Sep 06, 2022
Last week we announced to the world one of our most symbolic partnerships to date, teaming up with Adidas Football to produce the official Ajax 2022/2023 Third Kit, paying a tribute to Amsterdam's unique street football culture and its golden generation.
The golden jerseys hit the shelves on Wednesday 24th August and to celebrate, we created a launch experience that same day at our Amsterdam Flagship store on Bilderdijkstraat. The free event showcased the Ajax Third Kid in full and gave attendees the chance to purchase garments on the day it dropped and also gain deeper insight into the background of the collaboration.
The store displayed the golden jersey which features smoky black watermarks inspired by Amsterdam’s most prominent street football courts and also the black shorts with white details, and golden socks with horizontal red and black bar with white adidas logo, all of available to cop at the launch event.
We caught up with former Daily Paper designer and now Seven Layer Creative Director Mike Meikleham, who travelled from Manchester to celebrate with us, on his insights from the launch day and the release.
What's your favourite thing about this collaboration?
As a designer, it’s the storytelling. Being able to dive into the archive of not only an iconic club like Ajax, but also the rich heritage of Daily Paper. Using product as vessels of information to communicate a narrative that is enticing for an entire capital city is so empowering. There will be many young Ajax fans who are unaware about their ‘Golden Generation’ and the 1995 Champions League, so to be able to educate them on that through garment design is extremely rewarding.
How did the offline activation communicate the concept?
I flew out to Amsterdam and saw the installations in Daily Paper’s Flagship store. Daily Paper had 9 boards on the wall, each one introducing the concrete court that was on the jersey and explaining what it represented for street football, Ajax, and themselves. The most refreshing thing was that so many fans stood there and read each board, instead of going straight to the kit. As they made their way to the back of the store, there was an assorted collection of old school televisions all playing archive video footage of street football. A very nice offline transition from the concept that was communicated digitally earlier on in the day.
How did you find the general public's reaction?
Overwhelming to be honest. I struggled sleeping after taking it all in. What I found interesting is that in most major footballing European cities there are always 2+ teams. London, Madrid, Milan, Manchester, Rome, Glasgow etc. But in Amsterdam, there is only one. So, when the kit was released there were very few negative comments from opposing fans, just pure appreciation. Getting shown videos of 400 metre queues outside the Ajax stadium is what blew my mind the most.
As a former designer at Daily Paper, did you have any involvement in this collaboration before you left?
Me and Jeff were briefed by Ajax & Adidas around the start of February 2021 during the pandemic. Believe it or not this was actually very late in the critical path of jersey development, so we had 10 days to deliver our proposal. We actually came up with the ‘Pan-Amsterdam’ concept first, in like 1 or 2 hours. It all happened so quick. I wanted to incorporate Daily Paper’s 10-year anniversary as a sub-theme and use the brand’s evolution throughout the last decade as a catalyst to communicate topics of mutual interest for all parties involved.
From there, I tied in the Pan-African colours of red, black and green that were on Daily Paper’s first ever t-shirt and also prevalent throughout the city of Amsterdam during the Black Lives Matter movement at the time. The diamond (inverted ‘X’) pattern stemmed from the inner-city architecture and Daily Paper’s New York Flagship store. This framework of lines was then populated with red, black and green dots which symbolised East African beadwork. Once all this was tied together, we had the Pan-Amsterdam concept complete. We felt like this represented more of a global audience and we wanted something special that was exclusive for the people of Amsterdam.
This is when we produced the Golden Generations concept and utilised the incredible illustration skillset of Yoram Tora who produced the sketches of the street courts. We knew straight away that this would be used as the 3rd kit and the Pan-Amsterdam narrative would follow in Chapter 2.
Ajax & Daily Paper are now added to the roster of historic football clubs and fashion brands joining forces to produce on & off field collections. How important are culture-crossing collaborations and its impact on the beautiful game?
For most boys and girls growing up, the adoption of football starts on the streets, it’s then taken through grass roots to professional and for the lucky few, elite. But along this journey, the love for the beautiful game seems to disappear as the player advances up the footballing hierarchy. Sometimes, it takes an advert, a football boot, or a kit design to reignite that spark and make you fall in love with the game again.
I used to watch the Joga Bonito adverts and draw R9’s gold mercurials in the back of my science book. I grew up on Mundials and used newspaper as shin pads, so to see that influx of Brazilian culture and how they danced with the ball was inspiring. Therefore, culture-crossing collaborations gives a platform for storytelling that can provoke positive emotion and passion towards the game. I truly hope that a young boy or girl sees this year’s 3rd kit and believes they can be a part of Ajax’s next golden generation.
What football club do you support?
I’m born and bred Manchester and I’m from the blue half of the city. My Grandad played for the club during WWII and always spoke fondly of Man City when I was growing up, so those family ties were already there way before I was born. It was tough living through United’s dominance in the late 90’s and throughout the 00’s, but we live in a different era now and City have a golden generation of their own, in Pep we trust.
As a football fan from the UK, what does Ajax mean to you and what impact has the club and Dutch football overall had on English football?
My first memory of Ajax was in 2006 when City signed right-back Hatem Trabelsi. I had high hopes for the Tunisian, given our first choice at the time was Ben Thatcher. I’d watched Premier League introductions of Dutch superstars like Ruud, Overmars, Stam, Robben & Bergkamp, and obviously at that young age I thought Trabelsi was going to be City’s next wonder kid. He’d just won AFCON and the Eredivisie, but as it turned out, he made 20 appearances for us and then retired. But the consistency Dutch football has shown and how they generate talent year on year is incredible.