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BlueSky: 1 - The mesh side panel is a performance feature, yes. When it was first designed, we only had the cutoff angle version, but that has since been opened up to the full stripe. 2 - It does have an impact on the way we design the pant, since we have to work with the seam areas and we're limited with the type of production we can do on top of the mesh - this is mainly sublimation. 3 - For the most part, we try and do some mix and matching, but yes, it's a lot of the time the client who requests the number of combos.

VJ_Heck: Welcome to the site. The reason they gave me was that they didn't want to touch an iconic logo associated with the school and state of Wyoming. They were also concerned about the legal issues surrounding that. And yes, it was a project I began before starting at Nike. They were kind enough to allow me to continue working on it while employed at the Swoosh, as well as to pursue submitting it to Wyoming. It was something that had to be discussed with legal as well as the GIG group first, but they let me go ahead with it.

Chawls: Most definitely, I'll chime in when my stuff comes out. It will also go up on my website at that point.

dmhtfld: 1 - That's just it - it was a seam issue. I seem to recall that there was discussion about having it go all the way up, but I want to say either tOSU decided against that or that it was a production issue. That pant seam was actually widened to accommodate a wider pant stripe in line with the helmet stripe. 2 - That's a production issue. Stripes on a mesh panel can't be produced any way other than by screen printing or by sublimation, the same with the sleeve stripe. Those production methods don't support metallic inks or dyes. 3 - Tough question, because I really love what was done for that. I don't know that I'd really change anything...4 - If you want to do uniform or apparel design, a traditional graphic design degree would serve you well. If you attend a university with major athletics, I would try to get a job working there while you're in school or shortly after you graduate. That's a great way to get into the sports design field.

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Here's a random question in advance of the Army/Navy game: what map did you use for the pattern on USMA's uniforms? I know their history department has produced battlefield maps in-house, it would be very cool if the map used in the uniform was one created at West Point.

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Gfonk04: that map is a map of the battle of te bulge. I know the designer asked the usma for a map but surprisingly they couldn't provide one with the level of detail needed, so this one was found from a different source of WWII maps.

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Gfonk04: that map is a map of the battle of te bulge. I know the designer asked the usma for a map but surprisingly they couldn't provide one with the level of detail needed, so this one was found from a different source of WWII maps.

Gotcha, I think it looks great, it walks the line between subtle and distinct perfectly. I'd love to see something like that incorporated into Navy in the future, but most naval battles look pretty similar, just a blue background... I also saw some photos of Navy's helmet, and it looks like the anchor on the helmet is oriented properly, something I mentioned in another thread. Very nice work on both uniforms.

Here's one for you, not sure if you can answer, but working for Nike, are you paid a salary regardless of how many (or few) projects you have, or is it based on the job(s) you're doing? (You can be general if you don't want talk about your specifics, which I totally understand.)

Do you no kidding work FOR Nike, or are sort of like a contractor who gets a call from them when they have a specific job?

How about workload? Are you pretty much always working on something, do you handle numerous projects at once or just one at a time?

And how long does it take (generally) to complete a project from first sketch to final prototype?

You may have answered some of these questions already, but I have a short attention span...

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As a former collegiate and arena football player, I worked at Nike Retail Inc. and I know for a FACT that ALL of the features in Nike products are FUNCTIONAL. Design elements are not there to look "marketable." Now I see why Nike doesn't look at this site because "Uncle" Phil has enough arrogant employees already on the Bowerman campus. As a designer, "there is no finish line," guys just keep working hard!

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Interesting.

Look, having worked on a "thing" or two in my day, I'm sympathetic to the over-arching idea gordie_delini is trying to get across; that being that there are parameters that constrict any design job. And the physical construction of Nike's football uniforms is one of those parameters to work around.

I have no difficulty reconciling that Nike is both an earnest athletic apparel innovator and also a lifestyle fashion firm looking to cook up new looks conveniently once per season for their own sakes. Every company is like this. Apple needs to find a "reason" for you to upgrade to each iteration of their iPhone product. And taken at each interval the "upgrades" feel gimmicky. But the net-net of the equation is an upward trend in quality/performance/design and function. The current iPhone is much better than the first one. And if I were a player I'd much rather wear contemporary Nike football uniforms than the ill-fitting, heavy soggy garbage I wore in high school; there is no question about that.

However, I don't grant Nike or any uniform designers total absolution for how the end product "looks" just because of those challenges. The iPhone is also one of the most gorgeous devices ever produced by the hands of man and Apple understands as well as any company how important form and function both are, and how they must work together.

THere are some unnattractive consequences of the new Nike football templates. And one of the questions I'D like to follow up on directly relates to that form v function issue. It's been repeated over and over again in this thread that most of the decisions get made during the design phase and there are seldom more than one phase of prototyping done. For the record, that has been my experience as well. But I've never designed a football uniform. And I think that's an important distinction to make.

Aside from the occassional goalie cut on a hockey sweater, designing uniforms for baseball, hockey, basketball et al can be a singular act regardless of the size of the athlete. The design aspects of the jersey and pants scale similarly for short athletes, tall athletes, trim athletes or husky athletes....I’m generalizing of course but more or less everyone wears a slightly different size of the same garment.

Football, over the course of the past 20 years, has become an entirely different animal. From what I understand we're dealing with what? 3 entirely different overrall cuts for football jerseys? I could be wrong. Please feel free to correct me. It looks to the naked eye like QBs and kickers get one cut. OL and DL another virtually tanktop style? And then one for your average position players? I imagine back in the day the cuts (from MacGregor-SandKnit or whomever) were essentially all the same and whatever differences showed up on the field were customized by the equipment manager(s) as needed. Whether it was putting elastic into the side panels, cuffing the sleeves, slitting the underarms or sewing in a hand warmer...that stuff all used to be done ala carte from a single jersey cut. ( I suspect).

My problem, to the extent that I have one..is that from a DESIGN persective....football uniforms appear to be designed to the highest common denominator. The template usually looks its very best on a RB or CB who is 5'11" and 200lbs and if you give them a little bit more sleeve to work with. But the majority of players (or at least half the players) on the field at any given time do not look like that. Take your average OT and whatever sleeve element you spent so much time designing is missing or tucked underneath the pads. The new lighter fabrics not only accumulate sweat in unsightly places but the lighter numerals stretch in grotesque and unreadable ways. And rather than anticipate some of this, the designs just cram all the elements into the space provided. THIS is where I would argue one of the necessary steps would be repeated prototyping and revisions for things that cannot be anticipated in Adobe Illustrator.

On less acreage to work with, the TV numerals encroach within a hair of the manufacturer logo which in turn encroaches on the sleeve stripe or alternate logo. I’m unclear how this is not deemed immediately unacceptable unless everyone involved willfully ignores it by not really prototyping for the nearly sleeveless player.

Anyone in the process can claim the results aren't their "fault". Anyone in the process can say, "What do you expect from me? The guys all want different length sleeves. The team wants this. The vendor wants this. Etc". And I understand those things. But none of those truths excuse the results. A designers job (as well as an engineer's job) is to solve problems. And these problems are not being addressed. And I suspect (no conspiracy or anti-corporate rant herein) that the issue (perhaps above your pay grade a tad) is that the existing RETAIL model for jersey sales is still a 1990s one with huge sleeves. I'm accusing (if you want to call it that) Nike and all the rest… of designing a retail elbow-length T-shirt product (in the over-the-counter jersey) and shoe-horning the actual football equipment version as best they can after the fact. Because the retail version of an NFL jersey used to be very much the same thing as an on-field jersey. Innovations and trends have made that very much NOT the case anymore. And I think all fans and players accept that on both aesthetic and a performance basis.

But everyone knows sales of jerseys would fall off precipitously if only available over-the-counter jerseys looked like the real thing. Who is going to wear a tank top unless they have 30" biceps to show off?

To the extent that what I'm describing is just part of the business? That it is what it is? I totally agree. It is certainly not a designer's job to stop the marketing machine dead in its tracks or throw a fit and quit your plum job on integrity grounds. I do not mean that and do not mean to besmirch. I, in fact, rather like the sleeveless look. But it just seems logical to me...that the solution is to do everything possible to design from the lowest common denominator. I would say, Look. We have to design these things so that they first look good on BJ Raji and from that point we KNOW it'll look great on Aaron Rodgers….and from there we’ll figure out a fan-friendly facsimile for sale. If it means re-evaluating whether TV numerals are necessary? So be it. If it means telling a team they have to choose between UCLA stripes OR TV numbers because we cannot to both justice and that the old methodology is hurting both? So be it.

Whatever the solutions are, it's simply isn't good enough (for Nike, not you individually) to claim that the tech side does what they do and the design side does what they do… under tech's thumb. You're in a tough spot...caught between the team's desires and the limitations inherent in your own product. I do not deny it.

But there is very little denying the current situation is not optimal. This website can be...juvenile or inarticulate at times to be sure. Every internet site can. But criticism of these uniforms (the way they LOOK) is pretty widespread and mainstream. That doesn't happen with truly great design. I'm sorry . It doesn't. People hate Apple for a million valid and invalid reasons. But not their design.

I can look forward to a day 30 years from now (provided football is even legal) where our notion of a uniform barely even involves "fabric" as we know them today. And certainly uniform traditionalists are going to have to come to terms with the fact that nothing stays the same in life. I'm not being a Luddite here. But uniform manufacturers...particularly football ones....are not currently (in my opinion) currently meeting us half way. They are not actually taking the challenge of the 21st century football uniform head on. They are stuck in a ‘tweener phase…beholden to both sides and satisfying none.That's just my 2 cents. Congrats on the job. Thank you for sharing and the VERY best of luck to you.

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that is a very insightful post Sterling and besides the point of "That doesn't happen with truly great design" (a debate for another time) i agree with everything. i've been saying for years that so many old design elements are being shoehorned into modern templates, and the end result is something that looks terrible at worst and inconsistant at best. people go on about "the Colts should have stripes that go all the way around the arm" but thats backwards thinking. that was a solution for a different problem. those solutions dont work anymore. the problems have changed, and so should the design.

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that is a very insightful post Sterling and besides the point of "That doesn't happen with truly great design" (a debate for another time) i agree with everything. i've been saying for years that so many old design elements are being shoehorned into modern templates, and the end result is something that looks terrible at worst and inconsistant at best. people go on about "the Colts should have stripes that go all the way around the arm" but thats backwards thinking. that was a solution for a different problem. those solutions dont work anymore. the problems have changed, and so should the design.

Maybe. I think what everyone can agree on is that there are times when the old design aesthetics and the new performance templates don't mesh. I guess what a lot of us aren't sure about is the amount of effort that's been put into an attempt to get the two to come together, before the current mishmash was settled on. It doesn't seem ridiculous to me to think that, with the amount of thought going into the details of these designs, there isn't a better solution than just chopping off the stripes at a seam. (It’s the old "we can put a man on the moon, why can't we..." bit.)

Another question is, who is supposed to care more, the team or the uniform manufacturer? To follow the Colts example a little further, here's what seems to have happened; Way back when the shoulders/sleeves of the uniforms started shrinking, the Colts probably didn't even notice. It was an incremental thing… kind of like the guy who has been combing his hair the same way for years, and at 50 suddenly realizes he has the comb-over he always swore he’d never have. Now the change seems obvious, but the Colts are apparently very interested in at least appearing to have not changed their design. The manufacturer might ask if they want a new design, the team says no, the manufacturer says here’s how your traditional look will appear on our template, the Colts say good enough, and both sides walk away. If the team doesn’t insist on a better solution, should the manufacturer? I think that’s what Sterling means when he says "That doesn't happen with truly great design". If a team is that set on keeping the look they’ve always had, is it incumbent on the designer to work harder to adjust?

Maybe you’re right, maybe it’s just a square peg / round hole deal. If so, the real question is… who needs to change? The peg or the hole?

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that is a very insightful post Sterling and besides the point of "That doesn't happen with truly great design" (a debate for another time) i agree with everything. i've been saying for years that so many old design elements are being shoehorned into modern templates, and the end result is something that looks terrible at worst and inconsistant at best. people go on about "the Colts should have stripes that go all the way around the arm" but thats backwards thinking. that was a solution for a different problem. those solutions dont work anymore. the problems have changed, and so should the design.

Maybe. I think what everyone can agree on is that there are times when the old design aesthetics and the new performance templates don't mesh. I guess what a lot of us aren't sure about is the amount of effort that's been put into an attempt to get the two to come together, before the current mishmash was settled on. It doesn't seem ridiculous to me to think that, with the amount of thought going into the details of these designs, there isn't a better solution than just chopping off the stripes at a seam. (It’s the old "we can put a man on the moon, why can't we..." bit.)

Another question is, who is supposed to care more, the team or the uniform manufacturer? To follow the Colts example a little further, here's what seems to have happened; Way back when the shoulders/sleeves of the uniforms started shrinking, the Colts probably didn't even notice. It was an incremental thing… kind of like the guy who has been combing his hair the same way for years, and at 50 suddenly realizes he has the comb-over he always swore he’d never have. Now the change seems obvious, but the Colts are apparently very interested in at least appearing to have not changed their design. The manufacturer might ask if they want a new design, the team says no, the manufacturer says here’s how your traditional look will appear on our template, the Colts say good enough, and both sides walk away. If the team doesn’t insist on a better solution, should the manufacturer? I think that’s what Sterling means when he says "That doesn't happen with truly great design". If a team is that set on keeping the look they’ve always had, is it incumbent on the designer to work harder to adjust?

Maybe you’re right, maybe it’s just a square peg / round hole deal. If so, the real question is… who needs to change? The peg or the hole?

form follows function. if the jersey is the best it can be, then the graphic design should work with it, not against it.

EDIT - i didnt quite word that correctly. form always follows function; you design for what you have at hand with the product. if the product is meant to have a long life (logo) or a short one (anniversary logo) then adjust accordingly, but people designing uniforms in the 1940s never designed their stripes to fit a Nike Speed Machine. they designed those to look good forever on what they had. when the product/problem changes, then the solution needs to as well. at the very least, be adjusted and thats what we have with truncated stripes with LSU, the Colts, etc. i think that is a good adjustment.

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No, it is not a good adjustment. A compelling argument has not been made that Nike/Reebok/Adidas are unable to loop stripes around. As for the actual function of Nike's new materials and templates, I'm not going to get into an argument again on whether they provide an actual advantage and how much of one. Regardless, Nike could very easily create a panel allowing the stripes to go to the bottom of the armhole (even if they don't connect under the arm). They don't because it would break with their established template.

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No, it is not a good adjustment. A compelling argument has not been made that Nike/Reebok/Adidas are unable to loop stripes around. As for the actual function of Nike's new materials and templates, I'm not going to get into an argument again on whether they provide an actual advantage and how much of one. Regardless, Nike could very easily create a panel allowing the stripes to go to the bottom of the armhole (even if they don't connect under the arm). They don't because it would break with their established template.

Alright, I know I said I was done with this thread so as to not drift further into technology but...

Reebok:

nfl_g_mb_newton_600.jpg

Nike:

121211_newton_cp.jpg

Manufacturers can do it. Teams don't implement it because, I assume, there is so much extra material around the arms. Players have jerseys tailored after receiving them to further reduce the material around the arms and neck because, for many, it's annoying to play with and (especially on the lines) a competitive disadvantage.

So yes, the design and manufacturing of jerseys allows for full UCLA-style sleeve loops, but the application has been deemed a disadvantage by players.

Sorry for the derailing, continue as you were.

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No, it is not a good adjustment. A compelling argument has not been made that Nike/Reebok/Adidas are unable to loop stripes around. As for the actual function of Nike's new materials and templates, I'm not going to get into an argument again on whether they provide an actual advantage and how much of one. Regardless, Nike could very easily create a panel allowing the stripes to go to the bottom of the armhole (even if they don't connect under the arm). They don't because it would break with their established template.

Alright, I know I said I was done with this thread so as to not drift further into technology but...

Reebok:

nfl_g_mb_newton_600.jpg

Nike:

121211_newton_cp.jpg

Manufacturers can do it. Teams don't implement it because, I assume, there is so much extra material around the arms. Players have jerseys tailored after receiving them to further reduce the material around the arms and neck because, for many, it's annoying to play with and (especially on the lines) a competitive disadvantage.

So yes, the design and manufacturing of jerseys allows for full UCLA-style sleeve loops, but the application has been deemed a disadvantage by players.

Sorry for the derailing, continue as you were.

since the panthers opted to stay with their traditional uniforms I'm pretty sure the manufacturer is the same as last year and the only change was the logo.

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No, it is not a good adjustment. A compelling argument has not been made that Nike/Reebok/Adidas are unable to loop stripes around. As for the actual function of Nike's new materials and templates, I'm not going to get into an argument again on whether they provide an actual advantage and how much of one. Regardless, Nike could very easily create a panel allowing the stripes to go to the bottom of the armhole (even if they don't connect under the arm). They don't because it would break with their established template.

Manufacturers can do it. Teams don't implement it because, I assume, there is so much extra material around the arms. Players have jerseys tailored after receiving them to further reduce the material around the arms and neck because, for many, it's annoying to play with and (especially on the lines) a competitive disadvantage.

So yes, the design and manufacturing of jerseys allows for full UCLA-style sleeve loops, but the application has been deemed a disadvantage by players.

No. First off, only a handful of Panthers players have the loops which go around like that anymore. Newton, Steve Smith, maybe a few other receivers and DBs. The rest have stripes which go down to the sleeve cuff, which is what I am proposing should be done for the Jets and Colts. If you are arguing that Nike and Reebok showed those teams mockups with stripes down to the cuff and they said "No, we don't want .5 ounces more fabric", you are fooling yourself. Now, it would NOT be additional fabric to begin with. Maybe a tiny bit more for each seam, but those inserts are not sewn on top of the jerseys, they are separate sections. There is nothing beneath them. So there would be a miniscule amount of additional fabric and thread. Considering Nike's template du jour has several pointless seams, I don't think an extra few seams would greatly weigh down the fabric.

The Panthers are very particular about their uniforms, which is why they have resisted changing them and insisted on the previous materials and templates. Because of that, Nike and Reebok gave in and did what they wanted. The Chargers were the same way before they switch to the current crappy set. No Charger had a shoulder loop which stopped at the chest seam. Even when the Chargers wore throwbacks in 2009, Reebok was still able to make the stripes go down to the cuff, because the Chargers told them they had to in order to make the bolt look acceptable.

2011-08-19_092349_Chargers_throwbacks.jpg

Look at #95 above. That is how the Colts and Jets should look. The Chargers and Panthers were persistent about not wanting to compromise their look (until the Chargers threw a bunch of crap in the blender and came up with their current stuff). Colts and Jets probably could have respectable looks still had they sat through the companies' sales pitch about the perils of full stripes and signed disclaimers stating that those jersey would weigh the players down.

It's another situation where both the teams and manufacturers were to blame. You know the Chargers were shown pervious jerseys with the bolts being 6 inches in length, but they told Reebok (at the time) that was unacceptable. The Colts and Jets just took whatever was given to them. Still, the fact that it could be done with the Panthers and Chargers means Reebok/Nike should have done it with the Colts and Jets instead of compromising their looks.

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Not sure if this thread is even still running (I'm always a week or two late to a good party), but if you're still fielding Q's:

You mentioned that on many occasions, to avoid the "too many chefs" issue, a uniform will be designed by one designer. Obviously, a ton of research and work has gone into just prepping for a damn design, let alone throwing something together for what might be a pretty prestigious or well regarded university / team / etc. I'm curious as to how the process works for the designer in question when that first proposal is particularly ill received by the client?

Maybe you haven't personally had that experience directly at Nike, but in my travels working for a university, often times when that first pitch is really disliked, it can set a super negative tone for the process if the designer / design team doesn't handle and approach the feedback (or skewering) the right way. How have you (or others you've seen, or just hypothetically) handled the moment in the meeting when the client gives you a big "meh"? Especially one of the clout and merit and prestige of some of your group's clients (as opposed to my experience with some low-level department professor :P).

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No, it is not a good adjustment. A compelling argument has not been made that Nike/Reebok/Adidas are unable to loop stripes around. As for the actual function of Nike's new materials and templates, I'm not going to get into an argument again on whether they provide an actual advantage and how much of one. Regardless, Nike could very easily create a panel allowing the stripes to go to the bottom of the armhole (even if they don't connect under the arm). They don't because it would break with their established template.

1. i disagree for reasons stated. truncated stripes are a fine solution.

2. i was arguing not that the manufacturer COULDN'T do it but that they SHOULDN'T. for reasons stated previously

No, it is not a good adjustment. A compelling argument has not been made that Nike/Reebok/Adidas are unable to loop stripes around. As for the actual function of Nike's new materials and templates, I'm not going to get into an argument again on whether they provide an actual advantage and how much of one. Regardless, Nike could very easily create a panel allowing the stripes to go to the bottom of the armhole (even if they don't connect under the arm). They don't because it would break with their established template.

Manufacturers can do it. Teams don't implement it because, I assume, there is so much extra material around the arms. Players have jerseys tailored after receiving them to further reduce the material around the arms and neck because, for many, it's annoying to play with and (especially on the lines) a competitive disadvantage.

So yes, the design and manufacturing of jerseys allows for full UCLA-style sleeve loops, but the application has been deemed a disadvantage by players.

No. First off, only a handful of Panthers players have the loops which go around like that anymore. Newton, Steve Smith, maybe a few other receivers and DBs. The rest have stripes which go down to the sleeve cuff, which is what I am proposing should be done for the Jets and Colts. If you are arguing that Nike and Reebok showed those teams mockups with stripes down to the cuff and they said "No, we don't want .5 ounces more fabric", you are fooling yourself. Now, it would NOT be additional fabric to begin with. Maybe a tiny bit more for each seam, but those inserts are not sewn on top of the jerseys, they are separate sections. There is nothing beneath them. So there would be a miniscule amount of additional fabric and thread. Considering Nike's template du jour has several pointless seams, I don't think an extra few seams would greatly weigh down the fabric.

The Panthers are very particular about their uniforms, which is why they have resisted changing them and insisted on the previous materials and templates. Because of that, Nike and Reebok gave in and did what they wanted. The Chargers were the same way before they switch to the current crappy set. No Charger had a shoulder loop which stopped at the chest seam. Even when the Chargers wore throwbacks in 2009, Reebok was still able to make the stripes go down to the cuff, because the Chargers told them they had to in order to make the bolt look acceptable.

2011-08-19_092349_Chargers_throwbacks.jpg

Look at #95 above. That is how the Colts and Jets should look. The Chargers and Panthers were persistent about not wanting to compromise their look (until the Chargers threw a bunch of crap in the blender and came up with their current stuff). Colts and Jets probably could have respectable looks still had they sat through the companies' sales pitch about the perils of full stripes and signed disclaimers stating that those jersey would weigh the players down.

It's another situation where both the teams and manufacturers were to blame. You know the Chargers were shown pervious jerseys with the bolts being 6 inches in length, but they told Reebok (at the time) that was unacceptable. The Colts and Jets just took whatever was given to them. Still, the fact that it could be done with the Panthers and Chargers means Reebok/Nike should have done it with the Colts and Jets instead of compromising their looks.

good for Reebok on those Chargers jerseys. if the same treatment were to be applied to the Colts/Jets, you're probably looking at a tapered stripe on both ends. like how Dwight Freeney tailored his Reebok jerseys (dosnt do it with the Nike ones now). is that better? i think not, but maybe some would like it. but you're proposing they wrap all the way around yet, you see the problem with the Panthers currently. its not the same with those Charger ones, they're not going all the way around the arm. when you try, like the Panthers do, you get the inconsistency from player to player. this is exactly what Sterling wrote about above and that is flawed design. solutions have to change with the problems.

also, the Colts wernt 100% fully looped even back in the Unitas days. sometimes . . .

johnny_unitas_feature_display_image.jpg?1302908388

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No. First off, only a handful of Panthers players have the loops which go around like that anymore. Newton, Steve Smith, maybe a few other receivers and DBs. The rest have stripes which go down to the sleeve cuff, which is what I am proposing should be done for the Jets and Colts. If you are arguing that Nike and Reebok showed those teams mockups with stripes down to the cuff and they said "No, we don't want .5 ounces more fabric", you are fooling yourself. Now, it would NOT be additional fabric to begin with. Maybe a tiny bit more for each seam, but those inserts are not sewn on top of the jerseys, they are separate sections. There is nothing beneath them. So there would be a miniscule amount of additional fabric and thread. Considering Nike's template du jour has several pointless seams, I don't think an extra few seams would greatly weigh down the fabric.

The Panthers are very particular about their uniforms, which is why they have resisted changing them and insisted on the previous materials and templates. Because of that, Nike and Reebok gave in and did what they wanted. The Chargers were the same way before they switch to the current crappy set. No Charger had a shoulder loop which stopped at the chest seam. Even when the Chargers wore throwbacks in 2009, Reebok was still able to make the stripes go down to the cuff, because the Chargers told them they had to in order to make the bolt look acceptable.

2011-08-19_092349_Chargers_throwbacks.jpg

Look at #95 above. That is how the Colts and Jets should look. The Chargers and Panthers were persistent about not wanting to compromise their look (until the Chargers threw a bunch of crap in the blender and came up with their current stuff). Colts and Jets probably could have respectable looks still had they sat through the companies' sales pitch about the perils of full stripes and signed disclaimers stating that those jersey would weigh the players down.

It's another situation where both the teams and manufacturers were to blame. You know the Chargers were shown pervious jerseys with the bolts being 6 inches in length, but they told Reebok (at the time) that was unacceptable. The Colts and Jets just took whatever was given to them. Still, the fact that it could be done with the Panthers and Chargers means Reebok/Nike should have done it with the Colts and Jets instead of compromising their looks.

That's not in the least what I'm arguing. From a player perspective, the additional fabric like on Newton and Smith is an additional surface to grab, tug, whatever. From a team perspective, I'd imagine owners don't give a damn. For those that do, that's where you see Newton and Smith, and NIke will oblige and make what they want (or have someone else make it so that's not an argument, too).

You made exactly the point I've been making with your reference to the Panthers - it's the team's decision to look how they look. Could Nike/Reebok/whoever present a uniform that looked different and had full UCLA/Northwestern/whatever striping? Absolutely. They can and have and do currently do that. It's on the team to have standards which present such a look. The Jets owners, for whatever reason - perhaps a revamp of jerseys in the near future...who knows - chose not to do so. The Colts chose not to do so. Most of the teams chose to just take the template and run with it. Nike isn't forcing anyone to do anything.

At this point, we're just going to disagree. I can't pin fault on Nike for delivering a product that the recipient signs off on especially when Nike/Reebok/whoever has demonstrated that they will deliver a subjectively "better" product.

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I agree unilaterally with oldschoolvikings and BrandMooreArt and TheOldRoman. And if that seems impossible it isn’t. You guys (we) are all right in a sense. Yes, T he changes weren’t born of malice but rather they were incremental over time and due more to ambivalence or carelessness. And YES there is a tremendous undercurrent of backward thinking going on. And yes, the teams share in that responsibility. The teams approve or reject what is put in front of them. The league has its own rules and guidelines. And the manufacturers who are supposedly subordinate to the other two, have their ideas and motivations.

My points (as clumsily as I may have made them) are twofold. 1) When discussing this let’s try and not get hung up on issues of preference or taste as far as Nike goes. Those are better left for other threads about specific teams. I may personally hate the leotard look or any individual teams look, but that is not what frustrates me about Nike. 2) No uniform manufacturer has yet (IMO)embraced the paradigm shift in what a football uniform is becoming.

I jokingly referred to NFL jerseys as tank tops and that isn’t very accurate. It’s closer to a “baby doll” cut in sleeve length (though far stretchier) and I think quickly approaching something like a tactical vest in construction and materials.

Think about it. At one time in the not too distant past, football uniforms didn’t even have helmets. And then once they did have helmets they were of course leather and not adorned with decals, facemasks, numbers or colors. Now the football helmet is drastically different and accordingly is the quintessential starting point for a team’s brand. The process changed with the equipment in a completely logical and utilitarian way. “Hey! Here’s some new prominent, top-down acreage to adorn…and it’s SHINY!!”

Football jerseys were once just heavy long-sleeved rugby style shirts whose only functions were to keep the players from being nude and to tell one team from another.

Over time they became elbow length (then short-sleeved) nylon mesh garments and of course they took on more functions as well like numerals for identifying players for penalties, position eligibility, fan recognition and record keeping purposes. The jerseys also served the useful purpose of concealing (holding in place) the sharp edges, moving parts, buckles and rivets of contemporary shoulder pads.

So football in general and equipment manufacturing specifically adjusted wonderfully to the new branding real estate of the helmet. They have not (perhaps unsurprisingly) reacted similarly to the taking AWAY of uniform real estate formerly known as the sleeve.

I would also attempt to dovetail in a point #3)…or maybe 2b) which is that uniforms should be uniform above all else. Old school or new school…I care not, so long as they match your teammates. I will make allowances for different facemasks by position, visor/no visor…undershirt/bare arms. If that makes me a hypocrite then so be it. The accessorizing that a modern athlete does to their own look is a different issue that is pervasive in all sports.

I have no problems if a team makes the decision to truncate their sleeve stripe to a glorified chevron or flag element if that is what makes sense in the sleeveless 21st century. Off the top of my head I think GB and KC look really good that way for the most part. But if it is a “flag” element like a military uniform might have or perhaps a unique striping pattern like a Scottish clan might have worn. Then I DO have a problem with it not be treated with enough respect to make sure it shows equally on all the players. The Packers were very forward thinking in reducing their five stripe sleeve pattern to a three stripe one over a decade ago. The opposite of that is perhaps the Steelers who can’t seem to come to terms with tweaking their enormous 9 striper to fit the times, or even worse the Lions who rebranded recently and still came out with a gigantic sleeve stripe element that has never looked good. And what kills me is they intentionally made their helmet striping narrower..to dimensions that would fit perfectly on a modern sleeve. Ugh, now I’m breaking my own rules and getting team specific here.

Short versions: I don’t get pissed when stripes are truncated into elongated sleeve flags. It makes “sense” to me. But then IMO uniform designers should tell teams…”This is the new default status quo. This is the most stripe area we can give you while guaranteeing that it’ll still look good. If your design requires anything above and beyond this, we need to remove something else to make accommodate you…namely remove the TV numbers.” TV numbers are an artifact with limited utility. They are born of standard definition days, without a dozen cameras on the field; without wire cameras that put us in the huddle or handhelds on the field of play and sidelines. TV numbers were necessary for spotters, Public Address folks at stadiums and telecasters when it was literally a guy with a pair of binoculars doing the work. That may still be the case somewhere (HS?) but in the NFL everyone has access to laminated roster cheat sheets and a producer in your ear on a headset to relay who just carried the ball or made the tackle. We don’t’ need TV numbers anymore. And the idea that they are even useful anymore when reduced to 3” tall and crammed into an area below the seam and above the cuff? Preposterous. On the shoulders? At 4 or even 5” I still think the look nice. But only if given the space to breathe on a fairly minimalist design. (Think Chiefs, Packers or best of all…GIANTS and RAIDERS homes)

I’m unclear what the current NFL rules are regarding TV numbers. We’ve definitely seen throwbacks without them and the world didn’t end. Moving past them, by either league relaxation of rules or push from Nike, would really free things up in a meaningful way if you ask me. If you’re a traditional team who wants them and doesn’t mind a minimal “flag” striping element or nothing? Great. If you’re the Bengals or Seahawks and you wanna go nuts with tiger stripes or feather motif? Fine. Have at it.

The counterweight to that I think is that (for functional purposes) it’s more vital then that the chest and back numerals are legible and there needs to be a designer push back to ensure that as well. I have some ideas on that but I don’t want to stray too far here.

Last add: RE the flywire. I don’t get it. I do get what it is supposed to DO. But why is that important? Was the jersey getting pulled underneath that flippy top layer of the shoulder pads THAT big of a deal? The scenario where your teammate has to put you back together again after a rough tackle? Is that what we don’t’ want? Or is it that we don’t want to give the opponent easy tackling loose fabric in and around the collar area? Because to me that has been nearly legislated out of existence by the so-called horse collar tackle and the exuberance with which the refs call the horse collar tackle that has basically made it darned near illegal to tackle by the inner rim of the shoulder pads AT ALL….whether from the rear, side or front. I just don’t think this is an issue. Not a performance one that is worth making ¾ of the teams in the league look ridiculous. Besides, there are dozens of ways we could (or maybe will in the future) address the jersey as garment/jersey as equipment discussion. We need a covering for the pads. It doesn’t HAVE to be a shirt in the traditional sense. Any of you got kids? Ever take apart a car seat? That’s a “material” covering to a piece of padding and plastic as well. And it’s skin tight when attached with various loops, hooks and clips. No, I’m not suggesting NFL jerseys use hook and loop fasteners. Don’t’ like my car seat idea? How about…ski wear? Or life jackets if you prefer? I mentioned a tactical vest earlier and I wasn’t kidding. The advances in materials technology and printing technology are just astonishing to me. Why not envision the 21st century football jersey as essentially a “skin” on the only really necessary bit…the shoulder pads. Then you aren’t worrying about the stripes/numerals/logos being cropped or tucked underneath the padding…because they will BE the padding. They’ll be part of it. Printed, glued or otherwise adhered such that they don’t move out of place because they can’t.

In the modern sports era, we’ve never seen marketing possibilities shrink quite like the modern football jersey. We’ve seen NBA shorts get longer, MLB getting longer or baggier. Athletes of all sports now wearing helmets or bigger equipment. The one time someone really tried to take away design real estate? The hemline area oforiginal RBK Edge? Players and fans revolted (err…whined) en masse. I want this to be different. Kiss the sleeves goodbye!! They probably never should have been there in the first place. Footballs roots are rugby-like in nature. The modern NFL athlete has much more in common with a basketball player in terms of the way their body moves while playing. If you were inventing football today, starting from scratch, you wouldn’t make sleeves either. So let’s get on with it shall we?

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[EDIT] Remember the Raiders still wear their numeral below the seam. Ooops.

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Very interesting conversation all of a sudden. An added thought as to why NFL jersey design is getting extra complications that, say, the helmet/pants/etc. are free from is this...

Only the jersey needs to be a functional, on-field piece of equipment, AND a fashionable shirt that can be sold in stores.

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Are you allowed to give out vectors and PNG's of the fonts you work with to concept makers? And if you were allowed to change one teams uniforms right now, what team would it be? I'd like Oregon to change sometime soon.....

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