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Umbro 100

Sportwear x Fashion

Exhibition catalogue

Published to coincide with an exhibition Umbro 100: Sportswear x Fashion staged by the Westminster Menswear Archive, this stunning catalogue includes over 120 garments featured in the exhibition, all captured in full colour imagery, allowing readers to explore the evolving relationship between sportswear and fashion.

Designers featured include Kim Jones, Aitor Throup, Aries, Palace, Paul Smith, Vetements, Supreme, ALMOSTBLACK, Bikkembergs, Eliminator, Philip Treacy, Slam Jam, Factory Records, FORESOMEONE, Peter Saville, Patta, Off-White, John Smedley, Nigel Cabourn, Christopher Raeburn, Rowing Blazers, NOWHERE FC, Gio Goi, Hanon, House of Holland, KANGHYUK, New Order, Numerals, Sweet Sktbs, R. Newbold, Pretty Green, and N.HOOLYWOOD.

Over the last century, sportswear has evolved from its functional, athletic, and sporting roots to become the daily uniform for billions of people around the world. Founded in 1924, Umbro has been central to this revolution. Today collaborations between sportswear companies and fashion brands are the norm, but Umbro’s collaboration with Paul Smith in 2002 marked the beginning of this trend. Since then, Umbro has collaborated with over 60 different designers and brands including Kim Jones, Paul Smith, Vigil Abloh, Peter Saville, Christopher Raeburn, Supreme, Nigel Cabourn, Aitor Throup, Palace and Vetements.

The catalogue begins with two distinct timelines: 1924-2002 and 2002-2024. The first, which runs from 1924 to 2002, depicts Umbro's humble beginnings in a pub in Mobberley, Cheshire, and its rise to global prominence in sportswear. While the second, between 2002 to 2024, charts the rise of drop culture through a succession of collaborations between Umbro and a range of international designers and brands.

The second half of the catalogue is divided into five sections, Manchester, England, Tailored, Replica and Diamond.

Manchester explores the company’s beginnings in 1924 which coincided with the completion of Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium in 1923, and the explosion of football as a spectator sport amongst the working class. It examines how Umbro has consistently combined textiles, sport, and style—three things synonymous with Manchester—in order to build and evolve their business.

The next section focuses on England, and the deconstruction of the England shirt, first through an examination of Kim Jones’ use of the Tudor rose, then through Christopher Raeburn’s deconstruction of historical kits, and finally through Peter Saville’s reimagined St Georges cross, which came to symbolise a more inclusive modern England.

The Tailored section looks at how sportswear has been ‘Tailored by Umbro’ over the last 100 years to allow the sporting body to perform at its best. Structured around six of the archetypical Umbro garments chosen by Aitor Throup for his Archive Research Project in 2011, this section explores how these classic garments have evolved through the work of various fashion designers.

Replica investigates how, in contrast to fashion, which celebrates the individual, sportswear functions as a uniform, uniting both teams and spectators through the use of design, colour, and graphics. The development and use of template designs has enabled the continuation of a strong visual identity that can be modified over time to create both familiarity and uniqueness.

Finally, Diamond explores the evolution of branding as it moved from the inside to the outside of garments in both sportswear and fashion. Umbro's iconic diamond logo has been a part of their brand identity since at least 1934, but until the 1970s, it was primarily used on labels inside sports garments. As sporting regulations changed, conspicuous  branding became fashionable, and this trend continued with Umbro’s later design  collaborations.  

Umbro 100: Sportswear x Fashion
12 April  – 28 April 2024
Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS

Free admission. Open 11am-7pm every day.

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