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So when did warm up kits become more important than match kits?

09:15 GMT+3 30/07/2022
Pedri Barcelona 2022-23
When it comes to pre-match jerseys, the bolder the better 👕

The amount of time that a pre-match kit is on the pitch is tiny. Players run onto the pitch in them, sometimes covered by bibs, before going through their warm up and last-minute drills. By the time the main match begins, the pre-match kits are long gone, replaced by the recognisable colours of the home, away or third shirts.

Nowadays, though, pre-match kits have become an important part of the kit collection. Brands and clubs often take more risks with the designs, utilising the team’s final preparations as a chance to market an entirely different version of the club colours.

Check out all the 2022-23 pre-match shirts released so far

  • pre-match shirts 2022-2

    What is a pre-match kit?

    Some call it a pre-match shirt, others call it a warm-up kit, but the name gives away what it is. There’s always been an obvious need for them – literally as something for the players to warm up in – and traditionally they’ve stuck to tried and tested designs. In recent years, though, they’ve become home to some of the most experimental patterns and designs, quietly becoming even more impressive than the kits themselves.

    For the upcoming 2022-23 season, that trend is set to continue. Barcelona’s looks like a glitch in the Blaugrana matrix, Liverpool’s, fittingly, is made up of a “You’ll Never Walk Alone” graphic, and PUMA clubs including AC Milan and Manchester City will all wear one covered in about six different patterns. 

  • pre-match kits england nigeria

    When did things change?

    A possible turning point was the 2018 World Cup, when Nike released a collection of all-time classics to be worn while running between cones and doing your stretches. One of the stand-outs from that tournament was England’s shirt – which mixed a white base with a red and blue graphic – while Nigeria’s turned heads with its “NAIJA” logo and green and white pattern.

    Since then, pre-match kits have gone from strength to strength. These designs, and how they are marketed, allow clubs to essentially create a lifestyle-focused product, extending the season’s kit collections. In many ways, they serve a similar purpose to fourth kits, which adidas’ Iñigo Turner described as “a space where we can explore with more creative freedom” in a recent interview.

  • Arsenal 2021:22 pre-match shirt

    Why are they so popular?

    One of the best examples of the pre-match kit’s versatility is Arsenal. Some of their classics include the Transport for London-themed kit last season, or the pink and dark grey camouflage design they wore, or even the collaboration with Stella McCartney. All three of these pre-match jerseys were worn by Arsenal during the course of the 2021/22 season, highlighting another key benefit of pre-match kits.

    Whereas home, away and third shirts are regulated by the league’s rules on everything from design to how many can be worn, pre-match kits have fewer constraints, allowing brands and clubs space for collaborations and special releases.

  • adidas x Humanrace

    What are some of the most famous pre-match kits?

    It's hard to look beyond adidas’ five club collaboration with Humanrace. Some of the brand’s biggest clubs – Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid – all received special-edition kits designed by Humanrace founder and adidas collaborator Pharrell Williams.

    As well as pushing the boundaries of kit design, the collaboration also showed how the league by league and country by country rules were applied. Of the five clubs, only Bayern Munich and Juventus were able to wear the designs competitively. For the other three clubs, they were worn as pre-match kits instead.

  • Fiorentina / Venezia FC pre-match shirts

    Which clubs have designed the best for 2022-23?

    As well as the previously mentioned kits from Barcelona, Liverpool, AC Milan and Manchester City, a string of other clubs have gone big for this season. adidas has followed a formula for its biggest clubs this season, as Manchester United (black and red), Real Madrid (white and purple) and Bayern Munich (a slightly different black and red) all sport diagonal stripes.

    Another highlight is the graphic pattern covering Chelsea’s effort, while Fiorentina’s is covered with pink and purple squares. Unsurprisingly, the cult kit aficionados at Venezia have released an instant classic of the genre, with a black green and gold checkerboard pattern across the entirety of the kit.