The new England home kit is revealed today as England take to the field against Slovakia in an international friendly at Wembley. For the first time the kit has been created using a bespoke tailoring process for each player.
While the unique all-white kit is notable for its clean, classic, simplified look, it is the product of a complex design journey. Umbro has reclaimed its proud heritage with a modern, ‘Football Tailoring’ concept, which involved fitting sessions for every player, making each individual squad member’s kit unique to them.
Umbro’s design team, headed up by senior designer David Blanch, was joined by noted RCA graduate Aitor Throup, a specialist in motion design and Savile Row trained tailor Charlie Allen. Together they deconstructed the traditional kit and evaluated every stitch and seam in relation to its purpose in football.
The result is a stylish, made-to-measure kit specifically designed to adapt to and reflect player movement during a game. The fabric used is an evolution of current kit materials, combining a high cotton content with performance capabilities and breathability. The shorts come in different length fittings and even the socks have had seams repositioned and feature special ankle sections for improved fit.
Taking initial inspiration from the all-white strip worn in the 1966 World Cup semi-final against Argentina, the new kit is a stunning statement of confidence in pure, unadulterated, white-on-white. Even the star representing England’s 1966 World Cup victory is in tonal white. The only colours on display are a red Umbro logo and the newly-designed, light blue ‘Three Lions’ Crest, as a beacon of pride on each player’s chest.
Every detail on the kit has been considered: from the easy-hanging, darted shoulders and ribbed, vented underarm, to the flattened inside seams; from the single-button placket collar to the layout of the airflow vents (which are arranged in the pattern of the roses on the Crest). Every detail is designed purposefully for ultimate performance and stylish appearance. The kit also features a small section under the badge for the name of the opposition and the match date for each game.
In line with the new ‘Football Tailoring’ approach, the new England shirt will be the first ever to be sold by chest size instead of the conventional small, medium and large sizes. The new England shirt will be available from sports retailers, the Umbro Tailored by England space in Shoreditch, London and online through the FSC SHOP with a recommended retail price of £50.
After being individually measured and fitted, each player will wear their own, bespoke kit. John Terry, captain of England commented: "The fitting process quickly made us realise that Umbro's approach for 2009 was going to be very different from anything that has been done before. Having a shirt that matches your own personal measurements creates a kit that literally has the fit and style of a tailored suit. You immediately feel comfortable and confident when you put the kit on.”
The crisp smartness of the new kit reflects the approach and increased confidence seen for England under team manager Fabio Capello, who played a pivotal role in approving the design and process.
Capello comments: “The opportunity to be part of the process allowed me to input my vision for the future of the England team. The Football Tailoring concept will instill pride and confidence into the player wearing the kit and will create an intimidating visual for the opposition.”
David Blanch comments, “Our first inspiration was the image of Bobby Moore lining up in all-white before the 1966 semi-final against Argentina. The quiet confidence he gave off chimed with the atmosphere round the current England team. We wanted a kit that would refer to that moment in history and link classic tailoring techniques with modern performance capabilities.”
Kit design and detail
The England kit has drawn on the inspiration of iconic images from the past. The new kit is completely white to focus attention towards the bold new ‘Three Lions’ Crest recently created by The FA. The only other colour on the kit is a classic and understated red Umbro diamond alongside the crest.
The gold star, first introduced in 2003 to celebrate England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, has been changed to a tone on tone version.
The kit is manufactured from the most high performance fabrications available and has 20% cotton content. The resulting matt finish is a radical departure from previous Polyester football strips and makes the shirt more comfortable for players and fans alike. The shirt boasts a formal placket collar and bespoke buttons.
The ventilation in the new shirt does not use the usual mesh fabric and is instead perforated with small ventilation holes under the arms and in the lower back. The pattern of the holes is taken from the position of the roses on the Crest. This system of ventilation holes creates an effective airflow to cool the body.
Base layer, shorts and socks
Umbro started the design process with the base layer, building the garments from the inside out. Subsequently, this is the first football shirt designed to work in tandem with a base. This is the first base layer to be designed specifically for football, protecting the areas of the body that come under the most strain during a match. Full base layers will be available for the upper body, thighs and calves, all featuring expandable components that provide support and freedom of movement.
For over 30 years the England home shorts have been dark blue, but in order to reflect the purity of the kit worn by the England team in 1966, white shorts have been reintroduced. With only tone on tone badging, the overall effect perfectly mirrors the integrity of England kits from the past. A dark blue version will be available for when the team’s colours clash with their opposition.
The tailoring theme has been applied to the shorts for the England players. Each player will have the choice of three lengths so that their shorts, like their shirts, perfectly match each player’s measurements.
Umbro has also paid great attention to the socks. There is no branding, but the real innovation is in how the socks have been constructed. Seams around the foot have been removed to reduce the likelihood of players suffering from blisters during tournaments and specially constructed ankle joints have been incorporated to ensure a perfect fit.