History of the Arsenal Football Kits
Currently playing in the Premier League, Arsenal is well known for their signature red and white home jersey plus their extravagantly designed away and third kits. However, some do not know the fantastic story behind their choice of home colourings. And this is why we have put this article together; below we will explore the history of the club’s football kit and how it has evolved over the years to keep on track and in style. So, what keeps Arsenal supporters eager for the latest football shirt release? Find out more below.
Origin of the Arsenal Home Shirt Design
The story behind the colouring of the signature Arsenal home shirt is rather interesting. As he club was the first in Woolwich to be established in 1886, the founders Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates had to source a kit for their players. And as they were both former players of Nottingham Forest, they were able to reach out to their previous club for assistance. They then luckily received a donation of a kit and a ball from Nottingham Forest.
The kit which was given to them was a dark redcurrant jersey with white shorts and white and blue socks. Arsenal played in this apparel for a number of years before Herbert Chapman changed up the appearance of his players to make them more distinguishable amongst other clubs. From here he brightened the red base colour and added the white sleeves which we know and love today.
It is believed that Herbert had a rather peculiar influence for the design choice; however no one is quite sure which it was. There are rumours that he saw a supporter wearing a red sleeveless jumper over a white t-shirt in the stands. And there is alternate reasoning that Chapman was inspired by an outfit worn by Tom Webster the cartoonist during a game of golf they played together.
Ever since the update to the clothing in 1993, AFC manufacturers have toyed around with the colour placement of the kit. First time this was done was in 1966/67 where the club played in all red home jerseys which fans did not agree with, and they shortly returned back to their white sleeves in the next season.
Manufacturers Through the Years
Since becoming established, Arsenal has worked with a number of sports manufacturers when it came to producing their much loved sportswear. Recently they have just signed a contract with Adidas after a successful 4 years with Puma. This new collaboration is expected to last for five years and rumoured to cost £300m. Arsenal lifted two league trophies when donning Adidas apparel, which leaves fans eagerly anticipating the upcoming fixtures. However, prior to this they have also partnered with Adidas before in 1986 for 8 years. Below we have broken down the companies who have made the AFC clothing over the years:
- Bukta – 1930 to 1970
- Umbro – 1971 to 1986
- Adidas – 1986 to 1994
- Nike – 1994 to 2014
- Puma – 2014 to 2018
- Adidas – 2019 onwards
From 1886 to 1930 AFC did not have an official manufacturer for their sportswear, however as of part way through 1930, the club partnered with Bukta. Bukta then went on to produce the team’s clothing for 40 consecutive years before switching to Umbro in 1971. After 15 years with Umbro they then moved to Adidas for eight years before signing long term manufacturers Nike. Their contract lasted 20 years before they switched to Puma in 2014. Looking at the breakdown of this kit history, we can see that AFC prefer to have long term established partnerships with a sports brand instead of short and sweet deals.
Most Iconic AFC Football Tops
Arsenal, like many other soccer teams has seen a number of highs and lows in the football leagues they have participated in. However, when outstanding achievements are seen by the club or the players, fans seem to favour that season’s jersey, thus making it an iconic style. Some of these widely favorited styles are discussed below.
During the 2003/04 season Arsenal were unstoppable, which earnt them the nickname ‘The Invincibles’ after their impeccable performance. The club won 26 games and drew 12 times in that Premier League season and the support for the team was at an all-time high. This is the main reason why the Arsenal home shirt for 03/04 was so popular amongst fans. This is because it celebrates a significant achievement in the club’s history when they won Champion’s status in the Premier League.
Highbury Commemorative Jersey
For the 2005/06 home shirt, Nike produced a deep redcurrant top with yellow gold accents. This particular design was chosen to pay homage to the appearance of the first ever shirt worn by the club. And on top of this, it was also a way to commemorate the last time the team would ever play at their home grounds in Highbury before they moved to Emirates Stadium. To acknowledge this, each shirt features an embroidered time stamp of the clubs era at the stadium along with the name either side of the crest.
Unpopular Arsenal Home Jerseys
Arsenal’s home shirt is loved by all fans due to its simplistic yet effective red and white colour scheme. The most common styling of this is a red torso with the crisp and clean white sleeves which leave a fresh base for the Premier League patches to sit. However, in 1992 Adidas made a huge mistake when they re-designed this classic appearance.
When making this home shirt, they kept wish the signature red and white colour placement, however they added three Adidas stripes to each sleeve. These stripes were adorned in red and black print and had fans in uproar. This choice had therefore ruined the sleek feeling of the jersey and left them with a garish Adidas advertisement where a plain and stylish base once was used.
Shocking Away and Third Shirts
When producing sportswear for a widely supported football team such as Arsenal, manufacturers feel like they need to try something new with the design to keep fans interested and engaged. However, this tactic to keep up with the ever changing trends can come back to bite them. And as Arsenal has had a number of jerseys over the years, there is no doubt about it that there will be some kits which fans love and some which they hate. Below is a breakdown of Arsenal football shirts which fans have not enjoyed watching their beloved team wear on the pitch:
- 1991/93 away shirt by Adidas
- 1993/94 away shirt by Adidas
- 2002/03 away shirt by Nike
- 2007/08 away kit by Nike
- 2012/13 away kit by Nike
- 2014/15 third shirt by Puma
- 2015/16 third shirt by Puma
There is a running theme amongst some of these most disliked jerseys for Arsenal, and that is the colour blue. Fans seem to feel a heightened amount of dissatisfaction whenever the Gunners are playing in a blue patterned jersey compared to that of most other colours. However, their most hated strip was that of the 2007/08 away strip produced by Nike. This kit was made in commemoration of Herbert Chapman; however their choice of a white jersey with burgundy detailing left fans fuming. This was due to the fact that by having white as their base colour, it resembled their neighbours – Tottenham Hotspur’s kit too much.
Closely behind this one there are two yellow based jerseys which fans did not like. The 1993/94 away shirt left fans feeling like the top was an advert for Adidas rather than an Arsenal jersey due to the fact that there were large stripes down the front. And the 1991/93 away top was far too garish for the supporter’s liking with its overly complex black chevron design on a yellow base.
Another away jersey which was not a fan favourite was that of the 2002/03 apparel produced by Nike. This shirt featured dark sleeves and a hypnotic design on the torso which supporters did not like one bit. It was uncertain as to what the reasoning behind such a distracting appearance to their away jersey was for this season as it was not easy on the eyes.
What are Your Thoughts on the Previous Arsenal FC Shirts?
Above we have taken a look into the evolution of the Arsenal home shirt and how they adopted the infamous colour scheme. But now we would like to know your opinion on their sportswear, which has been your favourite style they have ever worn on the pitch? And what has been the worst? Find us over on our socials and let us know, join in the conversation with like-minded soccer fanatics today!
You can also find Arsenal shirts here at Soccer Box, with the latest home, away and third kits available as well as an of special offers on older season jerseys. So, discover you favourite designs now and place your order with us while supplies last! We also have the option for you to personalise your new soccer jersey with your own details or your favourite players in official Premier League lettering for that extra authentic feel!
This article was written exclusively for Soccer Box by Loren Astbury