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Nigel Cabourn joins forces with Umbro for his latest collaboration

Tom Bottomley
05 November 2021

Last night saw the launch of the brand new and first Umbro collaboration collection with Nigel Cabourn at the menswear designer’s store at 28 Henrietta Street in London’s Covent Garden.

The 10-piece Umbro x Nigel Cabourn collection stems from Cabourn’s love for collecting vintage sportswear and military pieces, and Umbro’s desire to find the right designer to highlight the brand’s rich rugby and football heritage and give its iconic silhouettes a modern makeover.

It’s timely too because Umbro’s has recently stepped back into rugby as the official kit partner to England Rugby, as well as sponsoring the British & Irish Lions.

From today, on Nigel Cabourn’s website, the collection is described as “reinterpreting Umbro’s rugby legacy whilst incorporating signature Cabourn military influences”.

The Cabourn and Umbro connection came about when Fabric PR owner Khabi Mirza, who has known Cabourn for over 20 years and who has Umbro as one of his company’s clients, saw Cabourn sporting a vintage Umbro drill training top on Instagram that he’d literally bought off the back of a friend. He loved it so much as it brought back strong memories. For Mirza, the penny dropped that Cabourn would be the man to best reinterpret Umbro’s rich sporting past, while also giving it a contemporary feel so it would appeal to younger customers as well as older customers who remember the brand with fondness from their youth.

Cabourn himself is one such old Umbro fan, having worn it growing up and playing football. A wannabe goalkeeper and a Scunthorpe United fan (he was born in Scunthorpe and the team wore Umbro), Cabourn remembers Umbro being the sportswear brand most popular with school boys of his generation. Not only that, Umbro most famously made the kit and training gear for Alf Ramsey’s World Cup winning England team in 1966, which has been another big inspiration for the designer.

Cabourn said: “I remember wearing Umbro kit in the 1950’s as a kid, and when I saw my friend wearing the old drill top, I just thought I’ve got to have that piece! I wore it on Instagram during one of the Covid-19 lockdowns and Khabi spotted the photo. He commented on how good the top looked and said we should do a collaboration. I thought it was a great idea, because I’ve never done a football or rugby collaboration collection before and I was really excited about the prospect of working with Umbro. To me it was a special one to do as it’s got the history behind it. That’s what my brand is all about, taking history and reinventing it.”

The range includes Umbro’s iconic drill training top in RAF navy, updated with a button-fastening chest pocket and zip neck that zipped down reveals an elastic gusset as per the original design, and a matching training pant with zips on the ankle, an embroidered diamond logo and pocket detailing. “They are the two real key pieces, which we’ve done in contemporary fits,” commented Cabourn.

The collection also includes regiment striped rugby tops, based on some of Cabourn’s own Umbro vintage pieces from the 1950’s and 60’s, featuring ‘N’ and ‘C’ back patches, as well as sweatshirts, ribbed beanie hats and a retro Umbro trainer with a roughout suede upper. There’s also an aged look leather 1940’s-style rugby ball with a gold foil embossed Umbro x Nigel Cabourn logo.

The collection is most likely the start of something as opposed to a one off. As Cabourn added: “I don’t usually do one-offs, even with Fred Perry I did four seasons of collaborations. It would be great to do Umbro again and move it on a bit. The first collection is quite basic and true to the history of the brand, but there’s a lot more I can do with it going forward.”

Price points for the new collection are more commercial than Cabourn’s own premium offering, to appeal to a wider audience, starting at £40 for a beanie hat and going up to £135 for the drill top. As well as being available on the Cabourn and Umbro websites from today, key stockists include END, Hanon, Xile Clothing, Oi Polloi and size?

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