Bundesliga soccer is still a fortnight away, but this season's fashion champions have already been named. And if newly promoted St. Pauli fare half as well on the pitch as on the catwalk, they'll surely be delighted.
St. Pauli are top of the table, at least in terms of style
If clothes make the man, they're still probably not enough to guarantee success on the soccer pitch, at least not judging by the results of this year's Bundesliga fashion league table. The league's giants were largely banished into obscurity while the little teams shone as a panel of judges ranked the jerseys of this year's eighteen championship hopefuls.
Bundesliga newcomers, and probable drop-zone candidates St. Pauli topped the style rankings for their earthy brown shirts with jet black shorts and socks, an accolade which could prove to be the high point of their season.
"St. Pauli don't just flatter with their cuddly choice of material," juror and fashion design professor Julia Schnitzer said of the silky-looking outfit. "In this jersey you just look good, anywhere, and you can transform that general sense of belonging into a really special feeling."
The almost all-red shirts and black shorts combination of Freiburg was dubbed "the most elegant" of the 2010 Bundesliga - netting second spot.
Bayern Munich got flamed for a lack of effort, but red and white scored well overall
"In Freiburg they have realized that the modern pro doesn't just have to be able to play football, he's also a celebrity and sex symbol at the same time," the jury surmised.
The winning combo: red and white
And it seems that if you want soccer style, then Hamburg really is the place to be - contrary to many pundits' past assertions on sporting elegance. The city's largest club, perennial Bundesliga front-runners Hamburg SV came in third, just two spots behind their Reeperbahn-based neighbors, St. Pauli.
Hamburg's white shirt and red shorts mixture - which has remained unchanged for years to those without an eye for fashion - was described by the panel as "the modern classic", where "nostalgia meets with visions of the future."
The distinctive red with flashes of white traditional to FC Cologne won the team fourth place, with the judges drawn to the aggressive, simplistic tone. Apparently the outfit "screams attack," which is exactly what many of the Cologne faithful were shouting for last season.
The red and white color combo is one of football's most popular in general, and it dominated the European qualification spots in this table, with the "zesty, funny, modern, and different" maroon and white of Hanover fifth in the fashion standings.
Substance over style
Bremen's "snappy, very snappy" design shake-up earned them sixth
With the possible exception of Hamburg, none of the teams which are likely to be front-runners on the pitch next season had much to cheer about on the style front.
Defending champions Bayern Munich, for instance, could only manage thirteenth for this year's outfit, even though it will still fly off the shop shelves.
"They're so good that it simply doesn't matter what they're wearing! It seems the jersey designers at Bayern Munich have worked to this motto for a long, long time."
Werder Bremen came in sixth, Stuttgart seventh, Dortmund eighth, Wolfsburg ninth, and Schalke 12th: and all these sides will expect to perform markedly better that that on the pitch this season.
Another title challenger, Bayer Leverkusen, even earned a place in the fashion relegation zone, after experimenting with one of the biggest design changes of the season. The traditional vertical red and black stripes have been replaced with an all-black affair, with one prominent diagonal red stripe down the chest.
"It's a shirt that looks like a German no-entry traffic sign," the judges conclude. "It makes each player look like he's been crossed off the list."
Behold! The Bundesliga's biggest crime against fashion, that's if you can bear to look
However, almost as if the jury wanted to at least appear to have taken the football form book into account, they did pick a couple of teams with poor prospects this season to occupy the bottom two spots in their table.
Mainz's red-on-top, white-below affair was decried as "a red bag with sleeves attached, perhaps good for enabling exclusive concentration on the game."
And in the admittedly unlikely event that you're thinking of buying a Bundesliga soccer shirt purely as a fashion statement, then steer well clear of the all-white of Borussia Moenchengladbach - adorned only with the almost fluorescent yellow of its main sponsor's logo. It looks like a blank sheet of paper which has been marked with a highlighter pen.
"No cut, no innovative material, a complete absence of any form of design. Nowadays, good design doesn't have to cost money, it's a pity that information hasn't filtered through to Moenchengladbach yet."
But perhaps the Gladbach board shouldn't despair.
Armed with the knowledge that Bayern Munich can't be bothered to put in the effort, and that Frankfurt's 15th-placed kit "is not only phenomenally unsexy, but almost entirely unflattering as well," football clubs should remember that most football fans are likely to go out and buy the same shirt as always this year - the one peddled by the team they support.
Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Michael Lawton