England 2012 Home Kit Review

england-h-12Very few kits create as much interest among the football fashion fraternity as a new England strip. The 2012 home kit from Umbro, launched a couple of weeks ago and worn for the first time against Holland in a friendly, has again generated some fierce debate alongside a fair bit of controversy (mainly by Daily Mail readers who complained that the previous shirt had only been worn 8 times. But thats just the sort of thing Daily Mail readers like to do).

Well, now the dust has settled I thought it was time to give my views on the shirt.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Umbro up to Manchester City’s London office near Hyde Park for a sneak preview of the kit before the launch and a chat about the design. My first impression on its unveiling was that it looked superb – FAR better than the grubby leaked shots that had appeared on line a few days earlier (these leaks really take the sting out of new kits don’t they?) The absence of the familiar blue and dominance of red trim brought to mind a conversation I’d had with Umbro a couple of years ago when I was asked what my views were on red’s place on the England kit. So thats what they were on about!!

Another initial thought was that the white was actually a very pale cream, which when combined with the red trim gave it an inherently English/old school cricket team vibe. Although this wasn’t the case – the cream ‘cast’ was simply caused by the ambient lighting and the tone of the mannequin showing through the shirt – I do think that would have been a nice idea. Maybe next time.

Umbro reinvented kit design with the production of the 2009 England home kit and since then their ethos of proper, classic tailoring without the “bells and whistles” favoured by other companies has shone through with every outfit they produce. Its no different with this kit. Examining the shirt in detail reveals the neat button up collar that is designed to be worn in one of three ways: 1) Buttoned up with collar down 2) Unbuttoned with collar down and 3) Collar up revealing Umbro’s latest design motif consisting of a sequence of stylish bands in a variety of red shades. Expect to see similar  throughout Umbro’s kit roster for the forthcoming season(s) – the rationale comes from wanting to create an additional Umbro branding device such as adidas’ three stripes.

Back to the collar though, I prefer seeing the collar up with the stripes showing and think this would have made a strong design in its own right. Comparing colllar up vs collar down, there’s quite a big difference in appearance. Almost like comparing a non-contrasting collar to a contrasting one. My only fear with this potential for variation though is that players on the field could vary the way they wear their jerseys creating slight visual anomalies. What with base layers, gloves, coloured boots, sock tape and, God help us, snoods, do we really need another way for players to disrupt the visual integrity of the team kit?


Examining the shirt in more detail reveals two considerably different fabrics, a cotton feel for the body and a more synthetic appearing material for the sleeves. Another great design element is the slight split in the sleeve cuffs that creates a real old school tailored jersey feel. This is the best part of the kit for me to be honest and in my view gives the long sleeved shirt the edge over the short sleeved version where the split is less pronounced.

The lack of blue in the kit was clearly a big step for Umbro and a brave move by the FA in rubber stamping it. When the current blue away shirt was launched England fans were up in arms saying that there is only white and red in the English flag and that therefore there should only be white and red in the kit. Well, you got your wish. There’s only white and red in this one. As Umbro explained, inspiration for the design comes from the flag of St George.

Although I prefer to see England’s white shirt combined with a dark navy and just a splash of red, I have to say I think the white and red colourway works a treat and really brings a fresh look to the kit. The only problem I do have is with the badge.

Yes, the famous three lions are now rendered in all-red (possibly as a result of the highly successful tonal ranges introduced by Umbro in recent years) and have lost the new shade of blue introduced a couple of years ago when the badge was redrawn. I was surprised that the staunchly traditional FA gave this the go ahead. Early versions of the kit did feature the standard badge but this direction was abandoned and the decision made to go solely with a red and white colour scheme. For me though the badge shouldn’t have been tampered with. Maybe its the graphic designer in me but I feel the team’s visual identity has been lost a bit with the move away from the badge’s regular colour scheme. I think it was unnecessary and a distraction from what is otherwise a very fine kit.

The team have switched back to white shorts as well, primarily in line with UEFA’s obsession with single colour kits (although other countries don’t toe the line). Expect to see the white shorts abandoned though when England aren’t playing in a major tournament. The new red tonal stripes adorn the shorts by way of small triangles on each leg and also feature on the sock turnovers. There are a pair of red change shorts as well, although these are a slightly different shade to the red worn as part of the goalkeeper’s all-red kit.

Ah yes, the goalie kit. I won’t go into too much detail about that here, except to say that expect a patriotic display when Joe Hart stands between two outfield players should the side be sporting the red change shorts in a match.

Summing up, I think the new home design is a great kit – not a classic though, and not a patch on the 2009 home shirt but a definite improvement on the slightly too clever for its own good 2010 home jersey.

Its solid, classy and not afraid to stand up for itself amongst the intricate flashes and coloured panels that form part of so many other international kits. Its been  designed with the thought and care you would expect from Umbro and as such is a brave design. I just can’t get over the all-red badge issue though. The white and red together certainly scream ‘England’ but do they scream ‘English football’?

As a way of a PS, I should remind you that myself, a loyal Scotland fan, will be donning the new England shirt as part of Sport Relief’s ‘Shirt of Hurt’ challenge. I would really appreciate it if you could sponsor me please as I prepare to wear an England shirt for the very first time!!! Full details are here. Please sponsor whatever you can afford. It’s all for a good cause….thank you!

24 Replies to “England 2012 Home Kit Review

  1. Nice review John and I’d agree with pretty much all if it. I’d have lost the collar though. Also I’d prefer to see navy shorts and a traditional blue crest. I still get an uncomfortable feeling though with the ‘concept’ approach by Umbro. I mean basing the kit on the English flag is hardly ground breaking innovation and there’s been red on the shirts previously that represented this so it’s hardly new. And red change shorts? Very Polish…or is that another of their ‘diversity’ gimmicks?

  2. Wasn’t too sure about the lack of blue on this at first, but now I love it and think it’s one of the best England kits for years.

    The goalie kit is stunning too! Just a shame we’ll almost certainly disappoint in it 🙁

  3. Interesting point when the kit came out from umbro was regarding the lifespan of the kits,18months are now seen as the norm!
    As for the kit,well i’m and advocate of white shirts with red numbers,navy shorts and white socks,its ok but the badge makes it look like a training shirt,Badges/crests should be left alone.
    The away kit is awful by the way!

  4. don’t like it. whilst our flag is white and red , the england kit should always be white shirt , navy shorts and white socks. i won’t be getting it. i also wish the away kit had been reversed ,ie sky blue shirt darker blue shorts and sky blue socks. umbro seen to be messing about to much with kits these days.

  5. Simple and elegant, I like the under collar detail and as with all other England kits since the “tailored” approach was launched the material is great, a vast improvement on the cheap, smelly polyester of old. Going all white every now and again is fine by me, although the red change shorts will make us look Polish.

    But I do agree with you John about the badge. For me that should be untouchable. Since the Cross of St George came to increased prominence over the last couple of decades we’ve heard a lot of people moaning that “there’s no blue in the Cross of St George” – but the emblem of the England team is the Three Lions Badge, which is predominantly blue. Given the whole ethos behind Umbro’s work since 2009 has been about traditional kit values I am surprised by the badge.

  6. I can’t hide my dissapointment over the design of this kit. The all red badge is a massive mistake as is dropping Navy shorts in my view. My overall opinion is it looks a bit ‘chavvy’.

    I was looking at the Goalie shirt yesterday and am convinced this was intended to be a new away kit. When has there ever been a short sleeved version of a GK shirt readily available to purchase?

  7. The GK shirt does look a lot like an away shirt. In the 90s, GK shirts used to include a lot of padding on the shoulders and elbows (even the replicas) but that doesn’t seem to happen now.

  8. Umbro have been releaasing short sleeved versions of the goalie kits since at least 2004, my brother had the light blue kit frim euro 2004 in short sleeve, and I remember seeing the black with red sleeves also for sale in short sleeve.

  9. Ah yes, I remember the last yellow gk shirt (released at the time of the last red away) was available in short sleeved and the light blue one you mention.

  10. when i was see the pgotos of it i thought it was related in desigin to the last two shirt but when i see it ,it is tailer diffrenty to the last two the coller is a nice touch very 80 i thought plus white short brave concidering the 2010 shirt regain umbro status as a top kit maker ,but as a collecter i would get it eny way a loong with the very nice ireland shirt too i

  11. I think that given someone will shortly be tasked with coming up with a team GB kit for the olympics which will presumably be red,white and blue, now is the time to make the England kit representative of the Englesh flag.

    I therefore am in favour of the new kit.

  12. I like the fact umbro/nike are using different colour schemes as englands first kit was not white-navy-white. The players were only supplied with the jersey and the choice of shorts and stockings was down to the players creating various styles when it came to their bottom half (white shorts, navy stockings was the most common colour scheme). This brings me to your point about the collar and there being being “potential for variation” surely it can be seen as a modern interperetation of going back to the grass roots, I would like to think that but harsh reality makes me think its just a gimmick to sell the shirt. I just wish modern day kits would have a longer shelf life

  13. So what if navy blue isn’t in the England flag? Blue isn’t in the Italian flag, nor orange the Dutch, but those colours unmistakably represent those countries. White and blue represents England, regardless of the flag. This shirt is no more patriotic than any other, and people who bang on and on about patriotism do tend to be unthinking foghorn mouthed dweebs.

    Not so keen on this shirt, very much like the keeper jersey though.

  14. Something I’ve spotted, which is a bit picky but considering how much Umbro preach about their attention to detail may be worth pointing out, is that on promotional images Kyle Walker is wearing a prototype, or, far more likely, appears in shots which has been photoshopped to within an inch of their lives.

    Something that I’ve noticed recently is that the new England (and Italy) collar appears to be based on retro styles which are popular on dress shirts currently. Ties in nicely with the “Tailored” thing but it’s certainly not what Walker has on here:


    That collar is so different (closer to the Ireland away) that, looking at the badges too, I’m inclined to think that all Walker modeled was a white t-shirt which was then expanded to resemble the shirt on a computer screen.

  15. I wider if Joe Hart’s all red kit caused the Belgians to change to Black yesterday. Pretty sad day if it was! Oh and just cause I always say this: Black should only ever be for Officials!

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