From Turin - Cheese and wine, cigarettes and coffee, Kappa and Italian football; some things are just meant to go together.
Kappa and Calcio are synonymous with one another, with the brand part of the fabric of the Italian game, and the Italian game quite literally stitched into the fabric of each Kappa piece.
We at 90min's The Switch were fortunate enough to be invited to the city of Turin, nestled in the Italian Alps and home of Juventus (and Torino), to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the brand's most iconic shirt: The Kappa Kombat 2000.
Donned by the Italy team that reached the final of Euro 2000, the skin-tight fit revolutionised football kit design, and it has since been replicated by the likes of adidas and Puma at both club and international level. The strip was a thing of beauty, in a lighter shade of blue and simply adorned with the nation's crest and the player's shirt number on the front, while the Kappa branding was kept to the sleeves in a subtle touch.
Kappa Kombat 2000 designer Emanuele Ostini
The elasticity of the shirt gave the attacker the advantage, offering 50cm of stretch to give them that extra yard. Over the past 20 years, the design has famously been replicated for the likes of Roma, Napoli and AJ Auxerre.
Kappa marked the occasion with mid-season drops for the likes of Aston Villa, Real Betis and Monaco earlier in February, alongside retro-style tracksuits modelled by the clubs' academy players.
Former Kappa designer and now global brand manager Emanuele Ostini was the genius behind the Kombat 2000 design, and he took some time out to speak to The Switch at the event.
For you, what is the most iconic Kappa Kombat jersey?
"For me, Kombat 2000. We saw last week that Monaco used this jersey after 20 years. 20 years it's again a really perfect soccer jersey
What do you think will be the next innovation in football technology and for Kappa?
We work a lot, two or three years ago Napoli used the 'Kombat skin' technology and also the Burkina Faso national team. We're trying to work year by year to improve it. It is not easy, every year the rules change. But now the concept is fixed and we try to improve year by year.
"I am very happy because we have taken again Monaco in France, Real Betis in Spain and Panathinaikos in Greece which is a new team that is a part of our story."
Being from Turin, would you like to make Juventus' kits again one day?
"I spent eight, nine years of my life with Juventus. I remember by first meeting with Juve I was 21 years old, and with Barcelona, so I spent a long time working with Juventus. But Juventus for us at this moment, they are on another level [laughs].
"Our two main competitors Nike and adidas at this moment are on another level, so we work day by day to take our position. But we are happy, I don't know exactly we are about fifth, sixth position around the world.
"The brand is very strong, we are global, the brand is growing very well, very strong in South America and in Asia, finally we are also in the USA."
Who came up with the idea of the 'Kombat skin'?
"The 'Kombat skin' with the seamless technology, the first prototype was 15 years ago, it was the same machine that produced socks. When I tried to create the first prototype the problem was that the machines available on the market had a maximum size for a three-year-old.
"The 'Kombat skin' is the extreme situation, I saw that for so many players it was a psychological approach."
Did you make the shirt to help the players or the referee?
"First and foremost, it's for the player. Because in the end it's the player that plays soccer. Sure, that it's also important to consider the referee in certain situations, but our first mission is to help the players, to help the athletes."
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