In the modern age, it could perhaps be said that there are three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and football teams releasing a new line of kits to greet the new league season.
Of course these days, kits are just as much fashion statements as they are pieces of sporting apparel, hence why a number of A-League clubs exclusively revealed their newest strips in an otherwise streetwear ensemble in the lead up to the 2023-24 season.
But with the actual football now here, with the A-League Women starting its latest campaign with a record-setting opening round last weekend and the A-League Men commencing on Friday, ESPN's Joey Lynch has cast his eye over what he sees as the standouts and the not-so-standout offerings this season.
The top five A-League kits
This season might be the last campaign that the Canberra United brand is a part of the A-Leagues, depending upon the results of the competition's expansion efforts; but, if it is, they're going out with one of the best kits the A-League has seen for quite a while. Featuring a two-tone base of dark green that harkens to their celebrated history, the First Nations detailing, white sleeves that flow through a V across the chest, and the Pride detailing on the right arm to make a kit that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also speaks to the culture and identity of the club and its fan base. You can't ask for much more than that.
Pink kits in general are a winner, with the bangers that Palermo have put out over the years as a case in point. Combine that with a shade of pink that was designed specifically with the Epacris Impressa -- the State flower of Victoria -- in mind, once again harkening to something beyond just looks when it comes to designing kits, and Victory have found themselves a winner for the 2023-24 campaign. Being all the more specific, the women's team has, thanks to the navy-blue shorts that they will don in their games -- part of the league's shift in regulations surrounding short colours for female teams -- shaded the all-pink look of the men.
Black-and-white stripes tend to make a good kit; there's a reason Juventus took a gander at Notts County all the way back in 1903 and decided that they were onto something. The Bulls' colour scheme of black, white, and gold ochre -- which the club says it to highlight the Dharawal heritage of the region -- has consistently produced appealing playing strips, and this year's effort, with its black sleeves and golden detailing, is another one to add to the win pile.
You know why the Yankees always win? No, it's not because they have Mickey Mantle, but because the other teams can't stop staring at those damn pinstripes. Featuring orange pinstripes on a white base, with orange piping details around the collar and sleeves, the Roar strip is clean, crisp, and all-around an outstanding effort. Whereas the camouflage-like pattern on the home strip is something that probably won't age well, these strips carry with them a bit of a timeless, classy vibe that means that they should stand the test of time.
Macron has been looking after the Glory in recent years, and the home kits they've served up in 2023-24 are another winner. The purple-and-orange colour scheme of the Glory gives the designers something to play around with; while pushing the boat out doesn't always work, the diagonal orange pattern across the base purple layer of the home kits hits just the right tone.
The bottom five A-League kits
The thinking behind Adelaide's home strip for 2023-24 is sound: A throwback strip designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the club. But the problem with this is, well, it looks like a kit that was designed two decades ago, the blue slashes at the arm joint harkening back to the generic-looking Reebok kits of the A-Leagues' birth. The away kit, once again a clean-looking white offering with dark blue detailing across the collar and sleeves, is a much stronger offering.
Whereas the Roar's away kits for the season are a bit of an all-timer, the home kits are not. Start with a base layer of orange and add the black detailing on the sleeves and so far things are going well. Then, however, comes various shades of orange and black in a camouflage pattern. In truth, the kit will probably become something of a collector's item in future seasons because the boat has been pushed out and something different attempted. Fair enough. But compared with the away kit, it doesn't hit the mark.
Before anything else, it bears acknowledging that Western's away kits feature, very faintly, the names of more than 1,000 suburbs from across Victoria's West. As a team trying to establish itself in the hearts and minds of the region, that's a pretty cool concept. The green detailing on the back of the neck and the sleeves is nice, as well. However, the static-looking green and black stripes going down the right side of the front of the shirt anchors the product as a whole, disrupting the clean feel of the jersey without fully committing to the concept like the club has done in the past.
The Jets' home kit is fine. Featuring the iconic gold base layer with navy blue detailing, piping down the side, and shorts, it's instantly recognisable as a Jets kit. But it's not particularly clean compared with some of the other more simple offerings around the league, and it's clearly not trying to do anything noteworthy -- the pattern on the bottom of the away strips is much better effort -- so it doesn't really quicken the pulse.
There's a reason you don't see very many whitish, greyish, silvery-looking kits going around. They're incredibly hard to pull off. And the Bulls' away efforts this season don't quite walk the tightrope needed to make them sing. Featuring a base layer of white with grey elements that also feature on the home strip -- but without the black-and-white stripes to bail it out -- and a golden ochre trim, the kits are a step down from the darker offering from the last season.