You must get yourself used to see some people walking around in something that appears like a table-cloth on the weekend. It’s not that haute d’couture designers have decided that this year’s summer pattern would be checkers nor that they have something to do with Jokowi’s famous political gimmick. The table-cloth pattern in question is actually Manchester United’s new home kit whose introduction a few weeks ago has sparked chuckles from fans and rivals alike.
The checkered jerseys were inspired by gingham, a plain-woven fabric that used to be produced in cotton mills of Manchester in the previous century – the club is using this shirt as a homage to the city’s industrial history. The typography on the back neck reads, “Forged in industry, striving for glory.”
The fans in this country, however, don’t need to understand the history of Manchester during the Industrial Revolution to purchase a new shirt as a token of their fandom towards the club. Although the shirts became a laughing material almost instantly after the pictures were circulated on the net, it doesn’t stop the fans to pay almost Rp 600,000 to bring the gingham kit home.
For avid fans who can’t afford to spend such a huge amount for a football shirt that they barely wear everyday, there’s always another option: the counterfeited goods, or popularly known as “KW goods.” They say that you can imitate everything in Indonesia and it’s no different with football shirts. KW shirts have been the economic alternative for those who better allocate most of their money to something else.
You can get the KW shirts for less than a half price of the authentic jerseys. The new KW football jersey will cost you nothing more than the range of Rp 160,000 – Rp180,000. If you wish to add league patches and names on the back, you have to add another hundred thousand rupiah, but the full furnished of a KW football shirt will only cost you circa Rp 300,000 – Rp 350,000. Compare it with the authentic jersey with similar treatment and the fortune you’ll have to spend is more than 1 million rupiah.
As a counterfeited item, the differences between KW football shirts and the authentic ones can only be spotted by trained eyes and finger touch. It’s very hard to distinguish a KW shirt by a single glance because it has all the visible details – the kind of benefit that makes the fans love to buy this stuff. Of course the KW shirts will never match the the precision of the authentic goods – there’s a slight difference in terms of fabric material and the shirt engineering technique, but most of the buyers don’t really care about these aspects. Being classy in footballing term for a half a price, that’s what they care about.
Getting a new shirt for the new football season has become a habit for football fans, especially those who follow the European games on TV. This is something that the European clubs are aware about, and they boost their finance through selling merchandise since the 90s. A friend of mine, a veteran football supporter from northern England, said that football merchandise, including authentic shirts, is among the top ranks of everything he hates about modern football. We can see where his argument comes from. Introducing new football shirts every season capitalize on the fusion between fandom and consumerism. It injects a concept of “if you’re fan, you buy this shirt. If you don’t, maybe you’re not a fan as you think you are.”
Then dig your pockets deeper because your beloved clubs demand a renewed pledge of allegiance each season in the form of buying new shirt they are selling. Some people are happily obliged to do so and queue on the line with their respective poison of choice, be it the ludicrous Man United ginghams, the not-so-impressive Liverpool shirts, the surprisingly-average Arsenal designs, or the eye-raking Barcelona psychedelic kits.
You can always turn to the KW ones if you want to be a cheapskate. Your favorite club might not be too happy because they don’t get any revenue from it, but of course you don’t really take what they are feeling into consideration.