Up to

50% Off

at Nike

all links

Search Icon
Close Search Icon

Authentic vs. replica football shirts: what's the difference?

Authentic and replica shirts look similar, but there are clear differences between them. We’re here to tell you everything.
Author Image of Kevan Thorpe


one year ago


authentic vs replica football shirts whats the difference

There’s always a new season starting somewhere. It’s great.

Incredible new football shirts drop left, right and centre before each league and international season. And we’re here to ogle every last thread.

But there’s a complication that’s recently been added when buying the latest kits, and it’s around authentic vs. replica options.

Leading manufacturers are now producing two (sometimes three) different price points for customers. It can be confusing.

We’re here to demystify the whole process, giving you straight facts about the difference between authentic and replica jerseys.

If you’re unsure on which to buy, read on and we’ll help you figure it out.

Let's start with the basics in clearly defining each type of shirt for you...

Shop football shirts >

What is a replica football shirt?

replica adidas italy football shirt 2023 in blue
Image from adidas.

The term ‘replica football shirt’ means they are a mass produced version, more suitable for fans and supporters to wear at home and in the stands.

These football shirts are made with cheaper materials, embroidered badges and often have a more relaxed fit.

What are authentic football shirts?

authentic player issue adidas italy football shirt 2023 in blue
Image from adidas.

As you’d expect, authentic football shirts are produced for the professional players themselves. This is why they’re sometimes referred to as ‘player issue’.

The materials are of the highest quality, lightweight with heat-printed badging. The fit is more slim and athletic.

Are replica football shirts fake?

professional wearing japan 2023 shirt in pink
Image from adidas.

Replica football shirts that are produced by official manufacturers and brands are not fake. But be aware, the term ‘replica’ is sometimes used by fake jersey sellers too.

It makes sense to buy replica shirts from reputable retailers. We ONLY show prices from these online stores on our site, no fakes here.

Shop replica shirts >

Are authentic football shirts worth it?

professional player wearing sweden 2023 shirt in blue
Image from adidas.

Authentic or player issue kits are worth every penny, if you’re looking for the finest quality and lightweight materials around.

Even if you aren’t a professional player, an authentic shirt can improve your experience on the pitch thanks to its sweat-wicking tech, stylish fit and airy feel.

Shop player issue shirts >

Authentic vs. replica football shirts: what’s the difference then?

authentic italy 2023 home shirt next to replica 2023 italy home shirt both in blue
Authentic version (left) and replica version (right). Images from adidas.

They may look incredibly similar on the surface, but there are huge differences between authentic and replica football shirts.

Authentic shirts are worn by the players on the pitch, while replica shirts are a cheaper option produced for fans to wear at home. Simple.

However, you may be confused by what these differences actually are, as it’s not immediately clear what you’ll be getting for your money.

Things will typically differ a little between brands, but you can usually tell these shirts apart by looking at five main areas: materials, embroidery, fit, name and, of course, the price.

Let’s run through what you need to look out for.

Browse latest football shirts >


adidas heat ready and adidas aero ready material italy football shirts close up
Authentic HEAT.RDY (left) and replica AEROREADY (right). Images from adidas.


Authentic football shirts feature materials and fabrics of the absolute highest quality. Plenty of research and development goes into each release.

Brands are always looking for ways to make their shirts more breathable, lightweight and comfortable for the players out on the pitch.

By bagging an authentic ‘player issue’ shirt, you’ll be experiencing exactly the same innovative tech as the pros.

The ultimate aim of these shirts isn’t to look good (though that’s always a bonus), but to enhance player performance.

They’re designed to keep players cool, typically featuring premium fabric which keeps them as comfortable as possible on the biggest stage.

In all honesty, the technology that brands are creating today is nothing short of remarkable.


With all that said, it doesn’t mean that replica shirts feel like you’re wearing a swatch of sandpaper, and these takedown versions still boast some impressive features too.

For example, when looking at the latest adidas kits, the authentic shirt features adidas’ ground-breaking HEAT.RDY tech, but the replica version still has the impressive AEROREADY system.

However, there’s no doubt that replica shirts just don’t quite have the depth, detail or match performance of the authentic version, regardless of which brand you’re looking at.

Shop football shirts >


close up showing embroidery of authentic vs replica italy 2023 home shirt in blue
Authentic (left) and replica (right). Images from adidas.


Since they’re worn by some of the best players on the planet, every major brand wants to keep their shirts as light as possible.

This involves reducing the weight of the logos and crests on the shirt, with the likes of Nike, adidas, Puma and New Balance all using heat-pressed logos on their player issue shirts.

This means they feel smoother and more synthetic, but also involve a greater amount of care when sticking them in the washing machine.

A peeling club badge or sponsor logo is enough to bring any shirt collector to tears. We can only speak from experience.


In contrast, replica shirts tend to feature embroidered logos, and these sewn-on badges are obviously heavier and more durable.

You may also notice very slight differences to the overall design of the shirt too, with certain features tweaked to make the authentic version more breathable and, ultimately, lighter.

This could stem from the stitching pattern, the detailing on the hems and even the air circulation systems on player issue versions.

Browse football kits >


authentic vs replica italy 2023 football shirts showing fit on model
Authentic (left) and replica (right). Images from adidas.


This is probably the most important thing you need to consider when splashing your cash.

Authentic kits are built for professional footballers so, naturally, they feature a more athletic cut which will feel tighter around the body.

This isn’t necessarily a problem, but we’d always recommend going a size up when buying an authentic shirt, particularly if it’s from Puma or adidas.

The curved hem is designed to improve movement, but there’s always a chance that authentic kits will feel tight to you, especially if you’re just planning to wear it day to day.


Featuring a much looser fit, replica shirts are the best choice if you’re wearing them fashionably or casually.

They may not be as aerodynamic as the player issue shirts, but they offer a much more relaxed fit which is specifically designed for comfort.

Replica shirts are designed for the everyday football fan, especially those who aren’t interested in slim fit clothing.

View all kits >

Product Name

example of price and name differences on nike and adidas football shirts
Images from adidas & Nike.


Depending on where you’re shopping, it’s not always completely clear which shirts are authentic versions and which are replica.

The fact that brands tend to name them both a little differently certainly doesn’t help things, and shirts which are discounted can also add to the confusion.

When shopping at FOOTY.COM (and in most other cases), an authentic shirt will always have something in the product name which points it out as player issue or authentic.

For example, adidas shirts will include the word “authentic” whereas Nike use the term "player issue" (both pictured).

Every other brand that sells shirts will make sure their versions are clearly labelled, one way or another.


The word “replica” has become a bit of a dirty phrase, often used by chancers selling cheap fakes on eBay, Depop and Vinted.

Check out our guide on how to spot fake football shirts for more info, but remember, you’re always safe when shopping with reputable retailers and brands.

There’s not always cause for alarm if a shirt is labelled as “replica”. Nike opt for the phrase “Stadium” instead, but a lot of retailers will just avoid it altogether and simply list the name of the shirt.

When you see the name of the shirt and there’s nothing to indicate whether it’s authentic or replica, then it’s safe to assume that it’s a legitimate replica version.

Shop new football shirts >


authentic expensive football shirt close up showing quality of material
Image from adidas.


When new kits are first released, authentic shirts typically cost around 50-60% more than the replica versions.

For example, you can get a replica adidas team shirt for £70, whereas it will cost you around £110 to get hold of the authentic ‘player issue’ version.

Of course, prices will fluctuate and you can always shop for deals on FOOTY.COM, but even in the event of a huge price drop, authentic shirts will generally cost considerably more.

You may cringe at the price difference to begin with, but remember that this could always be a fantastic investment for a collector or fan.


It’s worth noting that, while replica shirts are cheaper than authentic, they still require a fair amount of investment.

Obviously, it would be silly of us to avoid pointing out that you can compare prices with FOOTY.COM to save some extra cash, but you probably already knew that.

Shop football shirts >


There’s no question that authentic football shirts offer superior fabrics, technology and overall quality.

However, it’s up to you to decide whether they’re worth the extra money, since the cheaper replica versions are still made to an incredibly high standard and won’t fall apart after a few wears.

Authentic shirts are the ideal choice for either those who play football in them, or avid collectors with a bit of extra cash in their back pockets.

Replica shirts, on the other hand, offer the best value for fans just wanting to show off a particular design, whether you’re heading to the terraces or sticking the match on the telly.

Where to buy replica football shirts

As we mentioned earlier, we only show replica shirts from reputable retailers on our site. No fakes, best price.

FOOTY.COM is a fantastic place to find all the best deals on the latest replica shirts. Scour every league and even international shirts too.

Shop replica football shirts >

Tagged in this article:

Author Image of Kevan Thorpe
Quintessential grassroots journeyman. I've had more "you look like Gareth Barry" comments than I have career goals.
best Liverpool kits: greatest ever LFC shirts

10 best Liverpool kits: greatest ever LFC shirts

The greatest shirts to ever grace Anfield and beyond. We’re taking a stroll through the best Liverpool kits of all time.
5 months ago


Kevan Thorpe
Rendered At: 2024-04-15T14:43:00.264Z