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Evolution of Arsenal’s Kit: From Dark Red Origins to Iconic Red and White

Story Highlights
  • Arsenal's original dark red kit
  • Nottingham Forest players' influence on Arsenal's kit
  • Sparta Prague's adoption of Arsenal's colors
  • Commemorative redcurrant kit for Arsenal's final season at Highbury
  • Yellow and navy blue away kit inspired by "Anfield '89" victory
  • Herbert Chapman's impact on Arsenal's kit design

In

1895, two years before the club turned professional, three Nottingham Forest players—Fred Beardsley, Bill Parr, and Charlie Bates—joined Dial Square FC (the club’s original name) and brought along their old red kit. Due to budget constraints, the club decided to outfit the team in the same color as the former Forest players.

The original kit was dark red with long sleeves, a collar, and three buttons down the front. The players wore white knee-length shorts and heavy woolen socks with blue and white hoops. The goalkeeper wore a similar attire except for a hand-knitted cream woolen polo neck jumper instead of the shirt. This dark red kit was used during the team’s first season at Highbury in 1913/14.

History of the jersey

The generosity of Beardsley, Parr, and Bates in providing shirts and inspiring the club to play in red had a significant impact. In addition, their influence led several other teams to follow Arsenal’s lead. Dr. Petric, the president of Sparta Prague, visited London in 1906, watched Woolwich Arsenal, and drew inspiration to have his team play in the same colors. As a result, Sparta Prague plays in a dark red kit similar to Arsenal’s 2005/06 redcurrant kit.

“Herbert Chapman’s Influence: The Birth of Arsenal’s Iconic Red and White Kit”.com

In the 1950s, a second kit was introduced to avoid color clashes with opposing home teams. Then, around 1960, the club transitioned from a woven rugby shirt style to a new knitted cotton jersey.The iconic cannon graphic first appeared on the shirt in the early 1970s. In the late 1970s, the shirt featured a kit manufacturer’s logo for the first time, starting with Umbro. In 1982, JVC became the club’s first shirt sponsor, followed by SEGA in 1999. Later, O2 replaced SEGA in 2002, and from the start of the 2006/07 season, Fly Emirates became the club’s sponsor with an eight-year deal.

“Redcurrant Tribute: Arsenal’s Special Kit for the Farewell Season at Highbury”. skycleat.com

In commemorating the club’s final season at Highbury in 2005/06, the team wore a unique redcurrant shirt to honor the color of the club’s original shirts during their first season at Highbury. It featured gold lettering and was accompanied by white shorts and redcurrant socks. The following season, 2006/07, marked Arsenal’s move to Emirates Stadium, and the team reverted to their famous red and white colors.

In the 2007/08 season, Arsenal’s away kit celebrated the pioneering spirit of Herbert Chapman. The equipment incorporated design features reminiscent of Chapman’s influence, including a return to white shirts worn at various intervals in the club’s history.

The white shirts proved popular, but for the 2008/09 campaign, the club switched back to the traditional away colors of yellow and navy blue, based on the “Anfield ’89” strip, commemorating Arsenal’s dramatic title win at Anfield in 1989.

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