The History of the Rangers Home Kit – The Most Traditional Kit in World Football?

December 3, 2020

Rangers are one of the biggest teams in Scotland. Founded in 1872, they are the fourth oldest Scottish club and have gone on to win the League title more times than any other team, remarkable given their extended stint outside of the top-flight and financial troubles over the past decade. 

To most football fans around the world, Rangers are heavily associated with royal-blue. Red and white are also prominently involved in the kit design, often used as minor detailing. This is believed to be symbolic of their identification with the Scottish protestant and unionist communities.

Rangers debuted their first kit in 1873 and, unlike most teams, it was remarkably similar to their kit today. It featured the still famous royal-blue shirt, with white shorts and blue-and-white socks. This kit remained for a number of years, until 1879, when the club opted for a change. The white and blue colour scheme remained but the shirt was changed to a horizontal striped, or hooped, design. It wasn’t long before the kit was reverted back to the previous design, now with black socks instead of white-and-blue stripes.

The kit remained identical right through to the new century, from 1883 to 1904. Red hoops were seen for the first time at the top of the socks in the 1904-1907 edition of the kit. There was then little change for the next 50 years, as the club made small alterations to the socks, or added some white detailing, but little more.

1968 was remarkable for its integration of a badge into the kit for the first time. The badge was a stylised version of the initials RFC (for Rangers Football Club) and was positioned on the left breast of the kit, as we see today. Further adornments became far more common in this period, as the kit manufacturer and white and red detailing appeared. In 1982, the club made the first change to the body of the kit in around 100 years. Perhaps in reference to their hooped 1879-1883 edition, they debuted a pinstriped design in 1982, still using the traditional blue shirt, white shorts, and red socks that the club is known for. 

The following 1984 kit featured the club’s first shirt sponsor – CR Smith, a nationally known glazing company who also sponsored bitter rivals Celtic. The kit would then go on to stay almost identical up to the modern day. Each iteration brought minor changes to the detailing but no change to the base design. over the past few years, the design has tended to feature the classic all-blue shirt, with white shorts and black socks. The shorts commonly have blue stripes running vertically down the sides and the socks maintain the red hoops that were first seen almost 120 years ago.

It’s safe to say that Rangers currently have one of the most traditional kits in world football. Comparing their early and modern kits highlights just how little the base design has been changed. The colour scheme is identical, with royal blue shirts and white socks. The only major difference between the first ever Rangers kit and the one they currently wear is the use of black-and-red socks, rather than blue hooped seen in the first design, a tiny deviation considering the century and a half and generations of administrative teams between the two kits.

The consistency of the Rangers kit is truly remarkable in comparison to most other teams. As a point of reference, the Tottenham kit veered violently between all-navy, light-blue quartered, royal-blue quartered, bright-red, and orange and brown vertical striped designs for almost 20 years, before settling on an all-white kit. Other teams are similar to this, with the first decade or two acting as an experimental period. Remarkably though, Rangers maintained the colour from their first kit and have always been blue.

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