Top 12 Football Referee Uniform Trends

Sep 12th, 2016

We reviewed thousands of football officials' orders this season and discovered what products are trending in their categories.

If you are looking for a purchase and want to make sure you fit in with your crew, below are your best bets for the 2016 season.

1. SHIRTS: Wide Stripe 2" Shirts and 2 1/4" Shirts

Wide Stripe Football Referee Shirts
This is the easy trending pick. Over 70% of football referee shirts sold this season have been the wider stripe variety. Find over 20+ styles here including the 2 1/4" flag over chest style used in various states including California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Utah.

2. PANTS: Smitty 4-Way Stretch

Smitty Football Referee Pants
While Smitty's Warm Weather (polyester) style remains the most popular due to its lower price point, the 4-Way Stretch has been so popular it's starting to sell out in some sizes. Get yours now before it's too late.

3. BELTS: 1 3/4 Leather (NOT Patent) Belt

After reporting a trend in football officials last season toward the patent leather belt, football officials are now making the 1 3/4 leather belt this year their most preferred.

4. CAPS: Performance Fabric Caps

Richardson Performance Referee Cap
We've encouraged this style for the last several years as the best in look, performance and price. The 70% sales increase in Richardson PULSE and Smitty FlexPLUS styles and a 25% decrease of mesh styles since last year reveal you are getting the message.
New Balance Base Shoes
It's not surprising that the all-black low-cut (the AK2 above) has been the most popular among the new 2016 lineup that also includes mid-cut and black & varieties with MLB logo. The AK2s sport a NB logo instead.
Force3 Socks
It's been 5 years since the switch to black pants. What black socks are most officials wearing? At the rate of 4 for every 5 pairs, they are going over-the-calf instead of crew. Most popular are the Force3 Ultimate Socks.

7. PENALTY FLAGS: Officials Flags n' Bags Yellow Flag with Black Ball Center

Referee Penalty Flag
Trending each year since the arrival of black pants, sales of the NFL style black ball center flag are almost half of all flag sales - quite a lot when you have over 11 styles.

8. THROW DOWN BAGS: Skinny Black & Blue

Referee Throw Down Bag
Of the multiple styles and colors of throw down bags, the style that's trending is the skinny (up 58% over last year) and the most popular colors are black and blue.

9. DOWN INDICATOR: The Sweatband Indicator

Sweatband Referee Indicator
While the standard Velcro style remains the most popular, the sweatband indicators are trending for the second year in a row - up 28% over last season. Of the 2 lengths, the 3" is the go-to size at the rate of 3 to 1 over the 5".

While the Fox40 Classic is still king, since arriving on the scene this season, the sporty EPIK whistles have quickly become the 2nd top-selling style. Also available in pink and most popular all-black.
Magnetic Umpire / Referee Wallet
One of our most popular football items of the year, football officials are finding these durable wallets a must for convenient on-field record-keeping.
Refsmart Referee Timer
Timer sales are up 34% this season from last as these RefSmart timers are ready-to-go out of the box and quick to learn how to use.
Force3 Umpire / Referee Shoe Bag
An easy addition to any order, these newer shoe bags in standard and XL sizes have become the most popular items in its category.

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About the Author

Picture of Jim Kirk

President Jim Kirk

Jim is a leading expert, educator and author on umpire gear, safety & appearance. After playing baseball at Centre College, he worked as a high school umpire during the Elbeco shirt years. He became involved in E-Commerce while working on an MBA in the early 2000s and bought in 2006, He eventually led it to the leading umpire gear & attire retailer worldwide and a “Best Places to Work in Louisville” honor in 2020. He maintains long-standing relationships with Minor League Baseball Umpire Development & Training Academy and the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). He serves as an adviser to UMPS CARE Charities, the charity of MLB umpires, served as a 2-term board of director from 2012-2018, and was named their 2015 Ambassador Award recipient. A supporter since the inception of the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, he was named to their Board of Directors in 2020.


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