There are some teams, like Bayern Munich and Germany and to a lesser extent Real Madrid and Benfica, who are what we might term eternallly adidas (a phrase coined by Kit Nerd, we’re taking ‘eternally’ to mean the slighter shorter ’20 years or more’ – it would have been a longer list but for recent defections by AC Milan and Marseille to Puma, Schalke to Umbro and Anderlecht’s impending move to Joma).
By the same token, other sides, are the opposite in that they are eternally non-adidas – Internazionale, Borussia Dortmund (though they once were), Manchester City (though New York City’s shirts provide a what-if glimpse) and Paris St-Germain.
While Arsenal were central to Nike’s rise as a kit-maker in the UK, PSG and Dortmund were the American firm’s original big European contracts, after a brief spell with Sunderland in the mid-1980s. The French club have worn the swoosh since 1989 – though, funnily enough, they came in after a forgotten three-year PSG partnership with adidas.
However, PSG have worn the three stripes before and since, along with every other top club in France, as, until the end of 2005-06, it was a rule that adidas kits had to be worn in the Coupe de France, with the Coupe de la Ligue having a similar rule until the end of 1999-2000. The competition sponsors, rather than the clubs’ own sponsors, also had to be promoted on the kits.
In the years immediately after switching to Nike, PSG simply wore the same as their previous shirts in the cup, with massive, outdated, collars as well as numbers on the front of the shirts – an initiative which had begun in France in the 1970s though which most likely began in North America in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, pictorial evidence is scant but in the 1991 tie against Marseille, the Nike shorts and socks were used.
This was actually the away shirt at the time, with the home a Lyon-esque white with a double stripe in red and blue.
However, blue and red home shirts were to return and, when PSG beat Nantes in the 1992-93 final, they were in a specially-produced, albeit plain, adidas kit. While the adidas Equipment era had begun, trefoils still abounded on the body and sleeves, even though the red shorts had the new three-stripe motif in the fabric.
By the time PSG would do the domestic cup double in 1994-95, a new design would have been introduced, with a riff on the striping used by the national team, except with red in between the three white stripes rather than the white-blue-white-red-white of France..
There were quite a few variations. In the Coupe de France, as well as the default blue shorts and red socks, white shorts and socks were worn away to Rennes, while the logo placement also varied.
In the final win over Strasbourg, the shirts carried an additional logo, but we have been unable to ascertain what it represented.
PSG would go all the way in the league cup for the first time, too, with the shirts carrying a competition logo on the left of the central stripe.
In their win over Auxerre, they wore the previous red shorts as well as blue-collared shirts with tricolour cuffs. Having lost the toss for colours against Bastia in the final, an away version was worn – the socks were different to those used against Rennes, with blue trim rather than red.
Whether by accident or design, there was some bit of Nike presence in the celebrations.
It would be impossible to keep track of all of the kit variants worn, though one notable change was in 1996-97, when adidas’s distinctive shorts with three stripes around each leg were worn against Besançon, while the red stripe was slightly narrowed.
Competition logos were now en vogue in the French cup too – the deodorant Axe is known as Lynx in the UK.
PSG did the cup double in 1998, again, beat Bordeaux in the league cup final and Lens in the Coupe de France. Narrow blue cuffs were added, while numbered shorts appeared in the Bordeaux game, when the returned adidas logo appeared on the shorts and socks, but the previous socks – with the adidas wordmark – were back for the Lens decider.
These shirts were to remain in use in the Coupe de France until the end of 2000-01 – while the competition-specific sponsors still had to be used in the league cup, they were allowed to wear their proper Nike kit.
For 2001-02, Nike introduced a new kit and this was to provide the basis for the PSG French cup kit for the next five seasons. Whereas the previous cup kits were clearly adidas strips in PSG colours, these were unquestionably Nike outfits that had been adapted to adidas.
Crests did not always appear, but one was present as PSG lost to Auxerre in the final in 2003.
For 2001-02 and 2002-03, there was an adidas version of the Nike away shirt but it wasn’t called into use. However, PSG made it back to the final in 2004, where they would play Châteauroux – who, incidentally, had worn an almost identical strip in the cup in the 1990s – and they lost the toss.
Instead of wearing white, though, they triumphed in a three-striped edition of their beige and dark red 2003-04 away kit.
PSG would mark the end of the adidas rule with another cup win in 2005-06. In the semi-final win over Nantes, the logo of bank Caisse d’Epargne was on the front of the shirts, while communications firm SFR were heavily advertised in the final win over Marseille, with commemorative text and the club crest added also.
The white trim was removed from the end of the sleeves though the red stripe now had a thin white outline.
PSG have won the last four Coupes de France and have competed a five in a row in the league cup, and the wheel has come full-circle in terms of equipment.
The FFF now has a deal with Nike, of course, and while clubs aren’t forced to wear the swoosh, they can do so instead of wearing their usual kit with the changed sponsors.
So it was that third-tier side Les Herbiers, who normally wear adidas, made it to the final in 2018 and were in Nike kit as they lost to PSG.