5 things I wish I knew before starting a football shirt collection

Let’s go back to November 2015. I had about 6 football shirts at that time but I was desperate to add more jerseys to my small collection. I did some research online and found a ‘cheap’ FC Barcelona home and Arsenal away shirt. Both shirts could be customized with any name/number and patches. I was flabbergasted, because the shirts cost me only 30 euros each. Nevertheless, there was something I didn’t know at that time: they were fake. We all have to learn things the hard way. In this post, I’m going to give you some tips for those of you who are starting a football shirt collection.

Quality over quantity

If you just started collecting football shirts, you might want to buy as many shirts in a short period of time as you can. This is completely understandable, but not the best option if you ask me. You will regret some of your purchases if you focus on quantity. The more ‘meaningless’ shirts you buy, the less fun collecting jerseys will be, in my opinion. The shirts that are part of your collection shouldn’t be numbers, but nice memories instead.

In addition to what I just said, I know collectors who buy a shirt while they are on holiday, for example. Buying shirts on holiday is a delightful way to bring a ‘piece’ of culture back to your country. Also, you get to see some stadiums while you visit the fan store to buy the shirt you want. You can maybe even book a stadium tour in order to experience what the local fans of that team experience every 2 weeks. The fact I love collecting football shirts has led me to visiting quite some cities and stadiums. Your football shirt collection will be much more fun if you focus on shirts that are special to you. Not every collection has to be big in order to be impressive, it’s all about the quality.

Cheap shirts are not a goal per se

It goes without saying that finding a nice and cheap shirt is a good addition to your collection. Sometimes, you can find a jersey in good condition with name, number and patches in your size for like 20 euros. Especially for those of you who check out websites like eBay for example, where many football shirts are sold every day. Nevertheless, I always feel like buying shirts that are a bit more expensive are definitely worth it. I’m talking about ‘complete’ shirts with name, number and patches. These type of kits tend to be a bit more expensive in general, because of the added items I just mentioned.

Personally, I like to collect shirts with name and number. This gives me the feeling that I collect football shirts instead of normal ‘blank’ shirts. But then again, this is just my opinion. Also, player version shirts with smoother material are more expensive. I’m a fan of Nike Vaporknit shirts, because the quality is amazing, even when wearing them. Buying expensive shirts means that you maybe have to save some money before you can add them to your collection. However, the moment an expensive shirt comes through the mail is definitely worth the wait and your money!

Priorities are key

Setting specific goals when starting a football shirt collection will really help you. I bought one of my first Dortmund shirts in January 2015 because I really like die Schwarzgelben. I’ve been collecting Borussia Dortmund shirts ever since, and I can say that this team has an important place in my collection. Collecting shirts from the team you support is a perfect way to start off. Some collectors and football shirt fans say they would never buy any other team’s shirt. It really comes down to your preferences. I know some collectors who focus on match worn PSG or FC Porto shirts. Their entire football shirt collection is based on their favorite team. I have got to admit that I love to see that passion for one club. Nevertheless, I’m not a die-hard fan of any team, so I like to collect from any team basically. You just have to decide for yourself what teams you like and what teams you’d never get a shirt from.

An alternative is to collect shirts of one specific player. I’m sure we all have one or more favorite football players (Kylian MbappĂ© in my case). It would be really nice to get a few different shirts (different seasons, home/away/third) with the name of your favorite player on it. Some collectors basically only collect Lionel Messi shirts from all seasons and all teams he played for. This kind of collections can be very impressive if you manage to collect all the shirts a player wore during his career.

Always double check the authenticity

Nowadays, fake shirts look very good. Unofficial used to look terrible and cheap 12 years ago. When I bought my first football shirt (Ronaldinho FC Barcelona) in 2009, you could instantly tell it was fake. By contrast, unofficial shirts have become better and better over the last years. About 8 years ago, people started buying football shirts on websites like Aliexpress. These shirts had the exact team crest and brand logo on them, which made them look official. Fake shirts have even become better since then. This is an advantage for people who don’t want to spend much money on shirts because they wear them while playing football. On the other hand, this trend makes it harder for football collectors to recognize fake shirts. Luckily, there are some techniques to know whether a football shirt is authentic or not. Every technique is different for each brand.

Be careful when wearing them

It goes without saying that you want to keep your shirts in the best possible condition. It’s very tempting to wear them when playing football, for example. If you don’t want your shirts to get dirty or get damaged, I dissuade you from wearing them. I often tell people that I don’t even wear my football shirts, which surprises them. Many collectors wear their shirts anyway, which I understand. Nevertheless, if your shirt gets dirty or stained, it’s hard to wash it without damaging the material or name set. You should really think twice before you start wearing football shirts that are part of your collection in my opinion.

Where to buy your football shirts?

There are many online football shirt stores where you can buy your shirts. From the moment I started my collection, Classic Football Shirts has been one of my favorite stores. They got a great variety of both modern and retro shirts. Besides that, they are honest about the condition of the shirt, and they only sell original shirts. Worldwide shipping is a possibility too.

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