Replica Shirts – State of the Nation

(Posted on 27/09/13)

Despite the doubts of many who claimed the replica shirt craze was just a flash in the pan, wearing the same football shirt as your hero is still hugely fashionable.

Whats becoming more popular however is the retro replica shirt - a shirt from your team’s past.

Is this due to a romantic association with a particular era of your club’s history? A reaction to some of the more formulaic strips that are now changed on a yearly basis? Or simply a need to stand out from the thousands of other supporters on the terraces who are simply sporting this year’s design?

Whatever the reasons, tracking down a favourite shirt from the past is easier than ever before. You could do worse than start here.

The replica shirt has gone through many phases; in its early years in the mid-70s it was worn mainly by children (adults rather ironically still preferring bobble hats and rattles) a fact borne out by the "hen’s teeth" scarcity rating of 1970s adult sized replicas today). By its teenage years in the 1980s it was accompanied by casual apparel and briefly dropped out of fashion, although to be fair this only reflected football’s overall popularity at the time as other pursuits took over.

As it reached adulthood in the mid-90s the replica football shirt enjoyed a golden age. With football back in the hearts (and wallets) of cash-rich fans thanks to the Gazza-inspired Italia 90 and the birth of the Premier League there were kits everywhere on the streets of the UK. And yes, even the fairer sex were also starting to wear them!

Designs became flashier and more confident and changed more frequently. Names and numbers were introduced to shirts worn on the pitch and subsequently found their way on to replicas. Now there could be no doubt who your favourite player was as you could display his name proudly on your back.

As the replica shirt hit its mid-30s and the new millennium progressed a new sobriety took hold and simpler, more traditional designs were worn. With the replica tail now wagging the professional dog they were now being specifically designed with the High Street in mind (and to look good with jeans of course).

Today there is a veritable kit melting pot. Shirts from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s are more popular than ever and stand side-by-side at games. There is no set design trend and instead a rich array of styles can be spotted, purchased and worn. Many collectors and fans alike are also adding to their collection with more and more foreign and hard-to-find jerseys along with collectable and commemorative editions.

So whether it’s this year’s template or a vintage design from 20 years ago there are so many ways to show your support for your team with the aid of a replica shirt.