Here at the Bundesliga Fanatic, we are having an in depth look at the lore behind the most iconic Trikots in German football. We’ve covered the story behind the black and white Deutschland kits and the FC Bayern München uniforms so far. Next, we turn our attention to another icon German club: Borussia Dortmund (BVB).
BV Borussia Dortmund 09 is actually not Germany’s undisputed number two in terms of on field success. Dortmund is 4th on the all-time Bundesliga ranking and 3rd best in “German championships won.” But without a doubt, BVB have been the second most relevant club in Germany over the last five seasons, which is why we picked Dortmund for our next entry.
Let’s start with a quick overview:
Yellow with black trim, black shorts and “Biene Maja” socks. I’m sure everybody is familiar with this now icon color scheme.
Dortmund has used red, white, violet, purple and grey as an alternate color over the years. Thing is, Dortmund rarely has to wear an away kit, because none of the regular Bundesliga clubs wear yellow. So the BVB away kit doesn’t show up often.
Alemannia Aachen and Dynamo Dresden use a similar color scheme, but those clubs haven’t been in the Bundesliga for a long time.
Recently, Puma has settled on black as the secondary color and delivered some slick looking kits.
In 1996/97 Dortmund became the first Bundesliga club to issue a designated jersey for international matches. Goool.de, Kappa and now Puma have kept the tradition alive.
“Das Weihnachtstrikot” is the latest addition to the collection. For the final home match before Christmas, Dortmund suits up in a special kit. There was also a special kit for the Schalke match once.
You can check out an impressive collection here.
How BVB Ended up in Black and Yellow
When Dortmund’s Ballspielverein got off the ground in 1909, the very first BVB kits featured blue and white vertical stripes worn beneath a red sash.
During the summer of 1912, three local clubs – Rhenania, Britannia, and Deutsche Flagge – dissolved and merged with Borussia. The name remained, but the white and blue kits didn’t. The four clubs decided that Britannia’s “zitronengelb” (lemon yellow) should survive the merger and be worn by future BVB players. This look hasn’t changed ever since.
Borussia had an amazing run in the 1950’s and 60’s. The “Emmerich & Libuda Ära” ended with four domestic titles, the 1966 Cup Winner’s Cup was the icing on the cake.
The Dark Ages
Dortmund couldn’t sustain that level of excellence. The average BVB league position from 1967-1972 was below average (13th). Dortmund was flirting hard with Relegation for years and in 1972 it actually happened, Dortmund was dropped to second tier.
Adidas provided the uniforms during those years, but Erima also supplied the BVB kit for a season. After a four year stint in the 2.Bundesliga the BVB was dead broke and needed a bailout. Thankfully the city of Dortmund and some local companies came up with the money and prevented the death of Borussia.
As a sign of appreciation BVB wore a special jersey in 1975-76, which on the front said “DO” (license plate code for Dortmund) and “Dortmund” was added to the back of the uniforms to honor the city.
To this day, Borussia wears the Dortmund banner on the back, but it was moved to the bottom of the shirt when Dortmund needed room to accommodate player names.
Things were looking up for Dortmund when the Westfalenstadion was built. At the start of the 1976/77 Bundesliga season, Borussia was finally back in the top flight.
The Dortmund Lions?
You might have noticed the corny looking lion crest on the graphic above, this was no mistake. Borussia was hurting financially and the tobacco company Samson came in as a sponsor. To make the deal more worthwhile for Samson, the BVB changed it’s logo to accommodate the Samson Lion. Yup, that Lion Crest was the official BVB Wappen for two seasons, so maybe BVB fans should chill with the “RB Leipzig bashing.”
Anyways, Dortmund became a solid mid table club during the 1980’s, after being on the fringes of bankruptcy for most of the 1970’s. The coolest shirts of that era were definitely the Adidas “UHU” ones, because the colors match so well. The 80s ended on a high note when Dortmund won the 1989 DFB Pokal Final and claimed its first trophy in almost a quarter century.
The Nike and Hitzfeld Era
Borussia hit the jackpot when Nike made them their German flagship club. Before the 90’s, the market for football apparel was in control of European companies like Adidas, Puma, Umbro or Diadora. At the time, Nike was a non factor in “soccer,” but the American company wanted a piece of the growing football business. So Arsenal, Dortmund, Brazil and Italy among others signed with Nike during the 90s.
Borussia Dortmund became the centerpiece of the “Nike Deutschland” PR campaign. “Zitronengelb” became “Textmarker” neon yellow and Nike came up with some fresh designs that Adidas would never have used back then. Nike also bought a lot of ad time on German TV and ran ads that featured Borussia Dortmund players like Sammer, Möller or Lars Ricken.
By 1995, Dortmund was the German champ again for the first time in 32 years; they repeated in 1996 and were headed for even bigger things.
In 1997, Dortmund became the first Bundesliga club to win the rebranded Champions League, that it happened on Bayern’s home turf made it even sweeter. Borussia also won the “World Sports Team of the Year Award” ahead of the 1997 Chicago Bulls.
Every dynasty comes to an end, unfortunately Dortmund had no clue how to build the next Dynasty.
The Goool.de Dumpster Fire
Hitzfeld stepped down in the wake of “Munich 97,” Sammer’s body broke down for good and Dortmund failed to hit a 60 point total in four consecutive Bundesliga seasons. If winning is a drug, then GM Meier and President Niebaum were junkies who needed another hit at (literally) all costs.
BVB became a publicly traded company and needed a more diverse portfolio of business operation. Meier broke up with Nike and founded a BVB owned company called “Goool.de”. First, the Goool apparel looked ugly and cheap but cost as much as the stylish Nike shirts of previous seasons.
Second, only low division teams Dynamo Dresden and Kickers Offenbach were interested in being equipped by Goool.de, so the company never created any meaningful income on the side. The brand was ultimately sold and killed.
Meier and Niebaum “bought” the BVB another championship in 2002, the BVB was outspending Bayern and broke the Bundesliga transfer record twice (Rosicky, Amoroso).
But the bill needed to be paid at some point. By 2005, BVB was bankrupt and needed bailout number two. Dortmund went back to Nike with their tails between their legs, as a broken club.
BVB should have been to Nike what Bayern is to Adidas, but Meier and Niebaum screwed that up, so Nike didn’t stick with Dortmund when the contract was up in 2009.
Italian kit manufacturer Kappa put the best offer on the table for Dortmund and people realized how deep the BVB had fallen. No disrespect to Kappa, but the biggest clubs in the world are outfitted by the biggest brands. If a small brand like Kappa, Macron or Jako can sign a club, it means that Nike and Adidas don’t care about it.
So Dortmund was a “who cares?” club for a long time, until a certain coach with big glasses and an even bigger personality was brought in by the fabolous new leaders Zorc and Watzke.
The Klopp Heavy Metal Years
Let’s face it, Kappa won the lottery. Jürgen Klopp, “Next Messi” Götze, Shinji Kagawa, Hummels and Lewandowski weren’t on the team or unproven commodities when Kappa secured the Dortmund deal, three domestic titles later the BVB was one of the most exciting and likeable teams in Europe. Yet Kappa had only locked up a three year BVB deal, a mistake that would come back to haunt the small Italian outfitter (111m$ in annual revenue, Nike has ca. 30 billion). To be fair though, back in 2009 nobody knew what the hell a “Kagawa” was or whether Klopp’s stuff would work at a bigger club than Mainz. By 2012 the whole world knew. Kloppo and Dortmund’s kit license was so valuable, that Kappa couldn’t match what was being offered by bigger brands.
Puma’s bid won in the end, and it looks like a match made in heaven. Dortmund as the Bundesliga’s #2 joined forces with Puma, Germany’s #2 sport apparel manufacturer. During year one of the partnership Dortmund made the UCL Final and gained millions of fans overseas.
The strategic partnership was deepened further, when Puma bought a 5% stake in the BVB and is obviously in it for the long run. With great leaders like Zorc and Watzke around, the club was able to end the “Klopp Dynasty” without any bad blood and a worthy successor was found in Thomas Tuchel.
2016-17 Dortmund Kits
To give you an impression how well the BVB is doing in merchandising today, check out this video:
We are used to midnight launches for new iPhones, Star Wars films or Harry Potter books, in Dortmund they have one for a freaking jersey (!) that can be purchased literally everywhere a couple of hours later. For most fans pre ordering online is good enough, some pick up the new kit on release day after work. But in Dortmund, this doesn’t cut it, so the club has a full blown midnight release event. Dortmund’s fans are amazing.
In case you missed the 2016 BVB midnight launch or live overseas, check out this site to get yours at SoccerPro.com.
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