League Two side Forest Green Rovers have released the world's first bamboo football kit for the upcoming 2019/20 season.
The Gloucestershire side have gained international fame in recent years for their eco-friendly approach under the chairmanship of green energy magnate Dale Vince.
They became the first vegan football club back in 2015, while plans for an all-wooden stadium have since been put on hold after planning permission was rejected. The new 50% bamboo kit - which is recognised by UEFA and FIFA as a world's first - is the club's latest initiative in pursuit of sustainability.
The home design - made by sportswear brand PlayerLayer - features a striking zebra-stripe pattern in the club's bright green and black.
The away design, while also featuring the same stripe effect, is more muted in a grey-black print with green detail.
An announcement statement on the club's website reads: "The new design is inspired by the animal’s natural camouflage – so effect for a dazzle of zebra (the collective noun for a group) when bamboozling predators and stopping them from attacking. The zebra’s striping also makes it harder for rivals to judge their speed and direction.
"In a further nod to nature – the new shirts are the first in football to be made from bamboo – a fast growing, super sustainable material. This year’s kit uses a 50% bamboo mix – significantly reduces the use of plastic.
"Working with its kit partner PlayerLayer, the intention is to further develop this revolutionary approach, to create 100% sustainable high-performance sportswear."
The statement also notes that club conservation partner Sea Shepherd's logo all features on the design, while the shorts are sponsored by plant-based milk company Oatly.
Dale Vince, chairman, Forest Green Rovers, said: “We’ve taken inspiration from nature with our new kit – from the zebra stripes to the sustainable materials. I was pretty shocked when I found out that modern sportswear is actually made from plastic – that feels wrong to me, not just from the sustainability point of view, but for performance too.
“Together with PlayerLayer, we’re making strides towards a new approach for football kit – this year’s 50% Bamboo is a stake in the ground (no pun intended), we plan to move beyond that. The aim is 100% sustainable high-performance material.”
The unusual design prompted a mixed reaction on social media.
Why did no one turn round at any point of designing this and realise “this is an awful awful idea” 🤢 embarrassing— Alex Johnson (@JohnnoP1996) July 5, 2019
Oh ffs it's not that bad! Quite like it tbh💚— 🇪🇺✖EthanF✖🇬🇧 (@efier6) July 5, 2019
So are we going to be known as the Green Zebras now?— Bells Abub (@voodoobluesman) July 5, 2019
That is literally the most disgusting shirt I’ve seen.🤦♂️— Coreeeyy22 (@Coreyknight4) July 5, 2019
That's an ultimate team kit sorted— Darren Locke (@Lockey168) July 5, 2019
From the Cotswolds town of Nailsworth, which has a population of under 6,000, Forest Green missed out on promotion to League One in 2018/19, losing in the playoff semi-finals to Tranmere Rovers.