With a kit history as varied as Bayern Munich’s, perhaps it’s hardly surprising that some of their strips have originated from unlikely sources.
While the club have taken the decision in the past few years to only have red and white home strips, in the past the palette has been a lot more varied, best illustrated by the 1990s, when blue began to become more and more prominent.
That culminated in the 1997-99 navy kit. The first time I saw this was in pictures in World Soccer as Bayern celebrated winning the Bundesliga and I originally assumed it to be an away kit – in 2017-18, the same colours would form the Bayern second strip.
However, it was the home and took its inspiration from an outfit worn by a successful team five years earlier – but in basketball rather than football.
The decision to reference the look of the Olympic gold-winning 1992 US ‘Dream Team’ – whose uniform was made by Champion – was seemingly the brainchild of then-general manager Uli Hoeness, who is a big basketball fan.
I recall reading an interview a few years ago where Hoeness acknowledge this, but have struggled to find it. Thankfully, the Bayern 1997-98 yearbook mentions it, albeit briefly, as well as noting the role Oliver Kahn played in the design of his goalkeeper kits, incorporating his favourite colour of light blue.
In 1999, red returned and has been, in some shade or another, the primary colour on every home strip since, paired with a number of different accent colours – from 2011-13 for instance (the last home strip to last two years), gold trim was the choice.
Again, this was something suggested by Hoeness, after an unorthodox design process, which he outlined in a 2019 interview:
I was once in a shopping mall in Dubai and a fan was wearing a red shirt with gold stripes. I bought it from him and then bought him another t-shirt in this mall.
I took the shirt back to Munich and that became our red shirt with the gold stripes.
I have done that on two or three different occasions, simply walking up to people on the street and asking for shirts that I have liked. And we then played in these shirts the following year or two years later.
You might think that, given his proclivity to experiment with the colour-scheme, Hoeness would be against the constraints of sticking to only red and white, but in the same interview – and perhaps knowing his audience – he stuck to the party line.
But now – thank God, I have to say – we, or rather the club, has decided that the home shirt should always be red and white. And I regard this as a good thing.
I really identify with the shirt and I think it is extremely important for the player to feel comfortable wearing it. We can all consider ourselves very fortunate that someone in the past decided to show the colour red very dominantly.
I think that the colour red is a very aggressive colour. It is of course also a boisterous colour that pushes forward. There is nothing defensive about the colour red, I just always see it as a colour that pushes forward. I also think it instils fear and that is why many are undoubtedly envious of the fact that our fathers and great-grandfathers decided at some point that the club colours had to be red and white and we should all be grateful to them for that.