When the Football Association announced that Nike would be England's new kit providers from 2013, the American brand became only the sixth shirt makers to be used by the national team since 1949. Before then, it is much harder to say for certain which manufacturers provided the kits. We know some, but not all. Since 1949, however, it has been possible to piece together a definitive record based on video and photographic evidence, coupled with a few actual shirts worn by the players. The manufacturers have been:
Provided traditional England shirts before the war. The first one that we have seen was from 1935 (England's first change shirt), but they may have supplied them earlier than this. They were last worn by England in 1954.
Shared shirt supply duties with St. Blaize for at least five years. They were probably producing England shirts from just after the war, but maybe sooner than that. Whilst St. Blaize supplied mostly traditional white shirts with long sleeves, Hope Brothers were the first to produce short sleeves for England, and they also provided all of England's change shirts (both blue and red) up to 1954.
Ended the traditional-shirts era by bringing England right up to date with v-necks in 1954. The company had been around for thirty years by then and may have provided shirts pre-war, but we have not come across any before 1954, though Umbro did provide shiny rayon shorts for England in 1953. Umbro continued to supply England shirts until 1961 and then took a break for four years, before returning to not only help England win the World Cup in 1966, but also to provide almost all of the other teams' kits in the tournament. The plain white shirts, navy blue shorts and plain white socks became the iconic kit and remained unchanged until 1974, although Umbro did produce aertex versions on a number of occasions from 1969 onwards. They also experimented with light-blue and yellow change kits. After a further ten years, Umbro returned to the England dressing room to bring back a more traditional, yet modernised kit in 1984 and then proceeded to secure contract after contract until the company was taken over, in 2008, by Nike, who took on the contract themselves, in 2013. In the last 28 years of Umbro England kits, we saw some strange change uniforms in the 1990s, with some outlandish goalkeeping kits, but the designs settled again to provide the national team with outfits that were closely aligned to the cross of St. George. They also embraced the practice of adding players' names and match details to shirts. Some of the designs were heavily criticised, but on the whole, Umbro took England into the 21st century with a succession of modern kits that players and fans alike were proud to wear.
Bukta began to supply England shirts in 1959. They ended the practice of adding the opponents' name beneath the emblem, but re-introduced long sleeves and discarded red socks for white ones. England's last Bukta shirts were in 1965.
A much-reviled period in England's kit history began when Admiral signed the first commercial kit contract with the Football Association in 1974. It coincided with England's least-successful decade on the playing field, yet the kits are much sought after these days and the styles and bright colours are remembered with nostalgia. Admiral transformed the plain kits into red, white and blue extravaganzas. Incredibly, even though the company was declared bankrupt in 1980, the Admiral brand still managed to kit out the England team for another three years, thanks to another company buying up the rights. There were some very strange inconsistencies in the kits worn during this period, but England still managed to shine in what was almost certainly their most memorable design.