There was a package of awesome sitting on the front stoop when I got home from work last Friday.
I knew it would be there. Like an impatient twelve-year-old before Christmas, I’d been tracking the package on UPS’s website hourly for at least the previous day and a half. Knowing it had been sitting there since around 1:30pm ate me alive at the office, and I spent the better half of my Friday afternoon debating feigning illness so I could leave work to race home and retrieve it earlier.
Suffice to say, this just wasn’t any package.
Back at the beginning of October, the newest addition to the New York Cosmos “Tailored by Umbro” line — a smart-looking green away strip — was just starting to pop up around the blogosphere. My longstanding obsession with the Umbro x Cosmos partnership is well documented, so it’s not that surprising that my ogling and drooling continued with the latest rendition of the Cosmos iconic kits. So just as I did when all of their other gear dropped, I made mention of it on Twitter:
So while that tweet was standard procedure for me, what wasn’t was receiving a response about it directly from @Umbro_USA.
Not only had Umbro replied to one my tweets, but they also made mention of possibly providing me a freaking free sample of their uber-amazing Cosmos line?!?! Saying that I was stoked would be a gross understatement.
A few anxious weeks transpired after, with some exchanged PM’s and emails providing my size and the other items from the Cosmos range that I fancied. I was told they couldn’t make any promises on what would come, but I should expect something to show soon. It all felt so surreal: could this really be happening to me?
My minuscule fears of an elaborate Twitter trolling were allayed when my contact forwarded me the shipping number early last week. Within three agonizingly long business days, the package for which I had so eagerly awaited finally made its way to my front door. And its contents were quite the sight to behold:
Umbro bestowed upon me a cornucopia of Cosmos swag so amazing, I could hardly believe my eyes. All three of their jerseys were included — the iconic remake of the white home kit, the still unreleased green away shirt I mentioned in that devine tweet, and my personal favorite, the bad ass jersey from the Cosmos Blackout line — along with a logo t-shirt and the team hoody. I’ve got to be honest: if they had promised me they were sending this much at the beginning, I doubt I would have belied them and probably would have dismissed further discourse as spam.
As it turns out, this was actually the first time I had seen any of the Umbro x Cosmos line in person, and the thing that immediately stood out about the jerseys is how light and comfortable their fabric felt after pulling them on. Unlike your standard polyester based, sweat-wicking jersey, the tailored shirts feel more like a cross between a stone-washed t-shirt and a really light towel. An odd comparison for sure, but it’s definitely a plus. While I can’t vouch for how the material would perform in match conditions, they are extremely comfortable to simply wear around.
Ignoring the fabrics’ feeling, it’s really in the visual department that these Tailored by Umbro masterpieces impress. Each provides a modern, updated look that embodies the style and panache of the legendary NASL side. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to Umbro (a design preference I share with them), though it’s the Manchester-based company’s attention to detail that makes them one of my favorite kit manufacturers.
This detail-oriented approach has been a hallmark of Umbro’s recent renaissance in product design, and has been balanced with brilliant marketing efforts that pay just as much attention to the little things. I’ve been particularly impressed with the Umbro Blog and the Kasabian England away kit launch as innovative ways they keep in touch with their core target market, but their other efforts deserve recognition too. Shoot, just using the phrase “Tailored by Umbro” is a great marketing ploy: it not only tells the consumer they can buy a shirt that fits just right, it also gives the impression that you’re buying a product of higher quality. Genius stuff, really.
So all in all, while I was obviously ecstatic about the anonymous benevolence of our all-seeing Umbro Twitter overlords for selfish reasons (find me someone who doesn’t love free stuff, and you’ve also found a liar), I was also all geeked out because this amazing experience made me feel like “one of the big boys” in the world of football blogging.
Over the years, I’ve read new gear review unboxing posts on all the major blogs with envious eyes. Those guys seem so damn lucky: not only do they get write about soccer for a living, but they also have the manufacturers sending them freshest boots and gear to try out a gratis in exchange for some publicity and page views.
But thanks to Umbro — and their marketing partner Offside Media — I now know the euphoria and excitement those other established bloggers must experience every time they do an unboxing. And it gives me the opportunity to undertake nerdy photo editing projects like the shot to the right.
@Umbro_USA, you were able to squizz way, way more than a sample my friend. If it hasn’t come your way yet, I’m sure you’ve got a big wave of awesome karma heading your direction.
UPDATE: Just in case you want to see more of the Umbro x Cosmos line, I’ve posted all of my unboxing photos on the WSOTP facebook page.