Once a major player on both the club and international kit scene, Umbro remains an iconic soccer brand, even if these days they find themselves primarily supplying second-tier clubs and nations. Many of the biggest clubs and countries have moved on to manufacturers like Nike and Adidas, and in 2022, Umbro doesn’t have a single team in their stable for the World Cup. But that hasn’t stopped the Manchester-based company from celebrating soccer’s biggest event, as they’ve released a special set of kits they’ve dubbed “The Nations Collection.” Consider it Umbro’s attempt at an alternative World Cup kit collection.
Umbro has taken elements from their past kit designs, and created a retro-inspired line for seven nations – England, Mexico, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, and the United States. Perhaps not coincidentally, all seven countries are outfitted by either Nike or Adidas, the undisputed heavyweights of the contemporary kit world.
Umbro’s alternative World Cup kit collection
Brazil and England‘s designs have the strongest retro feel, with the classic polo collar and sleeve cuff trim that is very reminiscent of their early 90’s designs. The rest of the shirts follow a consistent template, with crew neck collars and no sleeve trim. A common thread throughout the collection is a geometric pattern that is repeated, either across the entire body of the shirt or a stripe across the chest. The pattern varies from shirt to shirt in which geometric elements are colored, and how subtle the tonal effect is. The shifting of coloring is very effective, making each shirt look unique despite utilizing the exact same pattern.
Each shirt design comes complete with a custom badge, “inspired by each nation’s sporting and design heritage”, and all except Mexico are designed with the overall shape very similar to the real federation crest for each country – but different enough to avoid any legal issues. Germany’s is perhaps the closest to the real thing, circular with a large eagle in the center.
The United States design, in particular, is certainly more interesting than many of the Nike efforts of the past decade. The eagle/star badge is reminiscent of the original D.C. United logo, and gives off an uncomfortably-authoritarian vibe, but regardless is a much more thoughtful piece of design than the USA badge that was introduced back in 2016.
Is this merchandise collection a move to cash-in on a World Cup in which Umbro isn’t the uniform supplier for a single national side? Sure. But it has produced some stylish shirts that offer solid alternatives to fans who have been disappointed by this year’s official releases.
Umbro’s collection is available from umbro.co.uk
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October 4, 2022 at 12:34 pm
I’ve always loved the traditional Umbro style. I went to a youth soccer camp in Massachusetts in the late 1970s and every camper received an Umbro shirt styled after the New England Tea Men kit from the old NASL. I wore the shirt for many years after until it didn’t fit anymore. Unfortunately, the EPL and other leagues have sold out for the money to outfitters like Nike. Nike is a company that doesn’t really possess any sense of tradition and I find most of their kits, including my own beloved Liverpool’s, hideously ugly.