This section of the site is devoted to the subject that kick-started this entire project – the German national shirt, or Nationaltrikot. Following an interesting discussion of the topic at work – don’t even think of asking about the how and the why – I thought it might a interesting idea to photograph my collection of replica shirts and write a short article on each one, going back to the kit that featured in the FIFA World Cup finals in Mexico in 1986 – and the first home Nationaltrikot to feature any other colour apart from white and black.
Little did I know where this would all eventually lead.
Up to and including the 1976 European Championship finals in Yugoslavia no manufacturer’s name could be found on the Nationaltrikot, but the kit that was worn during the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina carried the logo of Erima GmbH – a company founded in the town of Reutlingen that in 1976 had become part of Adidas, the biggest supplier of equipment to the German national team since the 1950s.
The Erima shirts continued to be worn during the group phase of the 1980 European Championship finals in Italy, but the final in Rome against Belgium would see the first appearance of a new shirt – white with black trim, featuring the famous three stripes running down the shoulders. The famous Adidas “trefoil” logo was not on the 1980 shirts, which were teamed with black shorts carrying the Erima logo – a far cry from the wonderfully coordinated kit worn today.
Two years later in the World Cup in Spain Jupp Derwall’s side were kitted out in the same Adidas/Erima combination, though by now the instantly recognisable Adidas trefoil could clearly be seen on the white shirts. By the time of the European Championships held in France in 1984 the entire kit carried Adidas branding – which has been the case ever since.
The sale of replica club shirts had been popular for a number of years, but as a fan article the German Nationaltrikot had not really been heavily marketed. Unlike in England, German fans were seldom seen wearing the national shirt – even when attending a match.
There was little fanfare whenever a new kit was released, and quite often the team could be seen sporting different styles and variations of designs that were never released as officially licensed replicas for supporters. Such variations included the 1988-1992 “flag” shirt with both a round and scalloped collar, the psychedelic “Patchwork tile” design both with collar flaps and without, and an unique green “flag” shirt that saw its sole appearance in the friendly against England at Wembley in the autumn of 1991.
Although official replica versions of the iconic white “flag” shirt had been produced in fairly limited numbers during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the first strip to be outwardly marketed to supporters was the 1992 edition released ahead of the European Championships in Sweden. Someone at the DFB had clearly spotted the marketing and promotional potential, and from that point on a newly-designed Trikot would be released every two years to coincide with the next upcoming major international tournament.
With the Nationaltrikot now being marketed as a fashionable garment, a number of innovative new features were added: the national colours – quietly introduced in the 1986 design in the form of a very subtle collar trim – were incorporated into a series of stylish and modern designs, while other additions such as stylised eagles and DFB logos were added to give the designs a more unique look and feel. Gone also were the random variations in overall design and style: from 1992, what the supporters wore in the stands largely reflected what the players were wearing on the pitch.
The standard white/black and green/white colours that had been the accepted standard for many years were also subjected to a number of changes, and in just over a decade the Nationalmannschaft would be seen on the pitch in different shades of green and even charcoal grey, black and red.
While up until the early 1990s it had been fairly rare to see armies of German supporters clad in the famous Schwarz und Weiß, by the time of the 2006 World Cup finals nearly every other football-loving person on the streets of Germany could be seen wearing a replica shirt. Young children could be seen in specially-made versions of the Nationaltrikot, and even the wives and girlfriends of the players sitting in the stands were supplied with the official team colours.
Fuelled by the same sense of national pride and optimism that had encouraged many Germans to reclaim and display the national flag, the Schwarz und Weiß phenomenon quickly swept across the country. Today the release of every new kit design is now seen as a media event in itself, with the big reveal often taking the form of a fashion parade with the players themselves taking a march down the catwalk in front of the cameras.
In 2007 the American sportswear firm Nike would offer the DFB a figure way beyond that offered by Adidas to design and market the Nationaltrikot, but this was rejected as the existing contract was extended until 2018. Just before the European Championships in 2016, the deal was extended to 2022. Gott sei dank.
The Nationaltrikot from 1986
1986-1988: A Sliver of Colour »
1988-1992: Der “Klassiker” »
1992-1994: The “Chevrons” »
1994-1996: The “Chess Board” »
1996-1998: The “Shield and Stars” »
1998-2000: Horizontal and Vertical »
2000-2002: Classic look, not so classic team »
2002-2003: Back to Basics. And Grey. »
2003-2005: Three Colours Red »
2005-2007: Modern yet Simple »
2007-2009: Horizontal and Vertical Mk. II »
2009-2011: A Space-Age Odyssey, and Back to Black »
2011-2013: Retro Classics »
2013-2015: A Break with Tradition »
2015-2017: Traditionally Urban »
2016-2017: Watermarked Retro Chic »
2017-2019: Back to the Future, again »