Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest blog: Umbro Shorts

Welcome back to our exciting series of Children of the 90s guest blogs! We have several pieces in the works and we are still reviewing applications, so if you are interested in contributing to Children of the 90s, shoot us an email to!

I was so excited when one of my very favorite bloggers contacted me wanting to write a guest post for Children of the 90s. For those of you who don't know Sha
nnon, she is an extremely dedicated fellow 90s enthusiast whose primary focus is a laserlike focus on the Sweet Valley series in her Sweet Valley High blog.

Long-time readers may also recognize Shannon from her contr
ibution to last year's Glamour Shot Challenge. In case you missed it, here's one of her awesome airbrushed photos from her mall session circa mid-90s:

A little about Shannon, from the SVH guru herself:

When I’m not sitting around feeling regretful about my childhood fashion choices and my forays into Glamour Shots modeling, I spend entirely too much of my free time reading and blogging about Sweet Valley books. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Be sure to check out Shannon's blog and to follow her for tons of 90s goodness. Shannon chose to wrote about a subject near and dear to many of our nostalgic hearts: Umbro shorts. Oh, the shininess.


Long ago and far away (the 1920s in England), Harold and Wallace Humphreys decided they were sick and tired of their football (and by that I mean soccer) teams looking so shabby on the field. They wanted to dress the sporting world in shiny nylon, so they started Humphreys Brothers Clothing, a name that later got shortened to Umbro. Many years passed during which Umbro outfitted England’s soccer teams, but the rest of the world didn’t care much about it. Then Americans started to play soccer, and we were delighted to learn there was already a clothing line dedicated to our favorite new pastime. In 1992, Umbro was acquired by a South Carolina company called Stone Manufacturing, and we quickly Americanized everything about it.

Umbros were super boring when we got hold of them, but we had a fierce love of neon back in the 90s – probably the last death throes of the 80s getting out of our system. So it was no surprise that those unassuming soccer shorts were soon being produced in all manner of fantastic colors. Even the logo got a splashy new look. Suddenly, Umbros were the Next Big Thing and every school age kid had to have a pair. Finally, I had something to wear with my oversized neon t-shirts!

I don’t know why my friend is holding me like a baby, but check out our Umbros!

Over the next few years, one couldn’t swing a dead cat in a school hallway without hitting at least five kids wearing Umbros. The more athletic kids – the ones who actually played soccer and had probably been wearing Umbro-like shorts for years – generally stuck to the checkerboard/solid color style. The rest of us felt no such compunction and we wore all the new and exciting designs available to us. As long as our shorts had that double diamond logo on them somewhere, we could be confident in our coolness. As has been pointed out before on this blog, there has never been a more brand-name conscious decade than the 90s. Of course, as with any other fashion trend, there were generic knockoffs to be had. These impostor Umbros were easier on our parents’ wallets, but we were pretty sure nobody would like us if we wore them.

A popular design for the serious athlete.

There were a couple of problems Umbro-wearers faced. One was that if it rained, your super awesome hot pink Umbros had a tendency to become transparent and give everyone a good look at your Power Rangers underwear. A bigger problem was that if you did anything athletic, or even if you sat down wrong, you ran the risk of showing off your undies in a more direct way. Umbros, being rather loose and made of a lightweight material, tended to ride up and give the world a pretty good view of things best left unseen. It was for this reason that some of us, myself included, took to wearing biker shorts under our Umbros.

This fellow could use some biker shorts.

These problems aside, the Umbro brand enjoyed a good few years of popularity here in the States. However, we have awfully short attention spans, and Umbro shorts soon gave way to No Fear and flannel shirts. Umbro didn’t care, though. They just went back to doing what they’d always done: creating sportswear for soccer teams. Umbro became part of the Nike family in 2008, and they’re more financially stable than ever. You can still find 90s style Umbros if you’re feeling nostalgic, and you might even be able to make some money if you happen to have any still taking up space in your closet. For instance, the gentleman below sold his pair on Etsy last June.

Don’t you want to be that cool again?

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