It’s safe to say that Umbro has been ripping it up with its kit releases for the 2019/20 season, with some of the best bespoke designs around boasting a mixture of bold and brash or clean and tidy. But this isn’t something that’s happened overnight; Umbro is one of the longest serving kit manufacturers in the game, and it’s this heritage, this experience, that’s helped the brand to consistently maintain a position as a premium player in the market.

Harold Humphreys, barely out of his teens, created Umbro in 1924, and within ten years both Manchester City and Portsmouth were wearing Umbro kits for the 1934 FA Cup final at Wembley. It was a startling introduction to the game and it didn’t stop there; by 1966, 85 percent of all British clubs were wearing Umbro. The brand’s growth continued, and with it many lasting memories were made, from England’s World Cup victory in ’66 to Liverpool's dominance throughout Europe in the seventies and eighties and on to Manchester United's treble-winning campaign of 1999.

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Throughout all of these moments in time, one thing stood out: the Double Diamond. Over the years it became a symbol that was synonymous with quality and class. It’s something of an understatement to say that the phrase ‘class is permanent’ is well-used in the world of football, but Umbro is the epitome of it. Where other English kit manufacturers such as Admiral fell by the wayside over the years, Umbro has endured and stayed relevant to exist as the only English kit manufacturer in the Premier League.

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Umbro’s influence, however, is certainly not restricted to its homeland, with a strong presence in South and Central America offering an experimental playground for kit design. It presents an opportunity to work in an environment that's been free from the conservative approach that's hindered creativity in Europe over the last couple of decades. A look at the three kits that Umbro has produced for Mexican Ascenso MX side Leones Negros UdeG shows all you need to see: a mixture of bold, block colours with some wonderful detailing throughout providing the club with three outstanding, yet entirely different looks. 

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Combine the brand’s strong history with the ability to experiment a bit more freely, and you can start to see why Umbro have nailed it so emphatically this season. A look at their huge archive shows some of the most memorable and striking designs of all time, particularly from the golden era of kit design that was the 90s, a time that coincided with the advent of the Premier League. And now Umbro are drawing on some of these strong visual elements, including them at times in sleek and subtle executions, such as the subtle shoulder detailing on the Huddersfield away shirt and PSV third shirt.

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The visual identity of the Double Diamond has never been stronger, to the point where it has now become its own element within this season’s kit designs; consistent subtle details pulling together the Umbro 19/20 theme. The Hearts home shirt is a perfect example of the brand providing a modern twist on a traditional home kit, with a sublimated, shattered diamond design across the body. It provides a lovely blast of retro feels that ensures that it sits apart from the tasteless templates that litter the game at the top level. It’s yet another area where Umbro have marked themselves out.


Umbro’s kit releases this season have rarely disappointed, with each of their clubs proudly showcasing their own individual DNA ingrained within their shirts. Championship side Hull City’s home shirt is the perfect example of this, the tiger stripes across the upper of the shirt capturing the essence of the club while also being modern, striking, and completely unique. Equally, the Blackburn Rovers away shirt takes the classic 50/50 split that’s synonymous with the home shirt and switches it up with a modern interpretation that sees the left side adopting the shattered diamond print. And it doesn’t stop there. West Ham, Derby, Everton, Burnley, Bournemouth, Brentford, Nurnberg, Schalke, Werder Bremen… the list goes on, and they can all boast individual, bespoke designs that capture elements of the clubs’ stories, lending them a greater meaning combined with equally stunning designs. It’s become a very exclusive group.

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Just look at the numbers: Umbro provide kits for just four out of the twenty Premier League clubs, and those types of statistics continue wherever you look in the world. The brand sit in that category of not being too mainstream, and it’s a decision they’ve made quite purposefully, enabling them to select their partners carefully, which in turn allows them to provide the attention and identity they feel these clubs deserve. Attention that may well be lacking from other brands. On top of this, they’ve also prioritised kits over everything else – they still produce top quality boots, but kits are undoubtedly what they do best.

And so, despite being the old boys, Umbro continue to remain relevant, leading other brands with their own style and in their own way.

Still top of the pile, still kings of replica, still the OG.