Prestige and honor are the first words that should come to mind when it comes to football kits. The jersey you put on is the essence of the club and represents the whole team on the pitch. 11 players step on the field all donning the same color besides the keeper, and display to the audience the insignia and design of their respective club. Chelsea have predominantly always used blue as their primary color with either yellow or white being the secondary colors. Our very first initial primary color was a different blue we use today; Eton blue was our very first home colors in 1905. Chelsea have produced various historic and memorable kits over the course of the century, but several stand out more than others. This is due to the significance of what was achieved during that tenure. For example, the 1970 Chelsea kit represents an historic moment as it became the first time Chelsea won FA Cup trophy carries a special sentiment to this day. The famous and memorable kit was remodeled and brought back for the current FA Cup campaign back in January as a tribute for the anniversary of their victory 50 years ago. The plain yet satisfying royal blue has been an enchanting color for the pensioners and many remarkable kits come to mind when we think of glory.
Chelsea’s first initial sponsors & manufacturers:
We’ve touched on several kits that have had significant merit in the past, but there has also been the revolution of kit designs that are viewed differently today with constant changes in fashion. The short shorts and normal fitted kits were the norm in the 1960s through to the 1980s, but baggy uniforms then started to become the norm. Fashion is now an important element in football, continuously evolving or revolving older trends. Our first shirt sponsor was Gulf Air that was brought to the league in the 1983/84 season. The kits that were manufactured during the early 1980s by French company Le Coq Sportif. Their first ever kit became a timeless and famed jersey to remember as their thin red and white stripes that crossed the kit horizontally. This notable kit stood out more than others especially since Chelsea donned a new badge creating a new mystique around the club. Kerry Dixon was another factor in why the kit is unforgettable to this day as he notched an impressive 193 goals during his 9-year tenure at Stamford Bridge.
The sponsors that succeeded Gulf Air were Bai Lin Tea company and Simod, an Italian sportswear manufacturer. Chelsea then signed a long-term deal with an American home computer and electronics producer, Commodore International. The Blues held much inconsistency during the 1970s and 80s as they were relegated three times during that span. A family branched out from Commodore named, AMIGA was also displayed on Chelsea kits during the early 1990s. The whole deal only lasted until 1994 due the company going debunked after 40 years of operation. This was a mediocre and forgettable period as Chelsea only managed to finish 11th and 14th in the top division for six years consecutively
Forgettable Kits in Chelsea history:
Chelsea have produced some horrible and eyesoring kits in the past, but some just go the extra mile. Fans can all agree that they’ve have had questionable color choices when it comes to Chelsea kits, including the orange and grey kit that was introduced in 1994. This kit just screams for a remake, but one thing is for certain is that it won’t be forgotten. Coors Beer company was another sponsor utilized during the 90s and its infamous orange and grey uniform reminds us that era wasn’t a pleasant time for Chelsea fans. Under player-manager Glenn Hoddle, Chelsea finished 11th in both seasons wearing that away kit, and the mediocrity on the pitch of both kit and performances symbolized the unattractiveness of the club at that time.
There are also forgettable kit designs that may be pleasing to the eye but remind us of sorrowful times. The 2015/16 kit is a good example as the kit itself was appealing and well crafted design that came with a beautiful buttoned up collar but the reputation of that specific season was not. Chelsea ended 10th in the league after coming into that season the reigning Premier League champions under Jose Mourinho. One last sample of Chelsea’s bad decision making is the 1991-93 third kit. The design itself looks like toddlers handwriting with a blue zig-zag stripe that goes across the bright yellow kit. The south western London club finished 14th in the 1991/92 season and their conspicuous third kit represented the state of club. The uniform had an accepting buttoned up blue collar with a white trim but the blue escalating graph line ruined the concept. Adidas in particular have produced an abundant amount of yellow kits that should remain hidden in in the closet such as the 07/08 away kit and 2010/11 third kit where maybe the design could’ve been finer.
The Memorable years:
Adidas will always remain special in our hearts as it symbolizes our prestigious years in English football especially during the late 2000 and early 2010s. Before we touch on the multinational German sports corporation that is Adidas, it is important to revisit our Umbro days in football. Before Chelsea became the powerhouse that is is today, Chelsea earned its horns under the Umbro brand where they won its first Premier League trophy in over 50 years in 2005. Chelsea also won the 1997 FA cup before their prominent era when they had the the gifted Italian, Gianfranco Zola playing under the Blues shirt. By the late 90s, Chelsea started to raise their game on and off the pitch, finishing in the top 6 for the first time since the 1989/90 season where they ended up 5th. The appointment of Ruud Gullit as player-manager brought Chelsea much more fortuity adding more international players to the side increasing the quality in the team. His arrival to Stamford Bridge during Coors short tenure as shirt sponsor made those kits special and memorable. Chelsea then added Autoglass as their main shirt commercial promoter in 1997 to cement a new era for the club. In this period, Chelsea managed to win the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup, League Cup and 2 FA Cups winning 5 trophies in a three year span.
These late 90s and early 2000s kits hold a special moment for Chelsea fans as they were on eve of greatness. After being sold to a new rich owner, the club had more future aspirations and utilized Fly Emirates as their next shirt sponsor. At the turn of the century, the baggy kits were still in fashion but the designs became more modern and simple than the flashy patterns we saw in the 90s. Jose Mourinho’s arrival to the bridge brought Chelsea to a whole new level and platform, winning them back to back titles for the first time in club history. The 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons and kits will go down in the record books as their arrival to superiority.
The Iconic Kits:
Following the UMBRO era, the Blues switched their kit manufacturer to brand icon Adidas in 2006. The Blues were already endorsing Samsung Mobile as their primary shirt sponsor until 2008, where it just became “Samsung.” The haunting memories of our 2008 defeat to Manchester United reminds us fans of the 2007/08 kit, where we unfortunately lost in penalties after drawing 1-1 following extra time. The well designed royal blue shirt with a gorgeous white collar is reminiscent to our late 90s kits, but unfortunately also brings back horrid memories to the game against Barcelona where Chelsea were unfairly managed. It also reminds us that during this moment, the Blues were a force to reckoned with in football and were one of the top teams alongside Manchester United.
This was ultimately pushed to the side when Chelsea managed to overcome all odds in their 2011/12 Champions League run. They overcame a deficit against Napoli in the round of 16 and also were able to hold off the offensive juggernauts, Barcelona in the semi-finals winning with 10 men in a final aggregate score of 3-2. That esteemed and memorable white away kit will always be a piece of treasure for decades to come after Fernando Torres guaranteed Chelsea a spot in the finals in the Camp Nou after a devastating counter attack goal. The Catalan giants thought they smelled blood once Chelsea were down to 10 men but in the process pushed so many players forward leaving their defense vulnerable and exposed. The final itself was another test of fortitude as Chelsea came in as the huge underdogs against a star-packed Bayern Munich side. The following 2012/13 kit was also another appealing design as Adidas replaced the white stripes to gold stripes to commemorate our champions league victory. A unique yet alluring design gave fans their most prized relic as it became the kit Chelsea won the holy grail.
The Nike state
In 2017, Chelsea ended their contract with Adidas six years earlier in mutual agreement and moved on to Nike as their next producer. Their first product came with positive reviews as it was done to memorialize our vintage days. A clean shade of blue that is more authentic and appeasing as previous jerseys were a lighter tone of blue. The white trim on the shorts were a excellent touch to pay tribute to our 1960s short designs where the Blues donned a similar white stripe. Yokohama Tyres has been our current sponsor since 2015, but its tenure will end this summer after Chelsea signed a deal with Three UK (British Telecommunications and Internet provider) this past January. The following kit for 2018/19 season was a disappointing approach as not much was changed only adding white and red stripes to the kit questioning Nike and their lack of creativity. The recent unoriginality from the brand certainly have taken its toll on football fans as many clubs throughout the world share the same template and ponder the question, where is the distinction? Nike designs were once viewed as illustrious creations producing memorable kits in the past, but now their current templates have been nothing but plain and repetitive. Before, each club had their own respective blueprint, but now more and more clubs share the same concept.
The current Chelsea 2019/20 home kit was intended to pay tribute to Stamford Bridge and therefore patterns from the stadium was threaded onto the fabric. The honor would’ve hold more meaning if the plans for their stadium redevelopment went through but that ultimately was put on hold. The next rumored third kit was leaked earlier last month and its safe to say fans weren’t pleased. The jersey has an almost pinkish red base color with saturated blue stripes coming down vertically that comes awful similar to Crystal Palace’s home design. The away layout was much more pleasing as a rumored light blue concept could be Chelsea’s secondary jersey for next years’ season. The club itself still hasn’t addressed these rumors and could be very all speculation from the media. Nike’s best edit has to be their special kit they produced this past January where Chelsea released a throwback model version of their 1970 kit to salute their 50th anniversary FA Cup triumph against Leeds United.
Many kits have come and gone, but some always hold a special place in Chelsea fans’ hearts. Each kit has different meanings from their own era and none will truly go forgotten. The newest shirt sponsor in Three UK company has left a lot Chelsea fans worried and anxious over the possible gigantic “Three” logo ruining the Chelsea kits design, but all of this are just opinions from the audience. We still haven’t heard any updates on the possible home design for next season’s campaign, and Nike could very well surprise us with an appealing layout. The evolution of our uniforms is quite peculiar, from the pensioner logo in the early 1900s to the golden lion in the 1980s. The transformation of our away kit has also ranged in colors adding black to our ranks in 2002. The 2012 victory in Bayern’s own backyard will be an iconic milestone for the club as it represents a moment of history. The trends and fashion might continue to change over time, but the souvenirs from the past will always be immortal.