Umbro, the British sportswear brand, doesn’t really need to underline its style credentials. Before brands were clamouring to create football meets culture crossovers, Umbro gave us the sartorial accompaniment to Italia 90 – an absolutely sterling kit, with the greatest World Cup song by New Order to boot. It was so good, that Palace later referenced it for its 2012 collaboration.
Now, to coincide with the summer’s World Cup hosted in Russia, Umbro has dug even deeper into its rich footballing archive to create a capsule collection that pays homage to the 1966 competition, the year England actually won the thing. In advance of that tournament, the son of Umbro’s founder travelled the world to strike deals with the 16 competing sides. Everyone would be wearing Umbro. However, when the tournament began, only 15 teams turned out in the English sportswear brand’s kit – the USSR had reneged on the deal, the designs being lost to history in the process.
Fittingly titled Unforgotten, the latest Umbro capsule collection riffs on the idea of what those kits would have looked like, combining Soviet-inspired typography with the brand’s signature motif and a nostalgia-tinged sportswear aesthetic. Within the collection, Umbro has also released a capsule range inspired by Russia’s goalkeeper from that tournament, Lev Yashin. Nicknamed the Black Spider because of his style of play and all-black kit, Yashin is widely considered to be the greatest goalkeeper of all time. The range riffs on his moniker, delivering stealthy, all-black bomber jacket, trackpants and t-shirts.
While political tumult perhaps best defines the current relationship between Russia and western countries, there has been an increased cultural appreciation of the so-called post-Soviet aesthetic in recent years. In particular that with a sportswear-slant – thanks to designers like Gosha Rubchinskiy and Demna Gvasalia. This collection neatly fits into that cultural dialogue, with Umbro providing an authentic expression of its heritage, and one that chimes perfectly with the current zeitgeist.