If the past century and a half of sporting history has played out to an overarching theme, then that theme is undoubtedly progress. Standards, performance and records improve in an almost linear fashion, which is why the slowly-run men’s 100m World Championships final in 2017 was so conspicuous. The advancement of sports kit is not an incidental sideshow in this evolution of sporting excellence.


Development was slow to begin with. Early football kits weren’t uniform at all. Conjuring faintly amusing images of moustachioed men running around in heavy cloth caps with cigarettes in their mouths, the first reference to colours comes from the rules of the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC, in 1857, the year in which they were formed:

“Each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap, one colour to be worn by each side.”

For a long time most team sports kits remained rudimentary – thick, heavy cotton, long-sleeved and in simple, plain colours. And in golf’s early days, on the windswept Scottish links, players wore thick tweed jackets, waistcoats, plus fours and caps. Clearly designed to provide a warm shield against the reliably howling elements, the ‘kit’ – if indeed you could call it that – was hardly conducive to a great golf swing. The pre-eminent ‘polo shirt and slacks’ golf look didn’t emerge until the late 50s/early 60s, with labels like Lacoste the pioneers.


The pace of innovation was slow to non-existent, and in football it took decades for the likes of chevrons and stripes to become popular designs. Laced crew necks, stringed crew necks, cumbersome collared shirts and v-necks had all come and gone by the 1950s, by which point things began to get serious. One key factor was the introduction of floodlights and night games, with the first league game under lights played in 1956. Kits looked different – better, especially white kits – under lights, and a trend for matching coloured kits developed, with all-white kits particularly in vogue.

Numbered shirts became compulsory in 1960, marking the start of a decade of significant change – both culturally and in sport. Colour TV broadcasts began towards the end of the 60s, bringing kits into even sharper focus and manufacturers started to become fashion conscious. Until the 70s, football kits’ primary function was to distinguish the colours of one team from another. Football kits were looked upon as equipment rather than fashion items, but that was all to change.


Through its connection with Leeds United, Leicester-based sportswear firm Admiral pioneered the introduction and development of the replica kit in the UK. In the 1973–74 season, Leeds United sported the first visibly branded kit in the English top division and, realising the potential of the replica kit market, Admiral struck a deal with the Football Association in 1974 to produce the first commercially available England shirt that featured a sportswear manufacturers logo. After that, football kits never really looked back.


Nowadays, technical innovation and advancement in fabrics means sports kit goes way over and above merely distinguishing you from your opposition. It can look good, it can feel good, and it can absolutely have a positive effect on your performance. Kits now are endowed with increasingly sophisticated technical features: shirts with stretch panels and fabrics that block sunlight, and moisture-proofing and fast-drying materials that give maximum comfort and breathability.

KUDOS is proud to be at the forefront of custom-made, high performance sportswear. We’ve developed and supply made-to-order teamwear that is durable and designed with sporting development in mind. Whatever your sport, you and your team will excel in our bespoke, industry-leading sportswear – kit that is built for performance and worn with pride.


KUDOS supplies made-to-order teamwear to a range of sports clubs across the globe. We supply bespoke custom kit that is built for performance and worn with pride. Use our one minute kit designer to design your kit today.


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