November 18 2019 – Mitchell Grimes
What is old is cool again. That is often a phrase used in fashion, entertainment, and design, yet those words couldn’t be truer than when considering the world’s current love affair with second-hand vintage soccer shirts.
Whether new shirts produced for the world’s biggest football clubs or vintage stylings being resold online, the demand for second-hand vintage soccer shirts is higher than ever. Collectors, fans, and casual observers of the beautiful game have all become devotees to buying soccer jerseys whether new or old.
The relevancy of Second-Hand Vintage Soccer Shirts is at an all-time high. Yet, fans aren’t purchasing shirts and simply wearing them on match-day. Football shirts have become a cultural zeitgeist and are a part of everyday clothing options whether for work, school, or a night out.
(Alice Copeland from Lover Agency shot by Aleksandar Jason)
There is a strong call back to the 1990s and early 2000s currently as teens and 20 somethings seek out items their parents wore. In addition, financially stable individuals are scrambling to purchase second-hand vintage soccer shirts that they owned when they were younger or weren’t able to afford.
It is this nostalgia that has fuelled the increased interest in these retro kits. Football fans seek out shirts worn by specific teams and players from certain periods to showcase their affinity for a club. Many fans purchase and wear their favourite club’s new shirt, which is redesigned, packed and sold each season.
Yet, fans don classic kits to show their long-running love for a certain club. As the saying goes, you don’t pick your football club, your football club picks you; and wearing the retro threads gives a fan that old-school connection and that feeling of cool before being truly cool.
It isn’t just hardcore fans or individuals hard-up for nostalgia that seek out second-hand vintage soccer shirts. Football shirt collectors have the ability to make new additions to their collections thanks to online re-sellers and kit companies. What was once a hobby in which they spent hours trawling eBay to find a unique shirt, is now a far more accessible pastime thanks to multiple shirt dealers.
Modern football shirts are a dime a dozen. Google ‘Manchester United shirt’ and instantly you will have links to websites selling the latest shirt from the 20-times English title winners. Those shirts will run you about $100 to $200 and mostly everyone you see on a match day at Old Trafford will be sporting one.
The retro shirt offers a Manchester United supporter something completely different. A 1999 David Beckham shirt made by Umbro is a piece of history. Like a piece of artwork, it isn’t something every fan owns, especially when few realised it would be worth something two decades later. Who knew that Beckham shirt bought in 1999 would be an investment that is now worth hundreds of dollars?
It isn’t just a name like ‘Beckham’ emblazoned on the back of a football jersey that makes retro kits in-demand. The graphics and designs of shirts from the 1990s were so godawful that today they are loved by fans. They are designs not seen on modern football kits.
When British sports manufacturer Umbro dominated the 1990s in football apparel, the company launched a number of memorable kits mostly for the wrong reasons. These kits, unloved by many at the time, have now became a piece of history and adored by fans; especially those who weren’t born until after 1995.
Take a look at many of the big football clubs around the world today and you often see the same templates trotted out by Nike, Adidas, and Puma. Although they are different colours, the 2019-20 Manchester United shirt is virtually the same as the Real Madrid top. Both are produced by Adidas and millions of these shirts are sold.
It wasn’t always this way with football shirts. There was a time when teams around the world had unique looking shirts. If a club’s top resembled another team’s jersey, then it was done on purpose such as the twinning of SK Brann’s and Denmark’s Hummel-made shirts in the early 1990s.
Modern jerseys are mass produced with little individuality and that is what is missing from football apparel. Fans have gone back to the age of individuality and excitement, and it is big business.
But why were football shirts far more unique looking in the early 1990s? Post-Cold War there was a move into flashy colours, geometric designs, and baggy fits. This wasn’t just seen in football but in other sports and fashion. It was a time of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, neon colours, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and those elements all coalesced in modern culture.
Football shirt collecting is no longer a niche hobby and collectors number in the millions. Football kits are booming thanks to collectors of rare jerseys, fans that want to wear a cool shirt, or entertainers that wants to stand out from the crowd.
Unlike other sports jerseys, football shirts actually go with every day clothes while showing a fan’s love for their favourite club. Fashion and football are truly a one of a kind thing and kits are more relevant in culture today than ever before.
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