Here at Bundesliga Fanatic, we are taking an in depth look at the story behind the most iconic trikots in German football. Last time around, we covered the story behind the black and white Deutschland kits. Germany’s second most beloved team, the FC Bayern München, is up this time.
Bayern’s uniform history is actually pretty chaotic and full of coincidences. Bayern’s kits can even decide the outcome of a Champions League and scare away the Devil, but more on that later.
When Blue & White Became “Die Roten”
The FC Bayern color scheme you love or hate, depending on where you stand with Bayern, wasn’t in the plans originally. “Bayern” means Bavaria and in the club constitution a genuine Bavarian color scheme was mandated. Here is a Bavarian flag:
The founders of Bayern settled on white shirts & blue shorts. The only problem: It was impossible to purchase blue shorts during the early 1900s, therefore Bayern was forced to wear black shorts which they called “darkblue.”
In the early years of German football, it was commonplace for clubs to merge, the cost cutting often ensured survival for both entities. It was no different for the FC Bayern that merged with Münchner SC in 1906. In every merger two parties have to find some common ground on which insignia of what team should survive or be scrapped.
In Bayern’s case, the MSC agreed that the Bayern name and white jerseys should be carried over, but the shorts would have to be dark red. Without the Münchner SC colors, Bayern’s kits would look like Olympique Marseille or 1860 today.
The ensuing nickname, “Die Rothosen” (the red shorts) wasn’t a compliment, as Bayern was mocked by rival players and club officials with jokes about menstruating Bayern players. The “Rothosen” jokes stopped, when the Bavarians killed the white shirt, suited up in entirely red uniforms and finally became “Die Roten.” Yet Bayern was still tinkering with kit colors, they once gave blue and red vertical stripes a shot, for example:
Ultimately Bayern switched from maroon to a basic shade of red and ended the search for a consistent look once and for all. That “Bayern Look”, except a few tweaks now and then, has stuck until this day. Red shirts. Red shorts. White trim. Mia san Mia:
Note: If you’d like to dig deeper and look at ALL the Bayern shirts, visit UB69’s website. The “Ultras Bavaria 1969” have put together a great overview.
The Bayern Auswärtstrikot (Away Kit)
We’ve learned that Bayern wore red as the secondary color. When red became the primary color, white was used for the away shirts. White works well and was the logical choice, since many black and white TV sets were still around. There have been a few seasons where Bayern players wore yellow or gold, but those seasons came and went, while white remained.
A special “Brazilian” yellow and blue kit was worn by Die Roten during the mid 1990’s for a very strange reason: Bayern was scared of the Betzenberg in Kaiserslautern.
To this day, Bayern has a negative record at the Betze (13W-11D-18L) and in the 80s and 90s it often got ugly for Bayern on that mountain. Die Roten had to play in white alternates during each beating handed to them by “Die Roten Teufel”. At some point “try new jerseys” seemed like sensible plan to Bayern’s officials for some reason.
I’m not making this up. For the 1989/90 season, a yellow Bayern shirt popped up and from 1993 to 1995 Bayern wore it again. Well, in short term the jersey didn’t help all that much. Bayern received a 0:4 Betze-style butt whipping in 1994 while wearing the special “Betze kit”.
Next, the “FC Bayern international alternate” was born. In 1998/99, Bayern reached the Champions League Final in their silver “Robocop” uniforms, which Bayern wore exclusively in Champions League matches. Today, Bayern releases a black kit with red trim ahead of every Champions League season.
Kit Manufacturers and Sponsors
The first time Bayern’s uniforms were manufactured by Adidas was in 1974/75 and we can assume that the 2074 Bayern squad will also play in Adidas. To make sure Bayern never even thinks about switching to the “swoosh”, Adidas drowns Bayern in money. For example, the most recent kit deal, which runs through 2030, is worth a billion Euros and will get extended sooner than later for even more cash.
As far as kit sponsors are concerned, however, it’s a little confusing. Bayern wore a jersey that said “Adidas” on the chest from 1975 to 1980. Not sure whether this counts.
Anyways, Bayern’s next kit sponsor was Magirus Deutz (1980-84), a heavy duty vehicle company which was renamed IVECO Magirus in 1982. From 1985 to 1989, the computer company Commodore put its name on Bayern’s chest.
When the 90s rolled around, OPEL took over and kept Germany’s most valuable piece of advertising space for over a decade. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile, T-Com, T-Systems), a worldwide communication giant, has been the kit sponsor since 2002/03.
The Shop Hoeness Built
Say what you will about Uli Hoeness, but the guys knows a business opportunity when he sees one.
Bundesliga merchandising wasn’t a big business before the mid 90’S, Bayern & co. were years behind the Premier League and decades behind American pro leagues. Clubs sold “merch” straight out of their administration offices, only a handful had a designated pro shop.
Back then, kits weren’t a must have. Unlicensed scarves, jeans vests and flags were the most popular products. A jersey wasn’t a hot item, because the DFB didn’t allow names on the back of sold kits and starters had to wear #1 through #11. When Lothar Matthäus was out, young backup Mehmet Scholl would wear “his” #10.
Uli Hoeness saw first hand how sports teams could market their “brands” at the 1994 World Cup in America. Hoeness, eager to learn, attended US sporting events and saw VIP skyboxes, food vendors at every corner and people wearing shirts like #23 Jordan or #32 Magic. It was a revelation to him. Football players switch teams all the time and “customers” will be tempted to buy a new kit, every time a big player leaves or joins.
Naturally, Hoeness wanted in on the action and bullied the league into allowing designated kit numbers and names on the back.
Back in the 90s, people around the league said “Oh, look at Hoeness. Sad how he’s commercializing football!”. Nowadays even FC St.Pauli has a “Kit Reveal Event” and every club is getting rich off merchandising. Selling branded goods makes up for 8% of the Bundesliga’s total revenue, that’s almost half of what ticket sales (20%) bring in.
To no one’s surprise Bayern is getting the most out merchandising, their 2015 revenue exceeded 100 million Euros. By contrast, the FC Augsburg had 60 million in total revenue.
With 3.3 million 2016 jerseys sold, Bayern was #2 worldwide in 2015/16 kit sales according to Euroamericas Sports Marketing. Only Barcelona was able to move more shirts around the globe, in Germany Bayern sells more shirts (1.2 million) than all other teams combined.
A huge chunk of those kits are sold by third party stores, but Bayern is slowly trying to cut out the middle man. Not only do the Bavarians have Megastore at the AllianzArena, an online store in multiple languages, plus six smaller shops in Munich, they also have a Bayern shop close to the Austrian border, one in Oberhausen located deep in Schalke & BVB territory and another one at the Mall of Berlin.
My Personal Top Three Bayern Trikots
Just like I did in my Die Mannschaft trikot piece, I will pick my personal favourite/least favorite Bayern kits and try to explain my picks as best as I can.
The 2013/14 Oktoberfest Jersey
Even though Bayern hardly ever wore it, and the design didn’t stick, this kit will go for huge sums on eBay at some point.
1996-98 UEFA Cup winning Jersey
I’m a sucker for well made throwback kits, and Bayern’s 1996 one is a great example how to get it right. Stays close to the original, but innovate. Great job on this one.
The Top Three:
#3 2007-2009 Home Kit
This year was a humbling experience for Bayern, the UCL-spoiled Bavarian noblemen had to mingle with the peasants in the UEFA Cup for the first time in over a decade.
But help was on it’s way. Luca Toni, Franck Ribery and Miro Klose came in during the summer to remedy those problems. And they did it in some über stylish shirts.
The horizontal stripes looked classy and didn’t interfere with the overall “Bayern look,” neck, stripes, the T-Home banner and the badge all fit together perfectly.
#2 2006/07 Champions League Kit
I’ve mentioned above that the traditional shade of “FC Bayern red” looked more like the NFL’s Washington Redskins home uniforms. Bayern used “Bordeaux Rot” on their 2001-2003 home uniforms, but the greyish sleeves ruined the look in my opinion. Why would you do a traditional color on a modern shirt anyways?
For the 2006/07 UCL season, Adidas got it together and put Bayern’s players in old school “MSC red.” On a classic, minimalist kit that colour looks very, very cool. I wonder why Bayern has never used that color again… oh because it looks almost exactly like an 1. FC Nürnberg kit. Now I get it.
#1 1974-1976 / 2001- 2002 / 2012-13 Kits
No jersey says “Bayern” as much as a basic red shirt with white trim. Some Bayern fans I know never want to see experimental color schemes ever again because they believe Bayern are cursed whenever they get too fancy with the design.
Bayern has made ten Champions League finals in total, but won “only” half of them. This is a pretty bad Return on Investment compared to what other European powerhouses did.
Bayern’s 1999 and 2012 UCL final upsets are legendary tales of terrible luck.
On top of that the “mia san mia giant” also lost the biggest game of the year in 1982 vs Aston Villa, 1987 vs FC Porto and 2010 vs Inter. Mourinho’s 2010 Inter side was great, but against ManU, Chelsea, Villa and Porto the “Münchner” were heavy favourites, dominated their opponent but somehow found a way to lose the match. Others were more efficient.
My Least Favorite
Hmmmm… it is kinda hard to name an ugly Bayern shirt. They always look fresher, cleaner and classier than other Bundesliga kits made by Adidas.
That 90s yellow “Betze” alternate ranks pretty high in terms of “ugly”, but the background story is too good, so I’m going with the 2010/11 edition.
Bayern marketed this shirt as a throwback, but the width and number of stripes is way off.
I always thought throwback means “close similarity to the original”, well this 2010 kit looks nothing like the iconic uniform Adidas tried to emulate. Even the details were a mess.
Adidas: “What type of font do you want for 2010/11?” Bayern: “All of them!”
This jersey features three different fonts on the back. The old school Bayern München banner, Premier League style kit numbers plus a special font for the player names.
Oh and the iconic Telekom “T” looks like somebody slapped a sticker on each player’s chest 10 minutes before kick off. Ugh. But I must admit, the fact that this shirt sticks out as the ugliest uniform I could think of, means Adidas and Bayern have been doing a great job.
(Stay tuned for the next part of the series, when we will uncover why Borussia Dortmund wears black and yellow.)
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