I don’t know about you, but I’m proud to be English this week.
At the time of writing, we are just hours removed from a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of a supreme Italian side, but despite the pain I’m taking comfort in the fact that we have been privileged enough to witness an England team who we could all believe in. No loss can take that away.
Moving away from events on the pitch, I enjoyed seeing everyone get involved in the shirt side of things. Major tournaments always coincide with a surge of interest in kits, and many of the best shirts of Euro 2020 (England’s home included) proved extremely popular.
Unfortunately however, fakes only seemed to gain greater traction as the weeks went on. For starters, there simply weren’t any official shirts available by the time people wanted to get involved. Others were put off by the price of genuine shirts, whilst some didn’t know how to tell the difference between a genuine football shirt and a counterfeit one.
I don’t want to spend this article talking about the pros and cons surrounding fake shirts, but if you are keen to avoid buying a fake, what sort of things should you look out for? Specifically, how do you avoid a fake England football shirt, with so many floating about at the moment?
As we’ve been doing in all our fake shirt articles, I’ve drawn on various members of the community for help with this piece. Many of the pictures have been provided by fellow collectors like you and me, and a huge thanks to those who contributed.
What are retro remakes? Are they fake?
Just before we jump into some picture comparisons for fake vs real England shirts, a word on retro shirts or retro remakes.
Many people assume that any England shirt without a manufacturer logo is a fake, but this isn’t the case. The vast majority of fakes actually have a manufacturer logo, but we’ll speak more about that shortly.
Retro remakes are a fantastic alternative for many people who understandably don’t want to fork out 3 figures on a vintage shirt. After all, who wants to spill a pint down a 1990 home shirt with original printing? Retros are available from a range of sources, including dedicated companies and even official team outlets, and though some look down on them I’m personally a big advocate given how much of a gap they fill in the market.
Crest – Three (four) lions on a shirt
In one sense I could keep this particular section quite short. If you see too many or too few lions on the crest of an England shirt, it’s a fake.
To expand a little further, when trying to identify if an England shirt is genuine the crest is a key area to check. Like most crests in football, the famous three lions badge has had a handful of iterations over its long history. It sounds obvious, but the best thing to do compare with pictures of genuine shirts, paying close attention not only to the lions themselves but the rose details (which have also changed in look over the years).
For some fakes like the one below, you can spot the crest is fake not only because of the crest itself, but also the surrounding area of the shirt. The red stripe seen between the “England” portion of the crest and the three lions shield is an indicator of a fake, unlike the genuine 2002 home shirt seen above which is white between those areas.
We now have the added wrinkle of monochrome England crests to consider, with the latest away shirt (never used for the Euros) making use of an all-red version of the three lions crest. Again though, check official pictures or pictures of shirts you know are real to verify anything you’re looking at.
Alongside the crest (or, in the case of the current England home, below the crest) is the manufacturer logo. This is another important area which you need to check, and the more you see pictures of Umbro diamonds and Nike swooshes the better you’ll be at spotting if a brand mark is real or not.
To refer back to our comments on remakes, if a shirt doesn’t have a manufacturer logo, check other labels to make sure the shirt is a licensed rerelease (i.e. a product from a company like Score Draw). Any shirt which has no manufacturer logo but is posing as a genuine Umbro, Nike etc. shirt is a clear fake.
Sometimes the differences between genuine and fake brand marks are very subtle, like the pictures above. Both are fake shirts, but in practice the manufacturer logo or crest don’t immediately give the fake away. The fake on the left does a slightly better job than the one on the right, but for examples like these you’d need to look at the product codes (see below).
If the crest and manufacturer logo haven’t been conclusive, the product code will always seal the deal.
You’d think fakers would simply mimic the correct product code for the shirt they’re producing, but for whatever reason the product code (seen on the internal labels of the shirt) is an area every fake will fall foul of.
Simply search the code (6 digits followed by a dash and 3 digits) found on the small, square label underneath the main internal label and see what shirts you get on the results page. Anything other than the England shirt you’re looking for is an immediate red flag.
The first two pictures from the above shows are taken from real shirts, whilst the bottom picture is from a fake England football shirt.
A note on England shirts from the Umbro days. For unknown reasons, the product code on Umbro-era England shirts does not return results as with the more modern Nike shirts. For Umbro shirts, you’ll have to rely on application details or name and numbers.
Name and number
England have had some absolutely fantastic namesets across many of their shirts, and people are often keen to add their heroes to the back of their shirts not least because of memorable World Cup or Euros runs.
Be aware though, if a nameset is particularly shiny or creased you’re almost certainly looking at a fake England football shirt. Genuine shirts may have legitimately creased numbers due to improper storage, but numbers that are completely creased on a ‘BNWT’ shirt are a warning flag.
Jock tags or authenticity tags, seen on the lower front of most shirts, are another area to check.
If the code on the tag returns results of shirts, be warned. These codes are unique, unlike the product codes discussed previously, so you don’t want to see any shirts after a quick search, even the same shirt the tag is attached to.
In practice, jock tags on a fake England football shirt (like the tag above) will return multiple different shirts and will be easily identifiable as a counterfeit on this basis. But don’t be thrown if you see images of the shirt the fake is trying to be, no results (like the tag below) is good news in this area.
In the build up to the 2022 World Cup next year, expect to see a lot of fake England kits sneaking on to marketplaces like eBay and Depop. When they do, be sure to take time to review the various areas of the shirt, most notably the product codes, before jumping in headfirst.