Paris Saint Germain has a relatively short history after their founding by a group of Paris-based businessmen with the aim of creating a major sporting force within the French capital in 1970.
For this reason, PSG did not need adopt the jersey colors (and in some cases the actually jerseys) of another local club or work around some of the rudimentary factors related to jersey production at the start of the 20th century.
By the time the six-time Ligue 1 champions stepped onto the pitch, soccer jerseys had already undergone several technical advancements. Gone were the cheaply-made, heavy cotton tops and the accompanying shorts that were cut below the knee. By 1970, lightweight materials were beginning to be pioneered and would, by the end of the decade, be widely used, as shirt sleeves grew shorter and the general fit of the tops a little more snug.
PSG’s initial kit was all red and manufactured by French sports specialists Le Coq Sportif, who famously also produced the iconic green St-Étienne jerseys of the same era.
They changed to wearing their now familiar colours of blue, red and white in 1972. The blue and red said to represent the colors of the city while the white was chosen to symbolise the club’s connection to the nearby Saint-Germain-en-Laye area.
The club’s crest also changed that year with the original simple blue soccer ball with a red ship in the centre exchanged for a new design which incorporated a red depiction of the Eifel Tower on a blue background. A similar variation of this crest has been used ever since, with the exception of four years during the mid-1990s when a gaudy and brash design which was simply the club’s initials in big red and blue letters was used.
In addition to changing the basis for the jersey design in 1972, PSG also sported their first shirt sponsorship the same year, emblazoning the name and logo of the Montreal supermarket chain across their players’ midriffs.
The general layout of the PSG’s shirt as we know it was conceived by fashion designer Daniel Hechter, who came up with the design upon becoming president of the club. He later admitted that Ajax, who were the best and most successful club in Europe in the early-‘70s, were the inspiration for his shirt — he simply swapped the white of the Dutch club out for blue, while leaving the wide, central stripe red – et voilà!
The Parisian side wore white for their away shirt until 1982, at which point then-president Francis Borelli decided that the secondary kit should become PSG primary option, and for 12 years the white design became the home jersey. During this period, Hechter’s blue and red design was relegated to the away jersey role.
Whether or not the shirt switch was a catalyst can be debated, but PSG won their first major trophy shortly after, picking up the in Coupe de France that year, earning entry into the now-defunct continental competition the Cup Winners’ Cup.
The following season Les Parisens retained the domestic trophy as well enjoying an impressive run to the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup in their first foray into Europe.
Then, just three years later, PSG became champions of France for the very first time. Within four years of swapping their home and away jerseys, the club had transformed into one of French football’s major players.
Although the Hechter design was brought back in 1995 – the same year PSG, with the likes of George Weah and David Ginola amid their ranks, made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League – there have been some variances from the layout of the jersey in recent years, with a thinner red stripe often being employed (sometimes off-set from center) and white being almost completely removed from the shirt some seasons.
The 2016/17 jersey on display at the Parc des Princes is perhaps the biggest departure from the Hechter layout since its reintroduction, with the thin central stripe now a deep burgundy rather than the usual vibrant red.
With the backing of their Abu Dhabi-based owners, the iconic colors of PSG, with all the tweaks that they have undergone, are sure to remain front-and-center when major trophies are being handed out for years to come.
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