Sports apparel is a behemoth of an industry that rakes in billions of dollars annually. Which is why it's not difficult to figure out why so many teams, in sports around the world, are busy trying to find ways to capitalize on that gravy train. There are third jerseys, alternate jerseys, and jerseys worn just for special occasions – such as the Boston Red Sox and Notre Dame special shamrock green jersey for St. Patrick's Day. Some of them are incredibly sharp looking and others are laughably terrible. But there is no denying that even those garish, outlandish jerseys have the ability to rake in money.
Despite the money grab that sports apparel has become, there are some jerseys that are timeless classics. Some teams have cultivated such loyal and passionate fanbases that their regular jerseys will always outsell whatever gimmicky alternate jerseys the organization rolls out. There are also those organizations who are so big, and are always such a big money draw in their own right that they don't need to get involved with gimmicks like green jerseys or special “this day only” jerseys. Most do because you can't have enough money, right? But some don't.
No matter which way you slice it though, there is a whole bunch of money in jersey sales. It's a global industry that increases the reach of the different sports in the world. Because of the size of the industry, and the influence of the leagues themselves, you'll see people wearing Chicago Bulls jerseys in China, Milwaukee Brewers jerseys in Tokyo, and Man U jerseys in San Francisco. It's truly a remarkable thing.
But one thing about sports jerseys is certain, some are more popular than others. People like winners and people like iconic franchises. You will often see more jerseys of a few particular teams than any other jerseys combined. It's because these franchises have built a legacy, have built a devoted fanbase, and more importantly, have built a brand.
So what are the most iconic sports jerseys of all time? Read on and find out, and chime in with your classics if you so choose...
25 FC Barcelona
Though FC Barcelona does have an alternate jersey with a different color scheme, the colors. logo and jersey of Barcelona's home kit – a kit that has remained largely the same since 1910 – are iconic in the world of soccer. They're one of the most decoarted clubs in soccer history and have had incredible success over the last decade. Boasting all-world players like Lionel Messi and Neymar on their roster, Barcelona sell millions of a jersey around the world.
24 USC Trojans
Whether they're up or down – more down as of late – people around the world know USC football. The University of Southern California has built a lasting empire, and one that despite their recent troubles, continues to grow. Everybody knows the cardinal and gold that the Men of Troy wear on the field.
23 AC Milan
Established in 1899, AC Milan has spent more than a decade building a reputation for excellence. With seven Champions League titles, second only to real Madrid, the Rossoneri are one of the most accomplished clubs in history. Throughout the club's entire history, they have sported their famous red and black jerseys -- the colors chosen to represent the player's fire and passion (red) and the fear of their opponents (black). Their widely recognized jersey and colors have also led to one of the club's nicknames -- il Diavolo (the devil).
22 FC Bayern Munich
FC Bayern Munich was born in 1900 and since that time, their uniform has gone through a plethora of changes. Though, the current incarnation of the Bayern Munich home kit -- the red and blue striped jerseys have their roots as far back as the late 1960's. They have different kits for seemingly every different tournament they participate in, though those tend to be predominantly red , but it's the red and blue striped jersey that most people tend to think of when talking about this iconic franchise.
21 Boston Bruins
One of the NHL's Original Six, the Bruins' black, gold and white uniform color scheme has remained essentially the same since their founding in 1924. There have been several variations of the Bruins' logo since the 20's, but most people will undoubtedly identify the Bruins with their current logo and jersey design. And with good reason, it's a clean, simple, and classic looking jersey.
20 Real Madrid CF
According to a survey conducted by Siemens AG, Real Madrid has more than 450 million fans around the world – which makes it a pretty popular club. It's also reportedly one of the richest soccer clubs in the world as well and with good reason. They are the most successful club in European soccer, with nine Champions League victories. Los Blancos' logo and jersey design has gone through very slight and subtle changes over the years, but it's basic logo has been in effect since 1908. It's recognizable and quite obviously, very popular.
19 New Zealand All Blacks
Most people in North America call rugby a niche sport, one that not a lot of people know much about. And while that may be true in our next of the woods, even the most rugby-illiterate people will know what an All Black's jersey looks like. It's one of the simplest, cleanest, and most recognizable sports jerseys in the world. The only thing that is more recognizable than their jersey is their pre-match routine, which is known as a Haka (a traditional war cry of the people of New Zealand).
18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The University of Notre Dame has enjoyed quite the legacy and mythology. And as a result, its uniform is one that has become instantly recognizable – except when they wear some of their more hideous alternate uniforms. But the basic uniform, navy blue jersey, gold pants, and gold helmet, is one of the most iconic in college football. This storied footballing school had their first season in 1887 and 50 of their players and coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
17 New York Rangers
Founded in 1926, the New York Rangers are another of the NHL's Original Six teams. It is also one of the only clubs in the NHL to be wearing essentially the exact same sweater today as they did when they first began play. The red, white, and blue jerseys with the team name stitched diagonally across the breast hasn't changed in a very long time. Though they've added some alternate uniforms, the classic Rangers sweater is one of hockey's most iconic looks.
16 Arsenal FC
The Gunners began play in 1886 – that's 128 years ago, if you're scoring at home. Which is to say that it's a really, really long time. The current incarnation of Arsenal's classic kit – the red jersey with white sleeves – started back in the 1930's when Herbert Chapman updated the redcurrant kit the team began life with. It's since become one of the most iconic in professional soccer.
15 Chicago Bears
Team founder George Halas borrowed the Chicago Bears' colors – dark navy, orange, and white – from his alma mater, the University of Illinois after moving the club to Wrigley Field in 1921. Though the team has only one Super Bowl title to its credit, it is one of the league's most storied and iconic franchises. And it's jersey is easily recognizable around the world.
14 Brazil's National Team
When you see the bright yellow jersey with the green collar and blue shorts , you know you're looking at the Brazilian national soccer team. Brazil has been one of the most dominant teams in World Cup play, winning five titles since its inception – more than any other team on the planet. With that sort of success, it's not difficult to see why their national team's jersey has become one of the sport's most iconic.
13 Green Bay Packers
From Bart Starr to Brett Favre, the Packers have built a reputation as one of the NFL's most iconic franchises. Their – ahem – hideous throwback jerseys remind us of their humble origins and make us thankful that in the 1950's, the team adopted the current incarnation of green and gold as the team's colors, the iconic “G” in the logo, as well as the clean, classic look of their uniforms. It's one of the NFL's most recognizable and iconic jerseys.
12 Manchester United
Man U began play in 1878 as the Newton Heath Football Club – they adopted the name Manchester United in 1902. Since that time, Man U has gone on to become one of the most dominant – and popular – soccer teams in the premier league. Aside from small, subtle changes, Man U's home kit has gone largely unchanged since the team actually became Man U, and with hundreds of millions of fans around the world, has gone on to be one of the most recognizable jerseys in pro sports today.
11 Chicago Cubs
They began play as the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and have become known as baseball's loveable losers. It's been far longer than a century since the Cubs have won anything of note (thanks Steve Bartman) and they aren't anywhere close to winning anything soon. However, that hasn't prevented their jerseys from being one of the most recognizable and iconic in professional sports.
10 Penn State Nittany Lions
It's clean, simple, and understated, much like the man who built the program into what it became, Joe Paterno. Though Paterno's legacy is in ruins, his reputation in tatters, Penn State's very minimalistic blue home jersey and plain white helmet remain iconic in the world of college football.
9 Montreal Canadiens
Les Habitants began play as one of the NHL's Original Six in 1909. The basic red, white and blue color scheme, as well as the interlocking “C” and “H” on the sweater – the H actually standing for “hockey” and not “habitants” as is a popular misconception – is one of sports oldest and most recognizable designs. With the most Stanley Cups in NHL history at 24 and 18 retired numbers, the Canadiens are the most storied franchise in league history.
8 Dallas Cowboys
It's an incredibly simple, basic jersey. White with blue striping and numbers. Aside from the names on the back, there really are no other identifying markings. That's the true beauty of this jersey, it's simple and classic. Doesn't matter though, if you're a football fan, you know the instant you see it, that it belongs to the Dallas Cowboys. That alone is enough to make it one of the NFL's most iconic jerseys.
7 Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings began play in 1926 as the Detroit Cougars, becoming the Detroit Falcons in 1930, and finally becoming the Wings in 1932. In large part, the winged wheel has remained unchanged since the club adopted the Red Wings nickname. With their classic red jersey with white trim, it's easily one of sports most recognizable jerseys and logos and has been honored as one of the league's best logos. They've qualified for the playoffs for the last 23 years, the longest streak in North American sports, so putting on this jersey definitely means something.
6 Los Angeles Dodgers
They didn't begin life in LA, but the Dodgers jersey began to look much like it does today back when the team played in Brooklyn. In uniform designs, you can see that aside from the B on the cap, the Dodgers uniform looks largely unchanged since the late 1930's. It's a clean, simple design and one that baseball fans around the world recognize in an instant. It's one of baseball's most iconic uniforms – perhaps second only to the Yankees.
5 Boston Celtics
The Celtics are one of the NBA's most storied franchises who were formed pretty late in comparison to other teams on this list, in 1946. Their battles with the Lakers are legendary and with 17 championships to their credit, they are one of basketball's winningest franchises as well. In order to win that many championships, you need to have elite players and the Celtics have that in spades, with 21 retired numbers. The green and white jerseys are classic and one of the NBA's most iconic.
4 Pittsburgh Steelers
Who doesn't look at the black and gold jersey and automatically know that they're looking at a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey? An era of utter dominance will make your jersey pretty recognizable, that's for sure. The Steelers had that in the 70s, when they won four championships in four Super Bowl appearances. Though their black home jerseys are among the league's most iconic, somebody should tell them to scrap those hideous bumble bee throwback jerseys. Seriously.
3 Los Angeles Lakers
Like the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Lakers began life elsewhere, in Minneapolis to be exact. They were founded in 1946 with powder blue jerseys, but when they moved westward, in 1960, they adopted the iconic purple and gold jerseys, began an intense rivalry with the Boston Celtics, and began winning championships hand over fist, 16 to be exact, making themselves one of the NBA's most iconic franchises.
2 Oakland Raiders
Though they've fallen on hard times of late, but the Raiders brand remains strong, loyal, and global. You're as likely to see somebody in Germany wearing a Raiders jersey as you are to see them in Oakland these days. The brand is strong, the team is building toward better days, and the classic silver and black jersey, clean and simple in design, remains one of the NFL's most iconic.
1 New York Yankees
There is perhaps no other jersey in any other sport as instantly recognizable and iconic as the one belonging to the New York Yankees. Having been worn by some of sports biggest stars, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and more than I have room here to list, the Yanks' pinstripes are a classic look that many teams have tried and failed to imitate. New York's jersey is the most iconic in all of pro sports and is instantly recognizable.