Nottingham Forrest Shirt History
Random fact of the day: Nottingham Forest were the first football team to wear shin pads. Quite the pioneers. Let’s delve into the two-time European Cup winners’ shirt manufacturer and sponsorship history.
Nottingham Forest Shirt History - Downloadable Checklist
Nottingham Forest Shirt Manufacturer History
2023 – present – Adidas
Adidas and Forest have struck a new ‘multi-year’ agreement, but the pair are certainly no strangers to each other with them enjoying two partnerships together previously. The longest deal lasted for nine years and back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980 resulted in a lot of exposure for the German brand.
In their return campaign, Adidas have given us no surprises with the home shirt, but the away and third shirts are quite unique. The away has light blue wavy stripes across its white front, with the patterning representing the River Trent and the supporters that follow them across the country. The third shirt is navy with a creative coral pattern imprinted – the club claims it is inspired by Nottingham's sprawling network of caves which runs beneath the city.
2018 – 2023 – Macron
Macron were part of a long-awaited moment as the Reds finally clinched their Premier League return at Wembley in May 2022 with a 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town in the play-off final. For the historic moment, a classy home strip with an embossed chevron pattern that was inspired by the late 1980’s was donned. The word bold could be classed as an understatement for other kits used this campaign, with one combining navy and fluorescent pink and the other bringing bright orange and yellow together.
For their first year back in England’s top division, the Italian brand used the same concept for the home and away strip, but it can be forgiven given the arms were made up of a pattern in recognition of the ironworks on the Trent Bridge – a bridge which has been walked over by Forest fans since their move to the City Ground in 1898.
Another hit of a home strip came in 2018/19. It’s white collar, that had ‘that loving feeling’ printed on the inside of the neck, saw two red hoops running through it. The sleeve cuffs and lower shirt trim combined the same colours, while the red base was tonally striped.
In 2019, Macron released 1,979 anniversary shirts to mark 40 years since the clubs first European Cup win in 1979. On the right-hand side of the strip, all of the players who took part in the memorable campaign had their name in a tonal print. Like the shirt worn in that famous year, it was a white V-neck. Each jersey was sold in a commemorative box.
2013 – 2018 – Adidas
Within this period, Adidas produced a number of decent concepts for Forest home strips, however the two fan favourites came in 2015/16 and 2017/18, respectively. The home top in 2015/16 saw a simple red base combined with gold details in recognition of the clubs 150th anniversary season, while 2017/18 saw the return of white pinstripes which Adidas introduced to Forest jerseys in the 80’s.
The first of a few notable mentions for alternate shirts came in 2014/15 and it was a classic white away jersey with red pinstripes. The third strip from 2015/16 is another, this had a clean black base with a gold trim and sponsorship features. Finally, the away shirt donned in 2016/17 made for another interesting design with its conjoined red and white sash running across the stomach area of its black base.
1986 – 2013 – Umbro
Taking up the bulk of Nottingham Forest’s sponsorship history is Umbro with a partnership which lasted for a remarkable 27 years – and this wasn’t the first time they worked together!
The 90’s era was particularly interesting for this partnership and the away kit used from 1995 until 1997 was probably the most unique. The yellow polo had black features within its collar and a red and black graffiti style print on its chest and shoulders with the word ‘Forest’ being visible. It is definitely one subject to personal preference.
From 1996 until 1998, Umbro produced a rather different home kit that featured more black aspects than we are used to. Its base was still red, with a couple of tonal stripes showing, but running down its centre was a vertical black colour block which was phased out around the sponsorship area. Prominent black features were also added to its sleeves. ‘Nott’m Forest F.C.’ was imprinted into the fabric centrally by its lower trim. The home kit which followed this was a smart, but much more basic, central crest strip with no black involved at all.
Another central crest jersey that deserves its plaudits was the white away kit used from 1997 until 1999. It was also used as the third kit in 1999/00. The Forest emblem was placed in a red oval outlined in black and the same two colours made up two thick stripes running on its left sleeve and along the right-hand side of its base. An extra black pinstripe also ran on the outside of the red one.
Not every Umbro kit from 2000 onwards was a hit, but there weren’t too many outlandish choices either.
1977 – 1986 – Adidas
As aforementioned earlier in the article, Nottingham Forest were remarkably led to European Cup glory two times in a row by the late, great Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980. Therefore, the home top worn throughout that period, which was originally released in 1977, is highly fought for by Forest supporters. If you have the version with ‘European Cup Winners 1979 1980’ underneath then you are especially sitting on gold dust. It was a simple strip, with white sleeve cuffs, a white V-neck neckline and Adidas Originals branding.
The home strip worn from 1984 until 1986 was also impressive. It was a centre crest jersey with small imprinted horizontal stripes hooping around it. Unusually for Adidas, they placed their branding on its sleeves.
1976 – 1977 – U-Win
The U-Win home strip had a red and white striped polo collar with sleeve cuffs to match. The away shirt was yellow with a solid blue polo collar and a white vertical stripe, outlined by blue, running through the crest area.
1973 – 1976 – Umbro
Umbro were the first manufacturing partner of the Nottingham club and bar a couple of colour changes, they followed the same, classy concept for all three seasons.
Nottingham Forest Shirt Sponsor History
The City Ground was subject to a lot of change in 2023/24 with a new manufacturing partner and a new front of shirt sponsor, so let’s take a more in-depth look at who they have struck deals with over the years…
2023 – present – Kaiyun Sports
Kaiyun Sports is a new Asian digital sports platform that also works alongside some of Europe’s elite football clubs, such as Real Madrid and Inter Milan.
Their feature includes a large K that loops around a football next to the word Kaiyun and their URL ‘kaiyun.com’. The phrase ‘one or the other’ springs to mind when you look at it initially – it isn’t necessarily an eyesore, but if it just read ‘Kaiyun’ or ‘Kaiyun.com’ then it would be improved tenfold.
January 2023 – Summer 2023 – UK for UNHCR
As the club didn’t have a corporate front of shirt sponsor for the 2022/23 campaign, they agreed a charity partnership with UK for UNHCR, a UN Refugee Agency, which began in January 2023 and ran until the end of the season. UK for UNHCR aims to support relief efforts for people fleeing conflict and persecution around the world. As well as raise awareness, Forest also made a financial donation towards the cause.
2021 – 2022 – BOXT
Award winning company, Boxt, offers unique digital solutions to home boiler buying and installation. For a year they partnered with the Reds and their feature was simply ‘BOXT’ in a thin, but large text.
2019 – 2022 – Football Index
Football Index was the world’s first football stock market that allows traders to buy and sell shares in professional footballers with real money – it was labelled by many as revolutionary. However, Forest reportedly ditched the company due to the website going into administration and having their gambling license removed. This is a controversy that some Football Index customers are allegedly still fighting to this day.
2018 – 2019 – Betbright
Betbright was an online sports betting company based in Dublin that was coincidentally bought out in March 2019 by their Forest shirt sponsor predecessors 888 Sports. Their slot was taken up by a simplistic text feature.
2016 – 2018 – 888 Sports
International sports betting brand, 888 sports, took over the Forest jerseys for two campaigns and it was a partnership that saw a number of initiatives for supporters, including subsidised away travel. Their feature was a little large and bold, but with perks like discounted away travel resulting from it, fans wouldn’t have complained.
2013 – 2016 – Fawaz Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning
Somewhat controversially, the Reds were sponsored for three seasons by Fawaz Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning – a company owned by then chairman, Fawaz Al Hasawi.
For a brand that has such a long name, they did extremely well not to make either of their features come across as too over-facing, although the large F concept used in the first year isn’t that attractive.
2012 – 2013 – John Pye Auctions
John Pye Auctions’ website claims that they are the UK’s leading commercial auction house network. It was a nice and easy feature that saw the name ‘John Pye’ printed boldly above the word auction.
2009 – 2012 – Victor Chandler
The interesting, elegant text of online bookmaker and gaming company Victor Chandler appeared for three years from 2009.
2003 – 2009 – Capital One
The recognisable branding of Capital One, a financial corporation, took the central slot limelight for six years. The uncomplicated nature of it makes it a good choice for football shirts.
1997 – 2003 – Pinnacle Insurance
Pinnacle Insurance partnered with the club for six seasons prior to Capital One and their branding had a little more to it with their blue logo, but it was done at a reasonable size and by no means overpowering.
1992 – 1997 – Labatt’s
Labatt Brewing Company headquarters in Canada and they shared the jerseys with Shipstones until 1994. From then, Labatt’s simple text feature appeared on all of the strips until the end of the partnership.
1987 – 1994 – Shipstones
Nottingham based brewery Shipstones had the honours for a period of time from 1987 and throughout this time frame they used two versions of their branding. One was simply ‘Shipstones’ with ‘fine beers’ underneath it in a more italic text and the other was ‘Shipstones’ with a small version of their logo above it – both were fine.
1986 – 1987 – Home Ales
Home Ales is reportedly one of Nottingham's most famous beers and it dominated the city for a long period of time along with rivals Shipstones – the brewery they lost their sponsorship feature to!
1984 – 1986 – Skol
Skol is a lager that was developed in central Scotland. It’s logo usually has an arrowed O and it would have been cool to see this feature on the Forest strip, but unfortunately it didn’t.
1982 – 1984 – Wrangler
Wrangler is an American fashion manufacturer known for producing jeans and workwear. They opted for a text feature that was smaller font size than most of the others, but it did mean that the shirts features came to the forefront.
1980 – 1982 – Panasonic
Japanese multinational electronics company, Panasonic, offered the club their first ever front of shirt sponsor deal – straight off the back of the clubs first piece of European success.
Umbro and Adidas have dominated much of Nottingham Forest’s manufacturing history, so for nostalgia reasons it is lovely to see them partner again with Adidas and it would be even better to see them return to Umbro some day in the future. On the other hand, their history with front of shirt sponsors has been quite the opposite, with the club flying through a whole host of them and unfortunately not without any controversy.