Newcastle’s incredible new Adidas uniforms, which I’ve seen, will completely outclass the Geordies.

Newcastle's incredible new Adidas uniforms, which I've seen, will completely outclass the Geordies.
Newcastle’s incredible new Adidas uniforms, which I’ve seen, will completely outclass the Geordies.

The new Adidas uniforms for Newcastle United will be introduced the following season. ChronicleLive spoke with Craig Buglass, a seasoned shirt designer who has seen the designs.


Imagine yourself among the select few on the globe who have seen the designs for Newcastle United’s upcoming Adidas uniforms, but you are unable to share any information about them with anyone due to non-disclosure agreements.

Torture, you say? Well, if you’re a lifelong supporter like Craig Buglass, it must be an especially painful secret to maintain.

Though the Geordie’s Spark agency are ‘friends of the Adidas family’ and have been ‘working with them, consulting on the kits’, the former Nike and Puma designer was never able to design a shirt for Newcastle. The next best thing could very well be this.

I’m fortunate enough to have a say in how the kits turn out, and I can assure you that the supporters will be blown away,” the 51-year-old stated to ChronicleLive.

“What we went through in the 1990s is going to be dwarfed tenfold by the job they have done with Arsenal and Manchester United. The ideas they have in store for the team will be incredible.

You only have got to look at what they have done since the announcement went out with the exhibitions they have created and the murals they have put up. There is going to be a lot of product.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if you look at the different silos within the Adidas business, it’s going to be a tremendous time. Sitting here, having seen the three kits, they are amazing.”

Newcastle and Adidas’ reunion may have only been formally announced back in September, but the work behind the scenes was going on long before then.

In fact, to show how much effort is involved in designing a shirt, Buglass even sketched concept strips for the Kit Breakdown last month.

This project involved up to 30 hours of desktop research, whether it was looking at previous Newcastle kits and why certain colours were won, as well as taking in a game at St James’ Park and visiting the Baltic, the Sage and the city’s iconic bridges among other locations.

Buglass even spoke to former players such as Lee Clark and Steve Watson, a host of supporters, members of Wor Flags, Smoove & Turrell and numerous others.

The kits Buglass ultimately produced include a home shirt with traditional black and white stripes, a centered crest and gold and blue detail; a fresh take on the club’s iconic burgundy and blue away kit from 1994-96 with a collar and Jacquard featuring images of the stadium tunnel, the city’s bridges and Wor Flags’ banners; and an eye-catching 1970s style green and yellow pinstripe number for the third strip complete with an Adidas trefoil down the arm. Clearly, a lot of thought went into the designs.

“If I had been employed by Adidas to do the football kits for Adidas, that would have been the exact process I would have taken albeit you’re only seeing an hour of what was essentially three or four days worth of filming,” he said.

“Without letting too many cats out of the bag, the idea was to sail close to what I thought Adidas would do, but it’s very much my interpretation and they had absolutely zero input into it.

Sketching like this, in one form or another, is what Buglass has done for decades. The Cramlington native left school with no qualifications, but was ‘always scribbling and designing’ and managed to land a spot on a photography, graphic design and fashion course.

Buglass went on to graduate from the Royal College of Art and started working for Stone Island and Sonia Rykiel before Puma offered him his first big break in sportswear in 1998.

Buglass soon found himself designing kits for Lazio and stood out in the field as someone who had expertise in both sport and fashion when, traditionally, it is one or the other.

Nike came calling little more than a year later and offered Buglass a job as team sports designer. “After that everything just went stratospheric,” he smiled

The philosophy at Nike at the time was that although the sportswear giants could not create history like Adidas and Puma, they could rewrite the history books. It was the birth of ‘massive colour’ and Brazil were soon lifting the World Cup in strips created by Buglass.

“There I was as the dyslexic Geordie boy who designed it,” he said. “From remedial classes to World Cup-winning kits – it was mental. I was in tears.”

Understandably so. It was the designer equivalent of scoring a goal in a World Cup final or getting your hands on the Jules Rimet trophy itself.

As much as that was a career highlight, though, Buglass has also designed shirts for England, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and, even, Sunderland, where the Newcastle fan ‘always tried to think of ways of making their training kit black and white’

Given some of the names involved, you can see why at Nike, for instance, there was training to ‘teach you how to manage those situations’ because it was ‘very easy’ to get star-struck.

Buglass, after all, found himself presenting kits to some of the biggest managers in the game at the time – from Louis van Gaal to Arsene Wenger.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Arsene Wenger,” he said. “He’s a wonderful man who’s given the sport so much.

“He was incredible and integral to me getting those kits to where they got to because his input was amazing. He was all about innovation so he very much supported a lot of the stuff that they did.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to [former Arsenal vice-chairman] David Dein, too, because we originally designed the away kit to be grey and he literally threw the thing at me and said, ‘We’re not a grey club.

There’s no way my team is wearing that. We’re a sunshine club.’ That was where the yellow kit came in.

“To then see those kits go invincible [Arsenal went a whole Premier League season unbeaten in them]…

I kind of hope it never happens again because, if it does, they will start talking about those kits potentially.

Now, any time someone even goes near it, all my kits come out of the cupboard and everybody starts talking about it again!”

As co-founder of the Spark Design Academy with business partner Rob Warner who in 2006 designed Italy’s World Cup-winning uniform for Puma Buglass is now sharing this experience with others.

The course has helped hundreds of students, and according to Buglass, it’s a ‘means to give back to an industry that’s been so fantastic for us’.

“I have to pinch myself sometimes because if I actually sat and thought about what I’ve done and what I’ve been able to do, it’s not a job,” he stated. “I just really appreciate what I’m doing, and it’s a hobby. It truly is a blessing for me to accomplish what I do.”

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