Monaco Blue

The evolution of kit design

A country’s football kit is often a source of pride that fans can rally around.

But it’s also something that can appeal to neutral fans as something to appreciate and collect. Over the course of 21 World Cup tournaments there’s been a noticeable evolution in design as kits follow fashion and interiors trends.

Simple block colour

Up until the tournaments in the 70s and 80s, kit design was very simple. Block colours dominated with many countries using the same design across successive World Cups.

Surprisingly, the kits of the 60s didn’t reflect the outrageous fashions of the time but instead provided a stark contrast of muted colours. Clean, simple colours were cheaper to mass produce and the kits closely toed the line with national colours. Shirts and shorts were often contrasting colours and designs were simplistic but always looked good under floodlights.

And then came the 70s and 80s...

Creeping patterns

Just like interior design of the time, football kits in the 70s and 80s involved patterns to make the teams look unique.

Poland’s traditionally white and red kit added stripes to the shirt. Portugal moved away from red and navy to maroon stripes with green shorts. Italy’s progression to pattern was slightly more subtle with stipes running down the shoulders and across the sleeves. Mexico’s kit followed the same trends as Italy’s but was unusually manufactured by Levi’s.

The creeping patterns were almost testing the water for what was to come. Culture in the 90s embraced individuality and many people could afford to splash the cash on a few extra luxury goods. This was a notion that was certainly reflected in football kits.

Dazzling technicolour

The 1990s were all about geometric shapes (think Saved by the Bell), pastel shades and matchy-matchy furniture. And World Cup kits delivered this in spades.

Brazil’s strip featured three translucent crests arranged diagonally. England had a diamond strip follow by stripes in the next tournament. Germany’s 1994 kit had a vibrant red and gold plumage surrounding the collar and Japan’s debut kit had stylised flames running up the sleeves.

And of course we all remember David Seaman’s technicolour wonder from the Euros in 1996 which captured almost every single trend of the time. His kit red, yellow, purple and green kit had a huge England badge stamped across one side. As goalie kits go, its combination of colours and patterns were certainly a distraction for any goal scorers with the squad conceding just six goals in full time play.

The modern kit

2000s to present day have seen a combination of the two trends merge which perfectly reflects our love for retro styles and interiors.

Nowadays, kits are vibrant with only a hint of pattern. The emphasis is on colour over pattern and what it represents. This year Portugal has opted for gold touches to the kit to represent its victory at the 2016 Euros.

Many kits, like Nigeria’s, are influenced by the debut kit worn at its first tournament and others are directly influenced by those worn in the 1990s. Spain’s kit has been criticised for resembling an anti-monarchy flag but its pattern and colours resemble the kit worn at the 1994 tournament.

Gone are the days of clashing colours and contrast kits though, FIFA introduced rules in 2014 that said a kit must have a dark shirt and a light shirt. Similarly, checkered and striped shirts must use colours in equal parts – so no more repeat of David Seaman’s wonder shirt in the 90s!