Every decade can be determined by it’s fashion and style; the 70s had big hair and flares, the 80s flock of seagulls while the 90s is remembered for changing colour t-shirts and curtains across your forehead. Each of these changing fashions can also be said of football kits throughout the years as well, with each style mirroring the decade it’s created from. None more so than the 1990s, where as we discussed on this weeks podcast, football kit manufacturers threw the rulebooks out the window in what is remembered as a truly iconic era of football kits.
From the ‘bruised banana’ at Highbury to the ‘refreshers kit’ England suffered at Euro 96, the 90s represented a true golden era for kit design – whether you think it was a good or bad thing. And one of the decades most decorated kits, for all the right reasons and just as much as the for the wrong ones is the USA’s 1994 away kit.
Launched for the first ever World Cup on North American shores, the USA’s change kit of 1994 is unique as much as it’s a beautiful part of football kit history. Thundering ahead in true patriotic glory, the shirt is decked-out in traditional red, white and blue and topped off with a glut of huge white stars from old glory, to produce a shirt that Uncle Sam would be truly proud of.
However the stand-out design feature of this truly memorable shirt is the shade of blue used. Years before 90s girl band B*Witched made it their trademark, the 1994 USA team took to the biggest stage in football wearing a football ‘jersey’ made-up from a tone of blue that was called, and was quite clearly based on denim. It had never been seen on a football shirt before (and has never been repeated, despite calls for a retro re-make from Nike last summer), but adidas gave the world it’s first ever sports attire that looked like it was taken from the latest Levis advert – no wonder it suited Alexi Lalas so much.
The Americans wore it for all three group games during that brilliant World Cup in 1994, with 90s names such as Eric Wynalda, John Harkes and Roy Wegerle donning the denim delight. How they didn’t melt in the American heat I’ll never know, because I currently own this very shirt, and let me tell you the material is so thick it might as well have been made out of a pair of 501s. Even so, the kit and a rampant home crowd saw the USA reach the second round that summer, before eventual winners Brazil ended their colourful journey.
The shirt still remains my favourite football kit ever produced, just down to it’s originality and a symbol of not just a nation over the moon to be hosting a World Cup, but how fun and different football kits used to be. How I long denim induced football strips rather than the wrath of templates we seem to get in today’s market.
On this weeks podcast we speak 90s football kits, including the 1994 USA kit. Join myself, kit oracle John Devlin, sponsor expert Liam Matthewman and Buzz Feed’s king of football quizzes Richard Beech on the homepage or subscribe on iTunes.