Innovation in football kit design began to grow in importance as the 70s approached, and for the 1970 World Cup finals Umbro pioneered the use of Airtex fabric - a lightweight material which was full of tiny holes for added ventilation. The 1980s also saw England return to the Umbro roster after several years with British rivals Admiral. Later in the decade Umbro also began producing football boots for the first time to add to their impressive portfolio of football products.
Competition in the UK kit market increased further as the 2000s moved on with Umbro’s flagship club Manchester United, eventually signing a deal with Nike in 2002 after 10 years with Umbro. The company‘s other major long-term contract in the top flight with Chelsea also came to an end four years later with the Blues moving to adidas. When the Second World War commenced in 1939 Umbro also began producing army uniforms, gas mask covers and various other necessary items to help the war effort.The early 1970s saw the Umbro logo permitted on kits for the first time enabling the company able to maximise exposure and promote themselves. Within a couple of years Umbro had introduced ‘taping’ that ran down shirt sleeves and shorts and consisted of a repeated pattern of the company’s diamond logo.
However as the 80s progressed Umbro’s impressive presence in the UK football kit market was now under threat from the increase of adidas, Le Coq Sportif and other European brands. Long-term Umbro clubs Liverpool and Arsenal both departed for adidas in 1986 in what must have been a big blow to the company. Umbro’s brand awareness at this time was also helped greatly by the almost total dominance of the Umbro-supplied Liverpool team of this period in the domestic and European game.Ever the pioneers in kit design, Umbro constantly pushed boundaries throughout the 1990s. In 1991 the football world was stunned when Tottenham Hotspur took to the field in the FA Cup final wearing long, baggy Umbro shorts instead of the skimpy, tight fitting variety that had been favoured throughout the 80s. Within a couple of years though every club in the country was wearing something similar. The firm also led the way with the post-modern retro kit design boom of the early 90s, reintroducing collars and reinventing ideas from years gone by. The company were also never shy when it came to the outlandish fabric patterns that gained favour as the decade progressed. Other bold ideas included football’s first reversible strip (Manchester Utd’s 2001-02 away/third shirt) and the creation of a unique Champions League strip (again, for Manchester Utd who clinched their unforgettable 1998-99 ‘Treble’ wearing it).
EAN: england 1970 shirt
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