Football and Fashion are fundamental to McCann’s. So when the team heard about “The Art of the Football Shirt’ exhibition put on by the trade show Jacket Required, we knew we needed to go see and share with our customers! For not only of football fan interest, but also for inspiration, these many patterns and colours could even been used and produced as bespoke linings inside your jackets!

The exhibition itself was held at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, Shoreditch, a trendy location for the vintage wearing football shirt fan, opening on Wednesday 26th July. It celebrates the elevation of shirt design to an art form. Especially with how now when watching some football team designs you do often wonder if they are trying to out fluorescent each other and just design to distract the other team.

Separated into sections of music, street, politics etc, the curator Neal Heard, fashion historian and avid football shirt collector has led you around the room using these different aspects to propel the insight further. It explores football with popular culture, pushing you through history, showing noticeable

With graphic prints from the shirts masked on the walls, it gives a running unity throughout the room. Seeing them aside from the shirts, it gives us inspiration to think of them to be used in different ways. Particularly if not an avid football fanatic, these retro designs can still be appreciated from fabric, cut, collars, colours, badges etc. From our bespoke tailoring heads, you can wander around and even imagine ties or pocket squares that are screen-printed or woven in the iconic and nostalgic pieces we’ve seen gracing our screens, pitches, streets and public figures.

They are belonging items that can strike cord with people throughout ages and language. Speaking to other exhibition goers, these shirts would transport them back to specific moment they’d witnessed and remembered.

On this more fashion front, you can appreciate the innovation for player performance with the ever changing types of fabric due to technology, from thin, elasticated cotton even woollen blends to now 100% polyester in knitted meshes to make them a lot more breathable and let’s say sweat friendly!

Street wear really brought forward the use of sportswear into everyday, and obviously the football shirt. Particularly when those have been made designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, YMC and now we have specific streetwear brands Patta and Palace that even sell straight up football shirt inspired tops, with many wearers not wearing the shirt because its their team, its because of the status, print, the colour and what it symbolises to them or to the passer-by. Especially now as football shirt culture is moving away from the football side, and the bad design associations to a more fashion friendly atmosphere.

Even a massive point from when colour TV would have transformed the game massively in the 60s, which wouldn’t have been necessarily linked to fashion but a great time when truly the block bold patterns and colours would have been in full swing with the game, which from going round the exhibition and reading the boards you can really read the impact.

Any item of clothing holds stories to the wearer, and all of these shirts go beyond just the players, and the game. There are some rare pieces that have gained iconic status, particularly with how they have fused with the other worlds, for example music.

In one corner we see dedicated to the music lover, from New Order to Oasis and Bob Marley. Especially when you are seeing these shirts being worn by these kinds of artists, it opens up a whole new audience and stand-alone in a new space, rather than a JD sports. If you’re specifically interesting in seeing more musicians in football shirts, NME has a whole article dedicated to it, so check it out here:

And lets not forget, there was a keen show of politics in the club shirts, showing that if you have that platform to the general public, use it to the advantage, however subtly or bold, with even some kits with LGBT rainbow symbols.
Even the simpler kits can still be appreciated, and work well within the whole showcase. They are now not just a shirt, they are idolised, they mean money and are history.

Sophie-Nicol Dodds