Football Shirt Culture

Designfootball.com is 13 years old this year, and I thought it about time I outlined some of the occasions I’ve noticed an “IRL” release sharing traits with a design we’d earlier seen on the site.

The following representations of both DF designs (cover versions, if you will) and notable releases of the last decade or so are the work of the brilliant Kitbliss's Chris Oakley. Each separate graphic draws a comparison between design ideas which made it to the real world, and similar thoughts that had appeared on DF (with one exception) at a previous point - the latter on the left, the former on the right.

So, without further ado, in rough chronological order of the actual designs’ releases...

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West Germany and, latterly, the side representing the reunified Germany - a natural progression from the previous Fifa member, and absorbing Germany DR (East Germany) - have one of the most glorious histories in international football. And a kit history to match.

Courtesy of designer Emre Gultekin, this progression has been beautifully rendered. The Home designs have generally been white and black, with varying proportions, from beginning to end, but there have been notable exceptions.

Everton would, but for local neighbours Liverpool, have been the English team of the 1980s. They started the 1990s' poorly but were hoping shiny new Premier League football would spur them on.

Carrying over their 1991-92 kit for the first season, long-term partner Umbro was paired with the iconic NEC sponsor on a collared shirt with jacquard pattern and sleeve and hip embellishment.

South London's Crystal Palace began their Premier League life in a Bukta kit, but this was replaced mid-season by a virtually identical Ribeiro effort due to Bukta hitting financial trouble.

The Nehru-style button-up collar shirt with the bold red and blue stripes was decorated with a full colour crest and the Ribero logo and sponsor Tulip Computers in white. As was common in that era, the fabric had a complex jacquard pattern.

The 1990s is often remembered as a period of excess in graphic patterns on football kits, and the Ribero example Coventry City wore as they kicked off their Premier League life is no exception.

At first look, the sky blue with scattered white and truer blue seems random, but there is some structure to the effect. Add in a Peugeot logo - eventually placed on a white rectangle for legibility - and you have an iconic Nineties design from an iconic Nneties Premier League side.

Chelsea had received a new contrast collar kit from Umbro in 1991, complete with the longer shorts the double diamond brand pushed with that season's releases, but they didn't enter the Premier League era with a complete hand-me-down.

For Blackburn Rovers, enhanced by the signing of one Alan Shearer, it was a return to the top flight in time for the Premier League's first season and a return to royal blue on one half of the shirt.

Asics had replaced Ribeiro and McEwan's Lager had a new logo, in red, to tie in with the trim. Blackburn did well, but glory was on its way...

1992-93 was the first season of the Premier League, and it was also the last year of Umbro's most recent partnership with Aston Villa.

The throwback kit - nodding to a version worn 100 years earlier - featured a lace-up neck and other Victorian stylings, but with a modern jacquard pattern and Umbro's new uppercase branding.

Arsenal joined the adidas "Equipment" movement in the summer of 1992. The standard stripes of the German brand were gone and somewhat replaced with an alternating-colour ribbon effect on the sleeves - reminiscent of several Italia '90 designs.

The logos being centralised was another departure, with adidas's appearing on the exaggerated neck.

Something new has made its debut over on our sister site, DesignFootball.com. The kitvote section, with a True Colours feature of the 1992-93 Premier League Home kits.

Illustrated by John Devlin in his trademark style, it’s a collection of designs bound to get the nostalgia juices flowing, with long-missed manufacturers and sponsors as well as wonderful examples of 90s design.

Classic Football Shirts