No ‘all-white’ kit is more famous than that of Spanish Giants Real Madrid. Over the generations the kit has become synonymous with immense success and prestige.
From the 1950’s team that dominated Europe with Alfredo Di Stefano leading the line to the modern day stardom of Cristiano Ronaldo – the crisp white uniform has always demanded respect and conjured footballing greatness.
The First Kit
Real Madrid remain amongst a handful of professional teams continuing to use their original shirt and shorts colour combination ever since its creation.
Founded in 1902, Real Madrid began life as a student side based in the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. Yet within two years, some members of the faculty decided to form a football society and separated from the others to start a new team.
Originally named Madrid Football club, they wore all-white buttoned up jerseys with turned down collars. Their shorts were also a matching white but interestingly their socks were black. The team also sported a huge club logo on the left side of their chests.
Madrid Football Club secured its first major honour in 1905 after beating Athletic Bilbao to win the Spanish Cup. At the beginning of 1909, it became one of the founding members of the Royal Spanish Football Federation. By 1920, Alfonso XIII would officially grant Madrid Football Club the royal designation and with it the name Real Madrid.
Their continued use of the predominantly white kit eventually earned them the nickname ‘Los Blancos’ meaning ‘The Whites’ – a term that is still used to this day.
During the early 1920’s the kit became well fitted and used a wide stylised collars that could be laced up over the upper chest and neck.
Real have only ever veered away from their traditional shorts colours once. In 1925 the club decided to sport black shorts with the reported intention of adopting the look of successful Brazilian side Corinthian FC.
Yet the experiment lasted just a single season.
Following a defeat to bitter rivals Barcelona, club President Pedro Parages declared black shorts to be a bad omen and the very next campaign he oversaw a return to the original white bottoms.
The kit remained the same for the majority of the 1930’s. Los Blancos won two successive league titles in 1932 and 1933. Yet with the formation of a Second Spanish Republic, the club were forced to drop ‘Real’ from their official name and so returned to being known as Madrid Football club.
The shift in political landscape and outbreak of World War II caused much unrest and besides a pair of Copa del Rey triumphs – the team would struggle to find regular success until the late 1940’s.
In 1947, the club introduced two versions of their white home shirt including a short sleeve design for summer and longer sleeved option for use in the wintertime – a standard practice in today’s game.
During the same year, Real Madrid became the first side in Spain to sport the use of numbers on the back of their shirts before those in power allowed the squad to revert back to their former name – Real Madrid – the crest beginning to see change both in terms of kit design and success.
1955 was a transformative year for Real Madrid. It signalled the final stage of evolution for their kit design and the beginning of unprecedented glory on the European stage.
Their black socks, which had been a feature of the kit since its inception fifty years earlier, changed to white and would remain that way to this day.
Coincidentally, the all-white design change occurred in the very same season as the birth of the European Cup. The competition (which would later become the Champions League) was designed to pit league winners from all major European countries against each other.
Dressed from head to toe in glorious white attire, Real Madrid won five consecutive European Cup titles between 1956 and 1960 and asserted their dominance throughout the continent.
In the decades that followed, Real Madrid’s kit remained largely the same. Alterations included a change of fit or trim, collar shape, sponsor iconography, manufacturer logo and an evolving club crest.
Real Madrid’s crest has seen a total of five major design changes since its first iteration at the beginning of the 20th century. These alterations have typically been significant and often dependent on the politics surrounding the game at that moment.
The First Crest (1902-1908)
Real Madrid’s first crest reflected the name of the club at the time. Known as Madrid Football Club, the inaugural logo featured three main letters – M, C and F – with each letter layered on top of the next. The crest was elegant and traditional, however by today’s standards it would be considered overly complex and confusing in terms of branding. The logo was reasonably large in size and dominated most of the shirt’s left chest area.
The Rounded Crest (1908-1920)
It would be six years until Real’s crest would be subject to a rethink. Still called Madrid Football Club at this point, the three letter acronym remained prominent in the design with a slight change in positioning. The biggest addition was the use of a circle that surrounded the typography whilst the blue and white colourway stayed consistent.
The Crown Crest (1920-1931)
The two-tone white and blue motif remained in place for this third re-design of Real Madrid’s crest. However, there was a significant addition and key component to the crest that is present even today.
In 1920, King Alfonso XIII granted the club his royal patronage and with it Madrid Club de Fútbol officially changed its name to Real Madrid. Along with the historical rebranding, their crest received a major upgrade with the inclusion of a royal crown symbol.
The Stripe Crest (1931-1941)
Politics would once again shape the history of Real Madrid and along with it the look of their club crest.
In 1931, the Second Spanish Republic came to power which resulted in the dissolution of the monarchy, Real would lose their royal affiliation and return to being called Madrid Club de Fútbol.
This prompted a change in the club crest as the band associated with the Region of Castille was added to the design – a blue colour that would later become a more accurate purple. It would also be the last time that blue lettering was used to display the lettering within the crest.
The Colourful Crest (1941-2001)
Following the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War, the club would once again reclaim its name Real Madrid. This new crest marked the biggest redesign in their history and would remain in place for sixty years!
The most notable upgrade was the use of colour. Along with the classic blue and white elements, the insignia now included a deeper purple stripe, gold trim and hints of red.
The letters were now a splendid golden colour, the band representing the Region of Castille finally a true purple colour and the return of a crown added red to proceedings.
Whilst not an official part of a redesign, the purple stripe morphed into blue in 1998 when manufacturer Adidas took control of producing the kit.
The Modern Crest (2001- present)
At the turn of the 21st century, Real Madrid updated their crest for a fifth time and the design represents the version used to date.
Whilst largely the same as its previous version – there were two changes. The blue band was made an official element of the logo and the red cushioned areas within the crown were reduced in size – making the royal symbol stand out compared to earlier designs.
Throughout the years, sponsor branding on the front of football shirts has become an iconic part of Real Madrid’s designs. They have sported the names of seven sponsors on their kits since the concept was first introduced in the Mid-1980’s.
From 1980 to 1982, Real were sponsored by Food Corporation Parmalat and again from 1985 to 1989. In between these two periods, home appliance company Zanussi appeared on the Madrid shirt.
After brief sponsorship deals with Spanish dairy organisation Reny Picot and company Otaysa, Madrid partnered with German Manufacturing giants Teka from 1994-1998.
In 2001, ‘realmadrid.com’ was used as a ploy to promote their new website and a year later they formed a five-year partnership with Tech company Siemens.
Online betting providers Bwin became sponsors in 2007 in a deal that saw them appear on the Real shirt until 2013. The club’s current deal is with Emirates with whom they have a €70 million a year deal that runs until 2026.
Real Madrid manufactured their kits themselves ‘in house’ up until 1960. Since then they have outsourced the process to various manufacturers across more than six decades.
Some of the most notable manufacturers include Umbro, who produced Real Madrid kits in stages from the mid-60’s to the early 1970’s. Danish Manufacturer Hummel were Los Blanco’s kit producers from 1984-1994.
However, their longest running partnership is with Adidas who have manufactured Real Madrid kits from 1998 to the present day. It is an eight-year deal that runs until 2028 and is worth a reported €1.1 billion!
Whilst Real Madrid’s home kit has remained largely white, the Spanish club’s other kits have incorporated a whole host of colours into their designs.
Throughout their early history, Madrid’s away strips were typically blue or even purple. During the late 1990’s, a black kit was usually released every few seasons. These three colours – blue, purple and black – were used in rotation across the majority of their away and third kit designs.
Real have deviated from this pattern, especially during more recent time, having experimented with a range of different hues.
Memorable choices include the 2014/15 pink kit, a light grey strip used the following season and a dark green effort sported in the earlier 2010’s.