This the new Zambia Home football shirt to be worn throughout 2014, by Nike. The 2012 African Cup of Nations champions’ green shirt is embellished with a complex patterned sublimated watermark, with the stitched crest and the Swoosh logo – in white – on the chest.
Yes, that “Swoosh logo.” But what of that “complex patterned sublimated watermark,” eh? Clearly inspired by stuff like this:
But then again, maybe the Zambian FA were thinking of something else.
Incidentally, such waviness in the line pattern creates an impression of constant movement due to an effect known as illusory motion. The interacting effects of colour contrast and shape as deployed in certain static images can trigger a perceptual response in the brain such as the response it feels when the seen object is actually moving.
A bit like this:
Although this one’s my actual favourite:
So maybe the intent of the football jersey is to fool opponents into thinking players are moving in a direction other than the one they actually are going. Either way, it’s distracting.
Occasionally, psychophysical optical effects are deployed in sportswear design slightly differently. Take this example, of a French team kit from a couple of years back, which carried a pattern that only makes sense when viewed using 3D glasses:
Probably — just probably — players would not actually be wearing 3D glasses in the middle of a game though. No matter.
But the real reason, of course, that sportswear manufacturers utilise micro-patterning when designing new kits is pretty straightforward. It is to make the production of counterfeits more difficult. The same way that banks do it when designing banknotes.
In short, it’s so that they can sell more merch and make more money.
According to the IMF, Zambian purchasing power is ranked 160th in the world, out of a total of 187 countries. GDP per capita is around $1,700, compared to $52,000 in the US.
You can get your own Zambian soccer jersey here — a snip at just $100.
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.