Even before last year’s 13-kit rollout, Napoli have long had perhaps the deepest arsenal of jerseys year in and year out. We explore the club’s ambitious jersey drops and examine if the trend could catch on amongst other teams across the world.
After 33 years of waiting, Napoli claimed their third Serie A title this season with five games to spare. A 52nd-minute equalizer from striker Victor Oshimen secured a 1-1 draw away at Udinese, and with it, an elusive scudetto that hasn’t been on Neapolitan grounds since the days of Diego Maradona.
The result sparked iconic celebrations in Naples, as the fans partied to a level that Maradona himself would be proud of. A sea of light blue swamped the coastal city as supporters took to the streets in their club colors. The various kits that Napoli released over the last couple of seasons covered the city center.
This year alone, the Italian Champions have released nine kits, more than any other European club. However, that number pales in comparison to the record 13 released last year, four of which were special edition shirts in memory of the late Maradona.
For the 2022-23 season, Napoli released a standard home, away, and alternate strip in addition to continuing their European alternate kits — which are slightly modified versions of their standard trio — and special edition shirts for Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.
The Halloween shirt includes the classic sky blue, with a swarm of bats making its way up the torso. It made one appearance in a Serie A victory over Torino.
The Valentine’s Day shirt is white, complete with a sizable lipstick imprinted on the front. Worn in a Coppa Italia defeat against Cremonese, this saw Napoli kiss goodbye their hopes of a domestic double.
The Christmas edition includes a giant Rudolph on the torso of a classic blue strip with red trim. Although the kit was made available for purchase, it wasn’t worn during a competitive match, but rather in a friendly during the winter World Cup break.
Releasing altered kits for European competition isn’t something new for Napoli.
They first produced special editions for the 2013-14 Champions League and have done so every season since. Kit manufacturer Macron started the tradition, with Kappa and now Giorgio Armani’s EA7 continuing and expanding on the tradition.
The jerseys have always been subtly different, with this season’s main changes being the removal of the MSC sponsor and slight adjustments to patterns and colors.
The club didn’t go as far with the changes to their European strips compared to last season. The 2021-22 version included a gold trim on the sleeves and the logos, which came across as a bit ostentatious, especially considering they weren’t defending champions.
Napoli aren’t the only club to have done this, as giants PSG and Borussia Dortmund have made slight adjustments to their European shirts in the past, in addition to Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt, who played in the Europa League this season in a jersey altered from their league strip.
However, Napoli is the only club to do this every season, making it quite a unique experiment.
The thirst for jersey culture has arguably never been greater, and the partnership between EA7 and Napoli epitomizes the crossover appeal, contributing to its ever-increasing popularity. But 22 kits in two years still feels like a step too far.
Admittedly, the Halloween and Valentine’s kits sold out from the Napoli store quickly, so the demand is there.
The kits worn by the team in the Champions League were not available for purchase until several months later. Fans had to wait five months to buy the away kit after Napoli wore it against Rangers in the group stage. Actions like this make the European additions seem even more unnecessary.
Unsurprisingly, Napoli’s kit culture hasn’t caught on amongst other Italian clubs. Even amongst the most prolific kit-releasing sides, the most we’ve seen is maybe one or two special edition kits in addition to the main three. No other Italian team that qualified for European play released special shirts for international play as well.
Two of the notable additional kit releases include one from AC Milan, who dropped a special fourth kit with manufacturer PUMA in collaboration with KOCHE for a limited release, in addition to Roma’s limited edition legacy kit from New Balance.
Despite the kit releases gradually increasing in Italy, it is unlikely that this strategy will catch on among the other clubs across Europe.
The typical culture amongst English teams is that even three kits in one season are too many. Brentford went even further by keeping the same kits they used last season, a move that resonated well with fans during times of economic struggle.
This trend is similar in Spain, as most clubs haven’t released more than four kits during a season. None of them have been special edition jerseys for European games.
Barcelona are the only contrast to this, as they did release two special edition home kits for the 2022-23 season. Shirt sponsor Spotify used the Blaugrana stripes as a billboard for new album releases from Drake and Rosalia.
Even though Napoli’s influx of jerseys may not set a trend across the rest of Europe, it is unlikely that they will slow down soon. EA7 has set a precedent, and club President Aurelio Di Laurentiis is on board.
After securing both the Serie A title and Champions League qualification, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Napoli release additional special edition kits down the road as well. Because apparently, you can never have too many kits in Napoli.