A Culture of Kits by John Blair – Book Review

a culture of kits book review

By Steve Crabtree

Football kits have always been more than just sportswear; they are icons of football culture. And, as a huge fan of retro football kits with over 60 shirts in my collection dating back to the 70s, a book about football kit culture is right up my street.

So, I was pleased I was picking up the substantial A Culture of Football Kits by John Blair. In doing so, I was holding nearly 300 pages of a definitive guide to classic football shirt collecting. Inside, readers are taken through various snippets of the evolution and significance of these beloved garments, and it’s been put together as a timely tribute to the growing trend of football shirt collections.

A Culture Of Kits

“Football kit evolution”

The book is heavily illustrated with fantastic images – something I really appreciated! This makes it nigh-on impossible not to do that flick-through thing!

The book delves deep into the world of predominately 90s classic football kits, with nods to the 70s, 80s, and some modern designs. And some superb sections tell you why shirt collectors do what they do. One chapter gives you a rundown on the stuff you don’t even think about, as to why a collector would add a shirt to their collection. Has there been controversy courted in that shirt? Does it have a unique sponsor? (Wet Wet Wet sponsored Clydebank in the 90s, and the jersey is in there). Plus, all the milestones created in a shirt, and how scarce they are all contribute to a shirt’s value.

Another chapter delves into the stories behind iconic shirts, revealing the fascinating history and cultural significance of each design. From the patterns of the 90s to predicting future classics, Blair provides a great overview of football kit evolution.

Interestingly, it also tells how social media has fueled the rising demand for these nostalgic pieces. Especially since football’s popularity began to soar across the US and Asia.

“Engaging and well-researched”

Blair’s writing is engaging and well-researched, making “A Culture of Football Kits” an enjoyable read for enthusiasts. The book is beautifully put together, with large, clear, and colourful images spread across its 288 pages. These images are not just eye-catching but also informative, focusing on the intricate details of a shirt that collectors seek.

The images in A Culture of Football Kits are exceptional. They are large and clear, and the fact Blair takes the time to zoom right into the intricate details of certain shirts and highlight the nuances that make those kits special is something I really liked. It certainly helps you enhance your understanding and appreciation of the shirts.

What a fantastic book. I think it’s a perfect publication for existing football shirt collectors and those aspiring to join their ranks. While I, as a nostalgic football fan who grew up in the 80s, hoped for more coverage of the iconic 70s and 80s shirts, the detailed exploration of 90s shirts and the burgeoning collector’s market is sure to bring plenty of smiles to your face as you flick through its pages. Not only a well-written book but also a great choice to leave out on your coffee table so others can take a peek.

A Culture of Football Kits by John Blair is available in hardback from Pitch Publishing. RRP: £30.00


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