ABM

Italian brand founded in 1981 in Fontevivo near Parma. In their 1990s pomp, ABM supplied Torino, Brescia, Palermo, Udinese, Fiorentina, Cremonese and Piacenza. Further afield ABM’s logo was seen on kits worn by CSKA Moscow, Lille and Heerenveen.

adidas

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
Santos/National
Sport Cup
Inter Cup
Santos/Santiago
Rio
Aberdeen
La Paz
Chelsea
Everton

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.

Admiral
Founded in 1914 by underwear manufacturer Cook & Hurst in Wigston, Leicestershire, Admiral began making and marketing football kits after the 1966 World Cup. Owner Bert Patrick set out to create distinctive designs that could be copyrighted. Leeds were the first club to wear Admiral, and the first to have conspicuous manufacturer branding on outfield player kits.

Admiral pioneered the marketing of children’s replica kits, and their relationship with Leeds manager Don Revie paid dividends when he took on the role of England national team boss, facilitating a deal with the FA. In the 1970s Admiral signed deals with Manchester United, Leicester, Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City,  Southampton, West Ham and national sides Wales, Belgium and Saudi Arabia.

Admiral’s business model of paying professional sides to wear their brand rather than just being a vendor sourced through local sports shops was ultimately their undoing, despite holding the England contract, one of the world’s most lucrative deals, and creating kits for the 1980 European Championships and 1982 World Cups that are considered classics to many, Admiral were declared bankrupt in 1982.

Petrol station magnate Peter Hockenhull bought the brand and the second iteration of Admiral began supplying teams in 1983, striking deals with  Notts County, Bradford City, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace,  Swansea City, Wrexham and Hull City. In the 1990s Admiral supplied Leeds, Southampton, Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic, Wimbledon, Hearts, Motherwell, Rangers, Dynamo Kyiv and Partizan Belgrade.

Airness

French brand created by the Malian Malamine Koné in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis. Airness supplied Fulham in 2006/07, a deal notable for thumbholes in the long sleeved shirts. Airness have also supplied Auxerre, Toulouse, Genk and the Mali national side.

ASICS
Japanese brand created in Kobe in 1949 as Onitsuka, the surname of founder Kihachiro Onitsuka. Nike were originally set up as the Blue Ribbon Sports Company to import Onitsuka running shoes, before Phil Knight sought to produce his own, though even then early Nike shoes were heavily influencd by Onitsuka, the Cortez shoe for example was essentially the Onitsuka Corsair with a swoosh. A merger in 1977 led to the ASICS name which is an acronym for the Latin phrase ‘anima sana in corpore sano’, which translates as ‘Sound mind in a sound body’. Norwich City began wearing kit both made and sponsored by ASICS in 1989, and the firm were prolific in the 1990s, supplying Sampdoria, Roma, Lecce, Aston Villa, Leeds United, Newcastle, Coventry, Blackburn, Sunderland, Bradford and the Japanese national side.

Astore

Atletica

Avec

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

Baliston

Beaver

Biemme

Brooks

Bukta

Founded as E.R. Buck & Sons in 1879

Forum, Centa and Zeebux shirts

Canterbury

Champion

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.

Diadora
Founded in Treviso, Italy 1948

Ellgren

Ennerre

Also NR, after the initials of its founder, former Palermo player Nicole Raccuglia. Created in 1972, Pescara and Lazio were the first teams to wear the mark with two green letters. NR’s shirts were made of a cotton and wool mix, and featured hand cut and sewn numbers. Roma, Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Milan and Napoli all wore NR in the 1980s. In 1985 Raccuglia left NR to the Lazzarini family (who also owned boot maker  Pantofola d’Oro) and the company fell in to decline. He later established Ennedue, or N2, who outfitted Atalanta, Fiorentina, Foggia, Palermo, Pescara and Dinamo Bucharest.

ERKE

Erima

The oldest sportswear brand in Germany, 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

Europa

FBT

Fila,
Biella Italy (now S Korea) 1911

Gola

Hobott

Hummel  Aarhus Denmark (but founded in Hamburg Germany 1923)

Jako   Mulfingel Germany 1989

Influence 

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.

Jartazi

JJB

Joma, Toledo Spain 1965

Kappa

Turin based sportswear firm founded in 1967 by Abramo Vitale. Distinctive ‘Omini’ logo, a man and woman leaning against each other back to back in silhouette, was a happy accident from a bathing suit photo shoot.

The Kombat range designed by Emanuele Ostini in 2000 saw a move away from the baggy kits that had dominated the 1990s to a technical, more form fitting approach.

Kappa have supplied Juventus, Napoli,  Sampdoria, Milan, Barcelona, Manchester City and Leeds, and in international football Italy, South Africa, Jamaica.

Kelme

Kipsta

Kronos

Le Coq Sportif, Entzhelm France 1948

Legea, Pompei Italy 1990

Lotto

, Treviso Italy 1973

Lonsdale

The boxing brand chanced it’s arm at football kit production in the 2000s after it became part of the Sports Direct stable. Blackburn Rovers were the first club to wear the Lonsdale brand, and were later joined by Birmingham and Sunderland.

Luke 1977

Macron   , Bologna Italy 1971

Marathon   ,  Ecuador 1994 (1988 as Store)

Matchwinner

Factory in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire.

Meyba

Mitre

Mizuno

New Balance

Nike

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.

Dri-fit

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

Aeroswift

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.

Olympic

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.

O’Neills

OSCA

Patrick, Oudenaarde Belgium 1892

Penalty

PONY

Puma, Herzogenaurach 1948

Reebok,

Bolton Previously Foster and Sons

Reusch, Reutlingen Germany 1934

Ribero

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

Romai

UAE 2012

Saller

Scoreline

Sondico (was Vandanel)

TFG

Topper

Uhlsport
Balingen Germany 1948

Umbro

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

Airtex

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.

Tactel

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

Warrior

Xara

Mesh

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.

Nylon

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.

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

Coolmax

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

Lotto 

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

Dye-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.

Avec

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.

Rayon

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.

Gatic SA

An adidas licensee headquartered in San Martin in Argentina, which had 25 plants before many closed in 2001 after restrictions on imports from China were lifted. Run by Eduardo Bakchellian, Gatic were founded in 1953 making vulcanised rubber footwear. They acquired a licence to manufacture adidas products in 1970, and have also produced Le Coq Sportif, New Balance, Asics and Umbro sportswear. The licensee occasionally took liberties to recreate kits, leading to some fascinating yet quasi-official variants. In the early 1990s the adidas footwear was exported to Germany to meet local demand, a testament to the quality of Gatic items. The company has own brands Tiempo Libre, Envion and Signia. Envion, who supplied Huracan, are still owned by Bekchellion.