Authentic vs. Replica Jerseys: Which should you buy?

As football fans, wearing jerseys and shirts is a fantastic way to show pride for our clubs, our national teams, and the beautiful game in general. But your team releases a new kit every year, and sometimes the new designs simply won’t fit your taste. Perhaps you want a retro design out of style preference, or perhaps you want to celebrate iconic players and glory days of the past by wearing a historic shirt. 

Enter the vintage football kit business. Retro football shirts have exploded onto the fashion scene in recent years, appealing not only to football fans but also to the wider market of vintage and hipster style enthusiasts. In general, two distinct types of products have emerged to fill this demand: authentic football shirts, and replica football shirts. 

The key difference between them is fairly obvious; authentic shirts are original designs, distributed in the initial year of release, while replicas are modern recreations of classic designs. However, the two types of shirts carry some nuanced differences that are worth considering before purchase – so which shirt is right for you, replica, or authentic? 

Expensive Authentics and Accessible Replicas – Classic Designs for All 

Like any product, the difference in cost will be the deciding factor for most buyers. How much do authentic football shirts cost? How much do replica jerseys cost?

Authentic jerseys are vintage, and no longer in production. The older the shirt, the more limited the supply. A more recent popular vintage shirt from 2010-2015 will often cost close to £75 (about $95).  Older fan-favorite authentic kits, especially ones printed with superstar player names like R9 Ronaldo or Zinedine Zidane, usually start at £150 (about $190). For something even rarer, like an original 1980’s Diego Maradona Argentina kit, be prepared to shell out at least £400 (about $500). Ordinary football fans will want to pass on the most sought after classic designs. 

Ronaldo goes for goal against Turkey in the 2002 World Cup

Zidane leaps past Croatian defence in the 1998 World Cup

Replicas, on the other hand, are naturally the more affordable option. Our replica designs at Beautiful 90s range from about £30 to £50 (about $38 to $63), depending on the shirt, and whether or not you want player names and numbers printed on the back. You can potentially save hundreds by choosing a replica over an authentic. Or you can expand your wardrobe with two, three, even four or more Beautiful 90s quality replica shirts, for the same price as a single authentic kit.

Relic, or ready to wear? What do you want to do with your vintage jersey? 

While the price is important, it’s certainly not the only question to consider. Before you decide what to buy, ask yourself: what do I want from a retro football jersey? 

Authentic vintage football shirts carry an intangible appeal, that x-factor of an original product with official sponsors, badges, and logos. The better the condition, the higher the price. For that reason, you may not want to wear it often, for risk of damage. There are quite a few die-hard vintage buyers who will frame their most coveted authentic kits. Is there an empty space on your wall at home where you’d like to frame a 1966 Brazil Pelé home shirt? 

Pelé in action at the 1966 World Cup

With modern fabric, replica kits are often even more durable than old authentic shirts, and won’t lose value from everyday use.  They’re easy to wash, and won’t shrink when drying. You can bring a replica shirt onto the pitch and dive into sliding challenges without fear of mud stains. Wear replicas with confidence in a crowded pub or on matchdays, there’s no risk of £200 going down the drain if some tipsy bloke spills his pint on you. 

Authentic vs. Replica – What’s the difference in design? 

Naturally, authentics is the original design that replicas intend to recapture. While they won’t be exactly the same, certain replicas only differ from originals in the fabric and manufacturing methods. In fact, some replicas actually improve the functionality of vintage designs. 

1990 Ireland Home

1990 Ireland Away

In 1990, the original Republic of Ireland home and away shirts featured an OPEL sponsor on the front. The logo in the authentics is bonded to the fabric. Over time, the print is worn down, and the logo gradually comes loose. We apply modern manufacturing methods in our replicas by embroidering the sponsor on our replicas of the 1990 Irish home and away designs, resulting in a more durable shirt. 

In some shirts, it’s possible for replicas to have nearly identical designs, patterns, badges, and text prints. But we also see popular designs that simply can’t feature the exact same logos as the original shirt due to copyright protection. Ultimately, it comes down to the preference and priority of the customer to decide whether they think a replica captures the original design well enough for them to appreciate. 

Looking to get historic football shirts to show off your favorite club or national team at an accessible price? Or need a great affordable gift to give a huge football or soccer fan? Then replicas could be the right pick for you. 

Where to find excellent replica jerseys

If you’re interested in looking at replica retro football shirts, check out our products at Beautiful 90s. We make our shirts as close as possible to original designs and guarantee a high-quality replica. If you don’t love your Beautiful 90s kit, we offer returns on almost all our products within 30 days of delivery. 

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