What a lovely thing to wake up to this morning.
At 9.00 am (yes, I had a lay-in), a DPD driver dropped off a special delivery from Lincoln City and Elite Pro Sports. After dropping news of the retro kit released yesterday, I have become one of the first people to get my hands on the actual shirts themselves. So, whilst I drink my morning tea and before the dog gets his walk, I wanted to bring you a quick review of both of them.
Firstly, the main details. Both shirts are available here to buy, £34.99 each. The first is the 1992/93 home kit, the second the yellow and blue away shirt from the 96/97 season. Both were personal favourites of mine and the originals nestle somewhere in my collection. In fact, the home shirt was only the second I ever owned – I come from a working-class family and we didn’t have money to throw at replica kits between 86 and 94 (my early years supporting City), so this shirt has a real special place in my heart. Yes, I want to like it, if that’s what you’re asking. Luckily, I do.
One question I’ve already been asked is around sizing, so I’ll try to help out. I am almost 16 stone, with a bit of a belly, and the XXL fits nicely. It’s not baggy by any means, but it is certainly a fit comparable with XXXL in the official kit. If I were you, I would take your Errea shirt size and knock one size off it.
Initially, opening the kits is a big thrill. Starting with the home shirt, I suppose the first thing you notice is the differences to the original. That’s obvious, a shirt now is a remake that looks to emulate, not replicate. The material is much the same as the retro shirts from last season, so it’s a nice, silky finish that is different from the original. I also noticed an Imp printed inside the collar, a nice little touch that ties the old and new together.
It terms of style, the shirt is almost identical and a lot of love has gone into emulating the original. The collar is a very similar material to 92/93 and even the pattern on the shoulder is almost spot on. I will give credit where it is due, this isn’t a rushed item looking to make a quick buck, there has been a lot of thought put in. Fans from that era will know there was a swirly design in the material too, which is included which I really like.
The most impressive thing for me is the badge. It is embroidered on and is almost identical to the original. I really liked this badge, simplistic and yet very effective and to see it back on a shirt in full glory is a real treat. The Imp does have something of a Sid Vicious haircut if you look closely, but the badge is good quality.
One main difference is the sponsor and I suspect this is a positive, rather than a negative. Anyone who owns the original will recall the ‘Echo’ is made of plastic material, much like a baby’s wipe-clean eating mat. On this shirt, it is part of the material and therefore not going to come off in the wash.
My only slight niggle, and it could be something to do with my size, is what looks like a little rucking under the buttons on the collar in the photo above. Bear in mind, I put this one quickly for a shot and haven’t ironed, washed or worn, so I imagine that will be better either on a normally shaped man or after a wash and iron.
The second shirt also impressed me. It isn’t one I bought at the time, I had the home shirt, but I have sought it out since and paid (much) more than the £34.99 this remake will set you back. It always reminds me of the 2-2 draw at Southampton, a classic night for Imps supporters.
The same little touches are there as with the 92/93 remake, the Imp in the collar and the proud message ‘designed in the UK’. The material is the same silky finish as that of last year’s shirts, which is very different from the original, but that doesn’t take anything away from the look. This short was one I recall being huge, a baggy homage to the Madchester-style of clothing from a few year’s previous. That was 90s kits all over, wasn’t it? They were big, baggy and bold.
Well, this is bold, the colours are spot and yet it feels more like a modern kit in the fit and feel. I really like the original, but when I wear it now it feels very 90s, almost uncomfortable. This shirt, to me, feels like a modern football shirt should. Some might find that negative, I find it positive as it is more ‘wearable’ than the original.
Again, there are certain touches around this shirt that both pay homage to the original and deliver a new twist too. For a start, the ‘Imps’ logo that was woven into the shirt before is an intrinsic part of the material on this shirt. I confess, I did chat to the club months ago about these shirts and I stressed that any retro shirt had to be as faithful as possible to the original. It was an off-the-cuff chat and I didn’t know which shirt they definitely went with, but a little fear of mine was that this key part of the original would be missed. Hats off to the designer and manufacturer, they got it spot on.
Of course, the badge and the sponsor are different from the original in terms of material, but not aesthetic. The original badge was terrible for coming off in the wash, but this one is embroidered on, and it trumps the original. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it is a thing of beauty, a reimagination of a classic badge but in the style the original should have been. I said that these shirts had the potential to be like The Lemonheads Mrs Robinson, a remake of an original that is better and fresher. Well, the badge is just that, it is the badge the original should have been. As for the sponsor, again it is part of the shirt material and won’t come off.
I get that maybe those little quirks, the foamy badge and sponsor, were part of the appeal with the original, but this shirt, and the home shirt, are not intended to be the originals, They are intended to be dedicated emulations, wearable right now to games and functional for the modern fan, but paying homage to those shirts that went before. I know I’ve been given a chance to review them and therefore you think I will say nice stuff anyway, but it is heartfelt.
These are both very good shirts and, in my opinion, better than last year’s efforts. Both of those released in 2020 were great, but it is the extra detailing on these that gets me. There is more to get right, more to get wrong, and many elements that Elite Pro Sports had to work with and develop. The more flavour a meal has, the better it is, and these shirts both have a lot of mid-nineties flavour. The detailing in the material is spot on and tricky elements, such as sponsor and badge, both work really well.
If you want to see them ‘in the flesh’, be sure to tune in to Match Day Live later, where I shall strive to model one, or both, before the Wigan game.
What do you think of the retro shirt? Have your say here.