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Top 8 anniversary kits of 2020 - nostalgic beauty

Anniversary kits seem to be rising in popularity, but which ones are the best in a crowded field?

anniversary kits 2020

One of the defining trends of the 2019/20 season has been the rise of the anniversary kit.

Sometimes they’re called a fourth kit, sometimes they’re a commemorative or retro kit, but whatever the moniker it’s been fascinating to watch the growth of the more nostalgic kit as part of a team’s rotation.

In many ways it makes a tonne of sense. As designers continue to be pushed to churn out more and more kits each year, shirts that hark back to eras gone by are a natural area of focus. This can be particularly tempting when a team’s home, away and third kits stray more onto the experimental end of the design spectrum. An anniversary kit offers the chance to appeal a little more to a team’s core fanbase, and to attract those who prefer their kits without all the bells and whistles that the modern shirt game often provides.

With the right sort of design, you can have people willing to part with their cold hard cash even if they have absolutely no allegiance to a particular team. Anniversary kits are often some of the most sought after as a result of their more classic designs, not to mention their typically limited release numbers.

So in this growing market, which particular kits stand out? Which designs hold appeal for fans of all clubs, whilst also being grounded in some sort of reference or history with the club of the players who are lucky enough to actually wear the shirts in a match.

Here are 8 of my personal favourites this year.

8. Cagliari 2020 100th Anniversary Kit

cagliari anniversary

The hand-drawn, painted effect is a tried and tested approach in the world of kits, and in the case of Cagliari’s anniversary shirt this year we have to start with the giant two-tone cross design which adorns the body of the kit.

Crosses on Italian kits just work (think the Genoa and Inter kits of recent times that have featured a red cross on a white background), but what makes this design particularly exciting is the combination of the rugged cross with a wonderfully charming crest. In the best possible way, it looks like a playful sketch that’s been lifted straight from a notebook. It’s a design that serves as an antidote to the often sterile world of crest design, and it’s the cherry on top of a lovely kit.

7. Bayern Munich 2020 120th Anniversary Kit

Though it’s only a few weeks old (to the public at least), Bayern Munich’s squeaky clean anniversary kit already stands tall as one of the designs of the season in my book. Blackout kits are trendy to say the least (as we’ll see later on), but this design employs more a “whiteout” design with applications that blend into the shirt. I particularly like the combination of the white section and the dark red sleeves (where you’ll also find a subtle sponsor logo), and indeed the whole look is a nod to the Bayern kit of 1932, a season which delivered an all-important league title.

Though it’s hard to spot, the crest also deserves a mention. The design of the crest itself, though completely white as discussed earlier, is a real treat, closely resembling badges of the past in the club’s history.

Perhaps best of all, the kit is one of the most reasonably priced you’ll find in terms of anniversary kits, and at the time of writing it’s even still available in some stores.

6. AIK 2020 1891 ‘Behrens Edition’ Anniversary Kit

aik anniversary

AIK have carved out their own space in the collectable kit market. They were ahead of the curve with their stunning blackout kit of 2018, and they followed up that legendary effort with a further blackout kit and a celebratory white and gold shirt in 2019.

This year, they’re back with a design that features the largest crest I’ve ever seen on a modern shirt. Maybe it’s not quite as large as some of the crests you saw several decades ago, but it’s close and certainly on a completely different level to other kits in 2020. It’s far from a simple novelty too, it evokes kits from AIK’s history. And like any good anniversary kit, other details like the Nike swoosh are accommodating and distraction-free.

5. Monaco 2020 Kombat 2000 Anniversary Kit

monaco anniversary

The Kappa Kombat shirts at the turn of the millennium were some of the most important in modern football shirt history.

At the time they were notable for their stretchiness and ergonomic fit, and 20 years later it’s a look which stands tall as one of the most memorable combinations of brand and kit. I’m very excited to see Kappa create a range of special celebratory designs for some of their major clubs, and the 2020 edition of the Kombat shirt is faithful to the original whilst also retaining some modern tweaks.

This is hands down my favourite design so far in the recent Monaco x Kappa reunion, and to be honest I don’t think they’ll ever be able to top it.

4. Chelsea 2020 Fourth Anniversary Kit

Blue is the new black.

Though blackout kits are rightly popular in the shirt game today, Chelsea’s “blueout” anniversary kit has stolen the attention of shirt fans this year. Of course, the design is not simply a modern creation. The look takes direct inspiration from the Blues FA Cup-winning side of 1970, with notable similarities including the crest, sock colour and my favourite of all, the giant numbers.

Yeah, in what seems to have been something of a mini-trend amongst this list already, we’ve got some more giant details, this time on the back of the shirt. Not only are the numbers themselves giant, but there’s also a notable lack of any player names too.

I would argue that this design, for various reasons, supersedes the recent and similar France centenary shirt, which is high praise given the relatively strong reaction to the France kit.

3. Lazio 2020 120 Years Anniversary Kit

lazio anniversary

Though it does happen on occasion, it’s rare to see a team change their home shirt mid-season and then roll with a fresh design ‘till the end of the fixture list.

Sadly we may never know if Lazio were able to topple Juventus’ dominance in Serie A, but for the first few months of 2020 they were giving it an almighty good go in a throwback kit that immediately caught my eye. It’s a massive upgrade on the home kit used during the first half of the season, and not only is the design of the old-school home kit a direct reference to the Lazio shirt used between 1998-2000, Macron have even gone to the trouble of replicating the grid-like texture found on the original.

2. Dortmund 2020 110th Anniversary Kit

dortmund anniversary

I love where the kit industry as a whole is heading, but one of the frustrations I continue to find is the saturation of leaks.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be super helpful (especially from an editorial perspective!) to have an insight into kits that are several months away from release, but as a consequence many official launches feel a little bit underwhelming to me. One of the most surprising kits this year though came courtesy of Borussia Dortmund, who dropped their blackout anniversary kit with no prior marketing.

The buzz around the shirt was palpable, not only for the surprise factor but for the beautiful blackout aesthetic, which took inspiration from the heritage the local region has in the coal and steel industries. Save for a full colour logo on the shorts, this is a stunning example of black on black on black. The effect on the pitch is pretty close to perfect in my eyes.

1. Parma 2020 AC Parmense Anniversary Kit

parma anniversary

Topping this rose-tinted list is an anniversary shirt from one of the best in the kit game: Parma.

I’m not sure exactly why, but my favourite type of shirt design is one that features horizontal bands of colour. It works in a single block like Boca Juniors, it works with multiple stripes like Sampdoria, and in this Parma anniversary design the yellow and blue bands more than hold their own too.

The look takes inspiration from the shirts of AC Parmense, a historic team who transformed themselves 50 years ago to become Parma AC. Like any strong anniversary kit, the details are what win this. The crest, a wonderful round target-like look, is strikingly simple and brilliant. All the sponsors are integrated perfectly in blue. It’s everything I like in a football shirt, and the fact there are only 400 in circulation only adds to its mystique.

Phil Delves

Grab a brew, and let's talk about subliminal geometric patterns.