Review: The Art of the Football Shirt

We pop down to London’s Brick Lane to see The Art of the Football Shirt by author Neal Heard. It really is a treasure trove for any retro football shirt geek…

If you’re in or around London on July 26-27, 2017, get to Brick Lane and The Art of the Football Shirt. The show is curated by Neal Heard, author of A Lover’s Guide to Football Shirts, and features some of the all-time favourites from the iconic Adidas West Germany 1990 shirt, Hummel’s mid-80s Denmark, Fiat-sponsored Boca Juniors, a few AS Saint-Etienne jerseys, among a host of others.

For those of us who remember football before 1992, there are a host of classic English club shirts, such as Arsenal’s yellow with black triangle Adidas away strip (1991-93), Manchester United’s blue leaf third kit from the same period, and Liverpool’s last champion side’s silver away kit.

Flashbacks to Brian McClair and Gary Gillespie

There are some Italian classics in there; early 90s Vialli-era Sampdoria (home and away), AC Milan, and mid-90s Nintendo-sponsored Fiorentina. Memories of Gazzetta Football Italia came flooding back. There are some classic French kits – both club and country – from the seventies through to the nineties.

There’s also an interesting political section, including a classic DDR (East Germany) kit, the USSR, FC Sankt Pauli’s LGBT+ rainbow trim shirt, and a sky blue and white striped Stockport County away shirt that was withdrawn mid-season during the Falklands Conflict as it resembled Argentina’s jersey.

I managed to get a quick chat with Neal, and hopefully didn’t insult him by decrying the absence of England ’82 (Admiral) and Guinness-sponsored Queens Park Rangers (1982-83) – the QPR shirt seems to have been a popular request. I have one and I’m very proud of it…

Personally, I feel also football shirt design lost its way in the mid-90s, after all, it had the 1980s – the best era for shirts – to follow.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking but get to the show if you can. More info here and it’s FREE! And check out our post on the Joy of Nostalgia.


England’s third kit (1990), made famous by New Order, and Nantes, as worn by Bob Marley



The former DDR (East Germany) 1980s

Arsenal away 1991-93

Maradona era Napoli and Vialli era Sampdoria

Care to share?


  1. Surely what makes a great football kit is not just the design, but also the exposure it had at the time. Germany’s kit, with the flag running across the centre, was worn in 1990 when they won the World Cup and again in 1994. Arsenal’s yellow away kit was worn when they won the title at Anfield in 1989 and, as you say, the England 3rd kit was publicised by New Order. So I would hypothesize that this is less a celebration of kits, and more a celebration of teams, individuals (Vialli), and matches (Arsenal 1989).

    This also explains why the QPR Guinness kit does not immediately come to mind (I’ve never heard of it, let alone seen it), and also why the infamous Coventry brown kit, which I own, is also presumably not included in the collection.

    • There was a Coventry kit that pre-dates the famous Talbot ‘T’ design, but the brown kit is a classic. Agreed, exposure helps. Arsenal’s yellow kit in 1989 was different from the black triangle (1991-93) kit on show and its iconic yellow kit goes back way further – also famous (Charlie George ’71, the ‘Five-minute final’ 1979). On the whole, I think you’ve nailed the criteria of an iconic kit: the design, the stage/exposure, the players

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