Here at Club 25, we’re big fans of Italian sportswear manufacturers Erreà and always happy to provide coverage of the latest football shirts to hit the market. Add our adoration for English football to the mix, and it is no surprise that one of Erreà’s current partner teams, MK Dons, is having its home top feature on the site today.
2017/2018 is Milton Keynes Dons’ 14th season under its current name, having adopted the monniker ahead of the 2004/2005 campaign, shedding its old name and colours (Wimbledon FC, although the Dons nom de guerre was officialized, and navy and yellow).
The fresh start this afforded the club allowed for the establishing of a strong, hereditary visual identity; white was chosen as a main colour, with a palette of red, black, and gold available as accents for kit suppliers to work with. Throughout the next decade and a half, the 7 different apparel brands MK Dons contracted went ham with this set of colours; initial partner A-Line opted for gold and black, Nike provided a single flash of black, and ISC was the first to include both black and red.
Homegrown brands Surridge, Vandanel, and Sondico were also partnered with the club, but for no more than two seasons, where Erreà is currently in its third year of contract with the Dons.
We’ve covered many zany multi-coloured tops (Erreà produced one of the crazier ones), but there’s a lot going for a simple and clean white top. For 17/18, the Italians opted to do away with black altogether, leaving red as the dominant accent (helped in no small part by main sponsor Suzuki’s logo, the red stylized ‘S’).
Embroidered we find Erreà’s double squares and wordmark on the right chest, with MK Dons’ crest on the left. It is with great shame that we say this, but we actually never noticed the fact that the gold shield can be interpreted as an ‘M’ set upon a ‘K’, catching the town’s initials in a simple, stylish manner. While ordering new prescription contact lenses, we can say that MMIV, of course, denotes the year of founding of the club.
A very simple style of collar is used, running red around the full circumference of the neck, with a small foldover sans the usual buttons you’d expect for this type.
Inside the collar we find a stickered rendition of the crest, along with a goodie that used to feature on the front of the shirts some years ago; devised by the club and then-partner Sondico, the club’s colours were represented by a small bar on the right chest during the 2014/2015 season (Erreà came in for the 15/16 campaign, and kept the bar, moving it to the back of the shirt for 16/17, where it remains on this top).
Although no doubt entirely coincidental, this very much reminds us of the logo used by the old Honda Formula 1 team during its tenure with British American Tobacco (and its flagship product Lucky Strike Cigarettes) as seen here.
Disregarding these small touches, the real joy in this shirt can be found in the unique mesh garment used for the side and armpit panels, running from the bottom hem of the shirt (as seen here) all the way to the sleeve cuffs.
The fact that this is not unique to just the Dons’ shirt is illustrated here by having the 17/18 home shirt overlaying Norwich City’s 2016/2017 home top, which features the exact same mesh in the exact same configuration, albeit in a different colour.
This mesh leads to mixed thoughts (on both shirts) seeing as it is entirely superfluous; the mesh is applied over the white/yellow polyester base, which begs the question; what functional purpose does this have for the athletes wearing these shirts? There doesn’t seem to be any temperature-regulating, sweat-whisking, or moisture-vaporizing function to the mesh, which implies it has been added to the shirt design purely out of aesthetic concerns rather than performative necessity (as the added cloth weighs the shirt down ever so slightly), which is interesting considering Erreà doesn’t sell replica shirts; the tops you find in your club shop are the exact same as those worn by the players (true of the other Erreà shirts on the site).
This, then, is a debate that remains severely underscrutinized amongst the fraternity of football shirt enthusiasts; does form come before function, and if it does, to which degree should it be allowed?
Leaving aside that conversation for a different time, Erreà’s mesh (the closest I can come to describing it is the netting citrus fruits are sold in over at Club 25’s HQ) is incredibly effective in appealing to the visual senses; enough light is let through to have the base colour show up, which makes for a very layered, textured appearance, unlike anything else we’ve seen on the site and in our collecting adventures. Even if it isn’t ideal on the pitch, top marks from us!
Having previously referenced the Dons’ colours set in a bar, we find it embroidered on the back, making for a tasteful and understated detail evoking pride in one’s colours. It also makes for the only detail on the back, besides the sidepanel mesh that comes through on the back as far as it does on the front.
If there is any criticism to be levied at the shirt, it would concern the contrast where the sleeve cuff and and armpit mesh meet; both are the exact same tone, but with the latter diluted by the white base layer showing through, the former appears much darker. Due to the nature of the mesh, however, this couldn’t have been done differently.
Pictured above is the first and, so far, only time we’ve seen a footy kit being launched alongside a bunch of crotch rockets. Great synergy with the club’s main sponsor, though.
As is traditional in Milton Keynes, the Dons have opted for matching templates across the entire wardrobe this season, with red/white as away kit and black/red as third, both of which are standard colours for the alternative strips throughout the years. As with the motorbikes, these press pics are nicely tied to Suzuki, although showing up in your jeans to a kit launch is a bit of a naff thing to do.
All in all though, a tidy shirt with a love-it-or-hate-it mesh for a club with a kit hamper that might not be the deepest one out there, considering how short of a history the Dons have, but is still rich with interesting shirts that have all had the benefit of being designed with a clear palette and philosophy in mind. Eager to discover the lot of them for yourself? Give our friends at oldfootballshirts and Historical Kits a visit!
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