovation. This kit not only showcases our love for football but also our deep-rooted pride in our state and country.”
Sabah FC also received support from Lotto, which saw this joint effort as a way to enhance the football experience for everyone involved, from the players to the supporters. “We want to elevate the game experience for all fans across Malaysia by not just concentrating on player performance, but also the lifestyle aspect of the sport. We hope that this kit will not only be worn by professionals on the pitch, but also by fans off the field,” says Amirul Syafiq Azidin, head of business development and strategy of Prestige Sports, Malaysia’s sole distributor for Lotto.
“This is the first time we have collaborated with a Malaysian streetwear brand, developing a new synergy between performance and lifestyle that transcends the world of football. I think we have set a good benchmark for football teams in our country to venture into partnerships like this in the future.”
Blending modern aesthetics with historical elements, the 1963 Kit — the year North Borneo achieved its independence — breaks away from traditional styles for football jerseys, which often have a plain design with the team logo stitched on the upper left side of the shirt, and stands out with its uniquely embossed illustrations.
Proudly carrying the tagline “Pride of Borneo”, the kit draws inspiration from emblems iconic to Sabah such as Mount Kinabalu, the coat of arms of Sabah and the North Borneo Railway logo. “We incorporate cultural elements such as traditional headgear and historical landmarks like the railway station. The shirt is basically everything you need to know on the surface about Sabah,” says Jack Gan, PMC head of brand and lead creative.
Design-wise, Sabah FC and PMC worked closely together to achieve the desired outcome. “The idea for the 1963 Kit came about because Sabah FC wanted to highlight their historic moments. As a football organisation, they want to take this opportunity to not just put the spotlight on the team, but also their culture and heritage,” Gan explains.
As the intention was to incorporate elements surrounding North Borneo independence, the partners had agreed on a distinctive pistachio green. The colour can be traced back to Sabah’s first post-independence flag in 1963, featuring four stripes of red, white, yellow and blue, with a green canton and a brown mountain that portrays Mount Kinabalu.
“It’s not exactly the same green, but we were contemplating between olive, forest and other options. Deciding on pistachio was very intentional, as olive and forest have already been used by so many clubs out there. When the sample came out, everyone liked it.”
The colour selection also took into account the condition of the shirt when exposed to dampness. “It’s going to be darker when it is worn by players, who will surely perspire on the field. These are the kinds of things we considered when designing the shirt.”
Well-designed activewear should feel like second skin, which means they must be lightweight and breathable to ensure maximum comfort during a 90-minute match. The 1963 Kit is made using microfibre, a popular material chosen for its ability to wick moisture away from the body to keep the wearer cool and dry.
Since the collaboration was first announced last month, football fans looking for unique partnerships such as this in the local scene have given all parties involved positive feedback about the design and material used.
Alongside the 1963 Kit, PMC has also introduced a lifestyle range of clothes and accessories, including two T-shirts in black and white, a black cap and exclusive collector’s pieces consisting of a limited edition varsity jacket and a scarf. This collection is indeed a celebration of the new era of sportsmanship that recognises different aspects of the game, including performance, lifestyle and fashion.
This article first appeared on Aug 7, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.