Umbro’s Latest New York Cosmos ‘Whiteout’ Line – One Tragedy Too Many

When Umbro released it’s New York Cosmos “Black Out” line last year, they found an ally right here on EoS. Some saw the collection as a blatant exploitation of a tragedy that left indelible scars on this City. Others looked at it as a nod to the history of this storied team.

The blackout of 1977 was deeply intertwined with the history of the Cosmos – that is a simple fact. On that day, Carlos Alberto arrived in New York City to sign his contract. His signing marked a major turning point in the fortunes of the club and served as a catalyst in the teams history.

In fact, his tale was chronicled by Umbro in a video tying Alberto’s story with the tragedy, giving an introspective look to the thought process behind the “Blackout” collection …

The Blackout marked the beginning of this teams quest for the NASL title, leading to arguably the most memorable season in New York soccer history – on any level. After quite the investment, the Cosmos finally won the Soccer Bowl and sent Pele into retirement as a Champion. They beat the Brazilian legends former club Santos in Pele’s farewell match. They played eight grueling months of soccer, serving as NASL ambassadors in friendly matches across the world – from China to Japan, Venezuela to Brazil and back. In the process, they became the World’s first true international team.

Now, I am not saying commercial interests weren’t the driving force behind the idea; Umbro certainly wasn’t the first to use a black themed sporting line to create a tasty fashion offering for the masses. Still, there was enough in the collection to make me buy into the idea that this line was more a genuflection to the past rather than a straight-up money grab.

Bottom line – the Blackout collection? I get it.

This ‘Whiteout line?’ You lost me.

Umbro released their ‘Whiteout’ Collection last week. Besides being about as vanilla as soft serve ice cream (no pub intended), the line reaches (really, REALLY reaches) to recreate a historical tie-in to the city of New York with yet another nod to yet another tragedy. This time, the culprit is the “New York City Blizzard of 1978.” Here is a description from the Umbro blog release:

Last year we used the iconic 1977 blackout to create a fantastic collection for the Cosmos. Now, we’re excited to reveal the Cosmos Whiteout collection, which takes that blizzard of 1978 as inspiration for another great range of Umbro gear. It’s on sale now, at the same time of year as when the snow started to fall on NYC back in 1978, and as the snow arrived in England this weekend. Funny how these things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Is it?

First of all, I don’t care how debilitating the storm was at the time; it doesn’t even rank amongst the top five worst storms in New York City history. Second, and perhaps most importantly, what does this have to do with the Cosmos? In order to give history a nod on a clothing line with the badge of a professional sports team, shouldn’t there be a connection of some sort? How does a February storm tie into a season that starts in April?

The idea that Umbro would try to conjure up history by creating weak historical parallels is simply ridiculous. There is no need to find a historical “inspiration” to your line; simply say “hey, you know what? It snows in New York – A LOT. In honor of the winter, we have this new line for you.” At the very least, that would be a far lesser blow to our collective intelligence than this forced tie-in is.

Even putting aside the historical idiocy behind the Whiteout collection, the line itself leaves much to be desired. The Blackout Collection was sleek and sharp; an offering which any sporting fan would be proud to rock. This Whiteout collection looks more like preppy wear for the boarding school nerd. Aside from a track jacket with some great grey accents, the rest of the line is plain; uninspired if you will. Their Whiteout Jumper (featured here) looks like a long sleeve sweater vest. The t-shirts lack the identity and substance previous offerings had with the club. Even the ‘football jersey’ looks more like a golf polo than something anyone would wear for a pick up game (besides, who wants to wear white on a grass surface?).

I am no Versace, but from both a historical and fashionable point of view, Umbro’s latest gear is a dud. It does little more than slap an almost invisible crest on everyday fashion wear.

In the lexicon of the social media generation … #FAIL.

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