In 1949, after a fall out with his brother Rudi and the dissolution of the Gebrüder Dassler sports shoe company (which had supplied running spikes for the American sprinter Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics), Adolph ‘Adi’ Dassler founded adidas in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach.

A shoemaker by trade, Adi was skeptical about his firm producing textiles, although he did produce some tracksuits for football in the 1960s. His son Horst was the driving force behind the licensing of apparel for the 1972 Munich Olympics, and expansion into the apparel market saw them buy German mark Erima and French firm Le Coq Sportif in 1976. Early outwardly branded adidas shirts featured collar tags with both the adidas and Erima logos, as they were made at the latter’s factory. Inroads were made into the English leagues in 1977, with Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Fulham and Newport among the first to have the ‘trefoil’ logo on kit, prior to that adidas were known for their football boots (Umbro were UK distributors of adidas footwear from the 1950s and most of the 1966 World Cup winning England team wore boots with the trademark three stripes).

Notable templates

World Cup Dress
Sport Cup
Inter Cup
La Paz

The Netherlands won the 1988 European Championships, immortalising the unglamourously named ‘Ipswich’ template. The design, by Ina Franzmann, was also used by the Soviet Union for Euro ’88 and for West Germany’s change kit in the 1990 World Cup.  Another Franzmann design was used at both tournaments for West Germany’s primary kit and regularly tops greatest shirt/kit polls.

Notable technologies

Climalite 2000 (1985-1991)

Launched ahead of the 1986 World Cup, Climalite 2000 shirts feature cotton on the outside and  synthetic fabric underneath, moving sweat away from the skin and assisting the body to maintain a  natural temperature.

APM – Anatomically Placed Mesh (Circa 1998)
Mesh inserts offer ventilation in critical body heat zones.

Climacool (2002-2005)

Climacool is ‘an integrated system of technologies’ that work together to regulate body temperature. A combination of heat and moisture dissipating materials, strategically placed mesh panels for ventilation, and 3D fabrics allow air to circulate close to the skin.

TechFit (2010-2013)

Form fitting garments reduce muscle vibration and improve oxygen transfer, reducing fatigue and soreness as well as encouraging athletic posture. Sometimes used with PowerWeb straps, which improve endurance by forcing lactic acid away from the muscles,

ForMotion |(2006-2014)

ForMotion uses 3D sculpted cuts of fabric that move naturally with the body for fit and comfort in motion.

Adizero (2013-2016)
With an emphasis on weight reduction, garments are constructed with a lightweight woven fabric. Any elements that would add noticeable weight – like the crest, the sponsor applique, the adidas logo and sleeve stripes – are heat bonded onto the fabric, instead of being sewn on or embroidered. 

Climachill (2018- )

Small aluminium silver beads are woven into the fabric, pulling heat from the wearer’s body. Microfibre construction draws moisture to the exterior of the garment where it evaporates and aids convection, circulating air around the body.

, Leicester, 1914, kits since 1966


Asics, Kobe Japan, 1949









Founded as E.R. Buck & Sons in 1879

Forum, Centa and Zeebux shirts



Founded in 1919 as the Knickerbocker Knitting Company in Rochester, New York, the firm became Champion in the 1930s. Now a part of Hanesbrands (making them stablemates with Hanes,  Playtex and Wonderbra) they relocated to Winston-Salem, Carolina in 1989. and made uniforms for NFL and NBA teams. Champion Europe was based in Italy and that entity produced kit for Parma, Sochaux, Wigan and Wales. The UK distribution licence was held by JJB Sports.

Founded in Treviso, Italy 1948





The oldest sportswear brand in German, R. Wehrstein & Co. were founded in 1900 in Reutlingen, Baden-Wurttemberg. Bought by Erich Mak in 1936, they took on the name ERIMA. Supplier to German athletes in Olympic games between 1960-1972, they made West Germany’s World Cup kit in 1974. Bought by adidas in 1976 to make licenced apparel, shirts that were outwardly branded adidas had Erima logos inside.

Errea Parma Italy 1988



Fila, Biella Italy (now S Korea) 1911



Hummel  Aarhus Denmark (but founded in Hamburg Germany 1923)

Jako   Mulfingel Germany 1989


Supplier to QPR, Birmingham, Peterborough, Cambridge and Portsmouth. Run by the Kumar Brothers who owned Birmingham and later Cardiff, Went bust during the 1992/93 season.



Joma, Toledo Spain 1965





Le Coq Sportif, Entzhelm France 1948

Legea, Pompei Italy 1990

Lotto, Treviso Italy 1973


Luke 1977

Macron   , Bologna Italy 1971

Marathon   ,  Ecuador 1994 (1988 as Store)


Factory in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire.



New Balance


Founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in January 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, who distributed Onitsuka Tiger running shoes imported from Japan, before outsourcing production of their own designs. Became Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory in May 1971. The firm from Oregon, USA established their first UK/European HQ  in Doxford, Sunderland, which might explain why Sunderland were the first English side in Nike.


A moisture managing material from Nike that moves perspiration away from the body and to a garment’s surface where it evaporates.


Texturised yarn is fuller than on previous garments so using less yarn does not render garments near-transparent. Fabric is stretchy, and a combination of single and double knit in the same fabric allows for a mix of breathability and structure as necessary. Ventilation is incorporated into the fabric, rendering the need to laser cut holes obsolete.


The UK company was founded in 1995 with two British and two Portuguese directors, to operate a license from the Portugusese brand that supplied Benfica and the Portuguese national side, who wore  Olympic at Euro ’96. In the UK Olympic was worn by Leyton Orient, Southend United, Hull City, Hearts, Dundee United, Rushden and Diamonds and the Northern Ireland national side. The company floundered in 1999, and in 2000 the name was picked up by Marcel Lismond, the former Sint-Truidense player who established Olympic as a Belgian teamwear supplier.



Patrick, Oudenaarde Belgium 1892



Puma, Herzogenaurach 1948

Reebok, Bolton Previously Foster and Sons

Reusch, Reutlingen Germany 1934

Ribero Wokin England bust in 1994

Romai UAE 2012



Sondico (was Vandanel)



Uhlsport, Balingen Germany 1948


Harold Humphrey, one of the Umbro founders, had worked as a saleman for Bukta in Stockport


A perforated, cellular material used for warm weather shirts. Arguably the first ‘performance fabric’, it was created by the Aertex company of Manchester in 1888 and used for underwear and hot climate military uniforms. Umbro called the fabric ‘Airtex’ when they used it for England shirts in 1969, though it gained real prominence in 1970 when all three England shirts used at the World Cup in Mexico were ‘Airtex’. Also used by Scotland in the 1974, 1978 and 1986 World Cups, and Australia in West Germany in 1974, it was used domestically by Arsenal, Aston Villa, Derby, Leeds, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Watford and Wolves.


A form of Nylon that is very soft to the touch, as well as lightweight and versatile. Used to produce the 1988-90 England shirts.

Under Armor




An open textured fabric that can be knitted or woven. The visible holes give a garment breathability.

Flatseam construction

A sewing process that produces a flat stitched surface instead of the rough rounded seam of most garments.

Scalloped hem

Found on shirts, the bottom hem is high on the front and lower on the back.


The brand name of a synthetic fibre that is naturally hydrophobic so quick drying, it is also shrink, mould and wrinkle resistant. ICI acquired a licence to manufacture Nylon from DuPont in 1939, partnering with Courtaulds to form British Nylon Spinners. Also known as polyamide, the fabric has poor insulating properties so is not ideal for winter wear. More stain resistant than polyester, it comes in two forms, numbered 6 and 66.


‘omini’ logo

Combination of polyester and crab shell. |Alleviates skin conditions.


Grooved polyester fibres drain moisture from the body. Keeps muscles cool or warm depending on outside temperature.


Italian brand made their world cup debut in 1990 with Costa Rica.

Sublimation printing

The application of inks onto a fabric surface using a heat press. The inks are converted from a solid to gaseous state enabling them to penetrate the surface so that a permanent full colour image is formed and is scratch resistant and long lasting. The high temperature of the heat press opens up the polyester allowing the gas to enter. When the temperature drops, the pores close and the gas reverts to a solid state and is now part of the polyester.

Waffle knit

A knit that makes a waffle like pattern, giving the material an insulative quality.

Flock is the name given to very short fibres which are applied with an adhesive.


Despite sounding Portuguese the firm was from Woking in Surrey. Went bust in 1994.


Owned by Justsport who held rights to distribute Nike teamwear in UK. Bradford, Doncaster, Hull City, Berwick Rangers, Ross County, Morton, Queen of the South.

Jack Hill

Based in Whitechapel in Liverpool from 1910, distributed Umbro in north-west. Taken over by JJB in 1980s.

Initially, cotton in shirts was woven similar to dress shirts, but in 1950s the change to a cotton knit resulting in lightweight shirts.


Wolves pioneered the use of the man made silk substitute for football, making shirts used in floodlit match trials in 1951. Birmingham’s 1956 FA Cup final shirts were made from Rayon.