Jason Davis :: Umbro – The Most Iconic Brand Of The 80’s & 90’s
Written By: dunny|
Feb 26, 2014
~~ About a week ago I got a call from my man Jason Davis, one that very quickly turned into a conversation about THE most iconic brand in the 80’s, Umbro….. This brand was THE brand that shaped a generation both on and off the field in ways none of us could’ve known or realized at the time. Beans and I have had a LONG running conversation about how influential Umbro was to the game in the United States and how it was the first ‘Soccer’ brand to have a crossover appeal.
Great stroll down memory lane…..
Let’s be honest here: The 90s were a wasteland of bad decisions. For all the amazing pop culture movements that the decade brought us—West Coast rap, alternative rock, the early days of the internet, the Simpsons, Andy Dick—there was an equal amount of hideous fads being passed off as fashion. We listened to some good music and we laughed at Adam Sandler, but we did not always look fly doing it.
Pastels. Overalls, with one side undone. All of that flannel (thanks, Seattle). Several other fads of questionable taste, including the disastrous Pegged Jean Epidemic of 1993 and whatever the hell that slap bracelet thing was all about. Growing up in the 90s meant caring a lot about what you wore but being oblivious to just how terrible it all looked. It was an improvement on the 80s, but only in the way Fred Durst was an improvement on Vanilla Ice.
But mixed in with all of the Starter jackets, braided belts, and No Fear gear were a few trends worth remembering. The 1990s gave us the real rise of sneaker culture, built on the back of the brand explosion of the 80s. The 90s put skater style into the mainstream, made bandanas a thing, turned Timberlands into a movement, and made us look cool in our Oakleys. Screw hair curtains, though. Seriously.
And Umbro. The 1990s were the height of Umbro’s popularity in the United States, and in a country that still generally viewed soccer as a communist sport played by suburbanites and watched by immigrants, the insane reach of soccer brand—and a soccer brand that was almost exclusively about uniforms—it was astounding.
Specifically, it was the shorts. Those Umbro shorts, which somehow made the transition from the pastoral fields of youth soccer to everyday casual wear, as if shiny nylon was a good look that deserved a showcase in malls and school hallways. Those Umbro shorts became such a massive hit in the U.S. that—timed with the sale of the company to an American concern—the venerable British brand responded with a line of designs just for the American market. Soon, Umbros got 90s-fied.
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