Beware: Counterfeit shirts

Thursday, 25 April 2024 | News, In Focus

Brendan Nevin's research proves that what you see for sale may not be what you want  
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Having spent the majority of their professional football tenure in the lower divisions, the sales points for Brentford’s replica shirts had been limited to the onsite and online club shop. With the ascension of Thomas Frank’s team to the Premier League we have seen buying options extended to online retailers including the Umbro website, but unfortunately the counterfeit market has seen the sales potential too.

The first mass produced counterfeit replica appeared soon after the 2021-23 Home shirt was revealed.
Although from a distance it bore more than a passing resemblance to the original, closer inspection revealed many differences and quality concerns.

The 2023-25 shirt was officially released to the world on 4th July 2023, but a leak appeared on social media a few weeks earlier showing the rear of the shirt.
Within hours counterfeits based on this leak were available to order. Unfortunately those who chose to order at this stage received shirts vastly different from the official version.

Fake shirt. Black collar, black Umbro, no white surrounding the Brentford badge

Following the shirt’s official launch more accurate versions were advertised on the counterfeit shirt websites. Whilst I’m not here to judge or point a finger at those who for whatever reason have chosen to buy from these sites, we present a guide for those looking to buy from second hand sellers, especially those in the market for player signed shirts.
Although the advertising may list the shirt as being a genuine Umbro article, follow these tips to spot the real from the fake:

Brendan’s guide

As most signed shirts seem to be advertised with a rear of shirt photo, it would be reasonable to start the comparison there.
The now ever present Bee emblem is printed crisply on the genuine shirt but is much less detailed on the counterfeits with many of the lines between component parts blurred.

The unique way that the red stripe fades to black at the bottom of the shirt differs between the versions.
Umbro’s shirt has a solid black bottom which morphs into black diagonal lines which get thinner and eventually break into smaller sections.
The counterfeits do not have this solid black bottom and the lines break up much earlier into the shirt.

The shirt fabric is of a noticeably different and better quality on the Umbro version.
The counterfeit has a wider stitch giving an Airtex appearance.
The Umbro versions have also been designed with the rear section hanging lower than the front.
This is accompanied by a small split at the side.
The counterfeit has both sections the same length with no split.

There have been a range of club badges attached to the counterfeit shirts.
There are noticeable differences in the size of the elements, the size and placement of the text, and the width of the surrounding black border circle.

One big identifier on the 2021-23 counterfeit was the Hollywood Bets print which is still apparent on the 2023-25 attempts.
The white border surrounding the lettering does not have a gap in the ‘H’ of Hollywood on the genuine shirt, but the counterfeiters have not fixed this and their versions still have a noticeable gap.

Some versions have got the spacing between the stripes hideously wrong.
Umbro’s shirts have red and white stripes of equal size, whilst the gaps between red and white are of differing dimensions on some counterfeit offerings.

A further noticeable difference is the stitching on the red and black sleeve.
Some counterfeits shirts have a red stitch running across the cuff, while the Umbro version has colour on colour stitching.
Finally the logos and sizing printing inside the shirt are a light grey on the Umbro shirt, but black on the counterfeit.

There are more than a few counterfeit versions of the 2023-25 home shirt available at present but hopefully using some of the pointers mentioned in this article they can be identified.
Although they may look reasonable from a photo, in hand the quality of the materials, the stitching, the badges and any name and number printing is generally poor.

Brendan’s advice

If in any doubt on the authenticity of a shirt my advice would always be to request further images of it from the seller, especially if only rear view photos have been offered on the original sale listing.
Before parting with your money be sure that what you are buying is the genuine article.
If the seller can’t be trusted to be providing a genuine shirt, can they be trusted to be providing genuine autographs?Brendan’s website has all you need to know about the history of Bees shirts

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Brendan Nevin