When, on Saturday evening, England ran on the pitch at Wembley they looked sharper than they have, well, probably ever.
The reason was that Umbro, who supply the team kit, have worked a fair bit harder on the new strip than usual. With the help of Royal College of Art graduate and third-generation tailor Charlie Allen the uniform has been revolutionised. Allen’s two main ideas – to make the clothes fit and look good - were surprisingly novel in the world of football kits.
“I wanted to get the whole team looking immaculate,” he tells Esquire. The first was achieved by fitting each England player separately, “Each player was measured and fitted for his own shirt,” Allen recalls, so each one has his own unique pattern. The shorts have individual waist, hip and length measurements and the shirts are just as particular - not only are chest sizes unique, but so is shoulder width and sleeve length - and are defined by the collar, which is constructed in two pieces as on a decent shirt. Allen also cleaned up the graphics and insisted on a fabric blend that’s 20% cotton because, according to him, “It gives it a bit more of a tactile feel and it has a matte finish.” Unsurprisingly, the £50 replica shirts aren’t available on a bespoke basis for the likes of us but they do at least come in proper chest sizes.