We've all done it at some stage in our lives. Re imagined that iconic football shirt, basketball or American football jersey. Probably as a past time at the grandparents with a fresh pack of pens and a scrap book.
Well for Turkish designer Emre Gultekin, that past time turned into an obsession, which later turned into a career. This performance sports apparel creator, eats and sleeps all areas of design in his field. Cult Kits spoke to him about his passion and how he turned a simple love into a full-time job.
CK: So, the first question we always ask everyone is, do you follow a team?
Emre: I support the most charismatic and probably biggest, team in Turkey, Galatasaray. I also support my local team called Goztepe. It’s a place known to have the best and most loyal supporters in my country.
CK: For those reading about you for the first time, can you tell them a bit about yourself.
Emre: I am a passionate Product/Graphic Designer, who specialises in performance sports apparel. Since I was a child, I have spent so much time reading about the Olympic games, world cups, athletes’ biographies. That’s evolved into drawing their sports outfits. From that point the interest made me want to study Graphic Design and work in the sportswear industry as a career. As a result, I now have more than ten years’ experience as a Designer in this industry! I'm so grateful to have worked with some global brands such as; Mizuno, Kappa, Puma and Real Madrid to name just a few.
CK: Do you liken your graphical style to anyone/do you have any specific inspirations?
Emre: My style is very characterised by simplicity and functionality. I generally create minimalist designs to give a deeper sense of beauty and deliver strong design DNA.
In regard too inspiration, I enjoy the history behind a sport. So, as a result, most of the times I get inspirations from the historical and cultural references. As we all know, all the great designs have great stories at their very core. So deep research, plus my own design process is utilised to capture emotional feelings.
CK: Would you say you have a fascination with kit history?
Emre: Yes, definitely. For me, my story actually started in 1982, when I was 7 years old. I can clearly remember that one day I received a pair of, (probably fake) adidas shorts from my father. They were red, with 3 beautiful yellow stripes on the side. First of all, I was to fall in love with the 3-stripes identity on the shorts. Closely followed by the red & yellow colours. This seemed to instantly make me a die-hard Galatasaray and Goztepe supporter, as both teams have the same colours.
Then, two years later – cam the Euro’s in 1984. During this tournament, I totally admired the adidas kits, in particular the French kits. From then on, I kept drawing football kits after watching every football match. I would also continue to use sports books and magazines as inspiration. This obsession as continued throughout many more European Championships, World Cups and Olympic Games. I memorised every single game, athletes and their sports outfits. As a result, I became increasingly passionate and knowledgeable about all sportswear products, particularly football kits.
In 2009, I discovered John Devlin's legendary book called "True Colours Football Kits". He illustrated nearly all English clubs’ kits from 1980's to 2004. I said to myself, almost immediately, that I have to do same thing as this that expresses my eternal love, Galatasaray. From there on, I worked really hard and illustrated all Galatasaray kits from 1905 all the way through to the present season.
Hopefully, the club is going to publish my work one day, maybe even at the end of this season. Having now done this for my own team I’d like to do similar projects for other English teams such as Manchester United.
CK: If you could design a kit with any brand, who would that be? And why?
Emre: It would be Nike. Galatasaray has a long-term relationship with Nike that I suspect is set to continue. Therefore, I have sent so many designs too, (I hope) the right people at Nike’s Global Football over the past 10 years. It’s resulted in me having had a few interviews with those guys…I am still trying!
CK: Do you have a specific era that you like most when it comes to kits?
Emre: Yes, definitely from 1984 to 2000. It was a great era for all sports brands as well as music and lifestyle. The likes of adidas, Nike, Umbro and Diadora, delivered so many timeless and unique kits in my opinion.
CK: How long does each of your kit history projects roughly take to produce?
Emre: It depends on my workload. It generally takes from 2 weeks to 1-2 months.
CK: Is the imagery referencing for producing the kit illustration timelines easy to get hold of? As there have been so many kits produced over the last 30 years, it must be hard to determine which went with what year?
Emre: It is easy to find references from 1990's. However, it is so difficult to find out pre 1990's. Even more so for pre the 1960's. I generally research club’s archive or museum, not to mention old sports magazines and newspapers
CK: So, what team or national side can we find you working on right now?
Emre: I am currently working on Argentina and Boca Juniors kit histories.
CK: I people want to check out more of your work, where can people find it?
Emre: They can view my work on my Behance page and Instagram profile here.