Today (Monday 8 April) marks the opening of an exhibition titled 95, celebrating Umbro’s influence on football for the brand’s 95th anniversary. In its hometown of Manchester, the free exhibition takes place for a week at 23a Princess Street and exhibits nearly a hundred years of its back catalogue, detailing historic kit designs.
A collaboration between Mundial magazine and Classic Football Shirts, the designs on display showcase Umbro’s legacy as a “quintessential name in British sport”. Founded by the Humphreys Brothers in 1924, the pair started the company above their mum’s pub and went onto outfit all but one team in the 1966 football World Cup.
Dan Sandison the editor in chief of Mundial and curator of 95 tells It’s Nice That on the significance of these kit designs: “Umbro essentially set the mould for how football shirts are designed. Any design trope, innovation or application of a change, in the advancement of the football jersey (over the course of the last hundred years or so) was pretty much done by Umbro first.”
Working closely with footballers and their managers alike, Umbro developed a sportswear brand with a touch of the personal. The curator goes on to say: “Even now, after the explosion in popularity of football shirts which have crossed over into a lifestyle garment seeing appearances on the catwalk, almost everything we love about the football shirt was first established by Umbro’s double diamond.” The design timeline throughout the exhibition “sets the tone for how we understand the story of the football shirt”; fluorescent detailing, numbers on the back, lace-up collars, high-end motifs, colourful jacquards and all.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.