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Chitwood & Hobbs

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uniforms

Win Win Win

The Manimal, pickaxes, sweet new Nuggets unis — win win win.

(Source: nba)

Throwing Back

When Nike unveiled the new NFL uniforms two weeks ago they stayed mostly the same. The Seattle Seahawks made some drastic changes but they were an outlier. That is with one caveat. None of the alternate uniform designs were on display, we only saw the non-white jersey and coordinated pants (except for the Cowboys). Yesterday we got our first look at one of the new alternates. It’s hard to imagine being indecided here. You’re either going to love it or hate it.

To recognize the Pittsburgh’s 80th season they unveiled this new bumble bee outfit. The look is modeled after the 1934 prison yard look. Striking and loud.

“We wanted to use a jersey that we wore early in our history as we celebrate our 80th season. We have never used those jerseys since the 1934 season and I think our fans will be excited to see our players wear them in action this year.”
— Art Rooney II, Steelers’ President

I’m shocked. The Pittsburgh Steelers? The most storied franchise in the league. The no nonsense blue-collar Steelers are going with these alternate designs? A fantastically rich 80-year history and these are the throwbacks. Again, I gotta go back to being shocked.

To be fair, I have seen still images on mannequin and one player. Maybe they’ll look great on TV. All those players and all those stripes might be majestic, like a herd of zebras. It’s just hard to picture. I imagine it will look like they are all in khaki dress pants. What I really can’t get over is the helmet that Issac Redman posed with. All those details on the uniform and they are going with the current helmet? That can’t be accurate, they have to be going with an all black version.

It’s not all bad. The Steelers are going out on a limb and taking a chance, I respect that. And I really enjoy the socks.

@chitwoodhobbs

Old Glory

Last month, Nike unveiled the new United States Men’s National Team away kit.  It is glorious. The white sleeves combined with the red, white and blue crossover collar are designed to resemble varsity jacket. The familiar tonal slash on the body is a nod to the kit design worn by the 1950 USMNT team who defeated England in the World Championship finals. My favorite detail is the American flag tucked away on the inside neck. USA!

@chitwoodhobbs

The Cowboys have some classic uniforms. They’re simple and match their simple color palette. No Frills, no novelties, and nothing extra. In fact the organization has only had three different helmets throughout the course of their existence. From 1960 until 1963 they wore white helmets with a blue star. From 1964-1966 they had silver helmets with a blue star and a single white outline. And from 1967 until now they’ve had similar helmet but with a double bordered star.

However, there is one outlier year. In 1976 made an alteration to the helmet design in celebration of America’s Bicentennial. They changed one of the blue stripes to red so that it would create a red, white and blue effect. Dallas definitely wore these for some of the season but from what I’m able to gather they didn’t wear them for all games. Seems fitting that the self-proclaimed “America’s Team” would have such a patriotic helmet design. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it until now.

Ironically, this year’s Civil Rights game took place between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. I say ironically because for years the Braves have been criticized for a logo and name that Native American groups have regarded as insulting. All politics aside it was a close and entertaining game. Dan Ugla pulled himself out of a slump by hitting an 8th inning homer that sent Doc Halladay to his second consecutive complete game loss.

All that’s fun but what I enjoyed most should come at no surprise — the uniforms. Both teams wore throwback uniforms from 1974 to celebrate Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun. The Phillies wore powdered blue uniforms and they looked pretty accurate to my novice eye.

However, it was the Atlanta’s uniforms that stole the show. I thought the Braves’ pullover jerseys were fantastic. Really, I’m not sure what I can find wrong with them. They look extremely close to what I consider some of Hank Aaron’s most iconic photos. And I absolutely love the feather logo on the sleeves, my favorite logo in the history of the Braves organization. Don’t sleep on the fine multi-color piping on the pants, they nailed it. Also, the lower case “a” hats look great but like Paul Lukas pointed out with the Phillies’ caps, the logo on the caps are probably too large. Yet that same logo seems perfect on the batting helmets which happen look especially pleasing. There is something about batting helmets with white fronts, they feel so familiar.

I have nothing against the current Braves’ uniform set, they are one of the best in the league, but if I had my way Atlanta would wear these all the time.

A Capital Change

There are many reasons why a sports franchise may make a drastic uniform change. One reason might be to shake up a team mired in a losing culture. This is the tactic the New England Patriots took in 1993 when they went from Pat Patriot to the Flying Elvis. I’d say that worked out for the Patriot’s organization. With only five wins on the road during the 2010-2011 season, you would have a strong case for this being the reason why the Washington Wizards updated their uniforms. However, I maintain this change is because everyone has hated the teal uniforms since they were introduced in 1997.

Yesterday the Wizards unveiled next season’s redesigned uniforms. I certainly don’t have the first words on the subject — check out Trey Kirby’s post on TBJ, he wrote a lot of the things I was thinking of writing — but I may have some thoughts that have yet to be discussed elsewhere.

The Good

First and foremost — the move to red, white and blue is long overdue. How does a team playing in our nation’s capital not have this patriotic color scheme? This change unifies all of Washington’s major league team’s except for the Redskins, who still wear burgundy and gold. It’s a really neat idea and something only Pittsburgh does (Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates). No other city shares the same color scheme with all professional sports franchises.

I love the horizontal stripes. I know it’s been said in many other places but they are reminiscent of earlier Elvin Hayes era uniforms. The horizontal stripes have this endearing ABA feel to them, two retro thumbs way up. There is one thing I don’t like about the stripes and it’s super picky. On the back of jersey, why make the stripe notch out around the ball logo? They would look so much cleaner if the stripe went straight across. I told you it was picky.

A few other miscellaneous things I like:

• All lowercase lettering. If you would’ve told me beforehand that all of the lettering would be lowercase I’d expect not to like it. But it works. Again, it’s straight up Elvin Hayes style.

• The new dc hand unity logo is tremendous. Borrowing the outstretched hand from the Bullets is perfect. Even though I like the '87 and later hands better than the earlier version with individual fingers the uniform designer made the right call. You need two hands for the other version to work and “dc” only affords for one.

• The home whites are fantastic. I definitely prefer them to the road reds which might look better as road blues.

The Bad

The font choice for the wordmarks are terrible. The serif-like font with the sharp angles — not a fan. Not at all. The numbers use the same serif typeface and are equally as bad. Which brings me to my next gripe, the Washington Monument “d”. In theory I love this idea. But the execution is lacking. It’s like they are only halfway committed to the monument being part of a letter. It’s pretty clear that the monument is supposed to be in the "wizards" wordmark but what about the "washington" one? Does the “h” have it or not?

The alternate logo — monument ball. By itself, I love it. Love it! But it doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the jersey design. The ball is so modern looking and the rest of the jersey is not. It just doesn’t seem to fit. I want to like, really I do. It is so similar to what the Capitals are doing with their alternate logo. I’m quite fond of the idea of two teams that share the same building also share such similar logo cues. I’ll get over it.

One more small thing, the stars on the shorts. They are ok, but I’d rather have seen multiple stars like when Unseld wore the uniform. Smaller stripes down the side and more stars.

The Ugly

The updated wizard logo is horrendous. It’s so bad. Luckily, the team has done everything possibly to deemphasize this logo. Really, the only thing left to do is to get rid of it. And lucky for us, SB Nation’s Michael Katz suggests this logo and the Wizards name in general might not be long for this world.

So there you have it. My unnecessarily over the top analysis of the new Washington Wizard’s uniforms. I picked them apart but they definitely get the C&H stamp of approval. I can’t wait to read what the Godfather of uniform design has to say about it over at Uni Watch.

(Source: nba.com)

All Black Everything

When I heard black ASU received redesigned black uniforms I was excited to see them. Even though it seems weird for the Sun Devils to have black as the primary color I still thought they could look nice. I’ve since changed my mind. The promo photos are deceiving, take a look at the same uniform without the smoke and mirrors. There’s so much crap on the shoulders, terrible. Maybe the maroon uniforms won’t look as bad.

On the other hand the new helmets look fantastic. They’ve moved Sparky to the back in favor of a new pitchfork logo. And the black helmets are a flat black — I’m a big fan of flat black. The gold helmets look nice too.

You can read what Paul “The Godfather” Lukas thinks about the uniform changes at Uni Watch. Smartly, he’s reserving some of his opinions until after he sees them on the field. Don’t skip his links at the end of the article, one of which is the new ASU style guide. I’m such a nerd that I happily read through all of it.

Pretty much everything Paul Lukas writes for Uni Watch is a can’t miss but I found his latest article, “The White Sox fan-fueled unis”, particularly interesting. In it Lukas covers the 1981 fan voted uniform makeover of the Chicago White Sox. It’s the kind of article that I wish I had the time and talent to write.

And that is how a 25-year-old who had no particular interest in the White Sox, and who’d never designed a uniform before, ended up creating one of the most iconic uniforms of the past generation. His name is Richard Launius, and this is his story. It’s also the story of a team’s playful, almost quaint approach to its visual design program — an approach that would never fly in today’s more corporate-style sports world.

It’s an entertaining and quick read. The idea that Chicago White Sox once wore jersey’s with open collars is unbelievable. And that they sometimes wore them with shorts pushes it over the top. If there weren’t photos you would have a tough time convincing me it was true.

I just got latest “Style Issue” of ESPN the magazine and the cover had the following headline — “Tommy Hilfiger Revamps Four Classic Unis”. Interesting. That sounds right up my alley. I flipped through and the article initially looked promising. Neat sketch at the top and it starts off with a Mark Twain quote. Win win.

And then I looked at the concepts.

I have a hard time finding any redeeming qualities about these uniform designs. It should be know that my opinion comes from someone who has never owned an article of Tommy Hilfiger clothing. Maybe I’m jaded but I think the Yankees uniforms are terrible. I appreciate trying something new but collars? On a baseball jersey? The problem might be that he used the Yankees as an example. How do you improve on that uniform? I understand that the article was a revamp on classic unis but you’re going to start with the classic uni?

I was in no way a fan of the Cowboys revamp either. All those little stars are a tad too busy. It looks like a failed Pro Bowl experiment. And here’s explanation of the helmet design:

We also liked the idea of making each player a star and enlarging it to include his number so everyone would be easily identifiable on camera, even when they’re piled up on the field searching for a fumbled ball!

That comment makes me wonder if Tommy Hilfiger has ever seen a football game. Boom, roasted.

The one design that I was ok with was the concept for the Lakers uniform. Lose the crest and the unbalanced stripes on the shorts and I think they look pretty good. The horizontal stripes on the chest are neat touch. They feel vintage, like it’s from a different decade. I think they remind me of the early 80’s Cavaliers road unis or the old Bullet’s jersey.

Meet Nike’s new national team away kit for the French Football Federation. It’s gorgeous. This is much more than just a subtle blue and white jersey. The entire design is based off of the iconic French ‘marinière’ stripes. It’s classic, timeless and oh so French. The only way it could get more authentic is if Jacques Cousteau were the model.

The new away jersey takes strong visual cues from the ‘marinière’, a piece of French history since the last century, and now a timeless French style icon. The ‘marinière’ first appeared as the uniform of sailors in the French navy in the 19th century and was first seen in civilian wardrobes in the early 20th century. Soon, it would become a symbol of French culture, adopted by free-spirited individuals in France and beyond.

Football Shirt Culture.com has a lot more on the design and some great images. The French Football Federation already had one of the better logos and I’m pleased to see Nike build on it. There will be some people who don’t agree and aren’t into the design. Everyone has different tastes but I’m extremely impressed with the way Nike was able to wrap a countries culture into a uniform. Check out Nike’s promo video (in French). Two thumbs way up!

There are a few NFL teams that I wish would just adopt their far superior throwback uniforms. For example, I still can’t get used to Denver’s cyber looking horse. It’s even more appalling when you see the alternate logo that includes the horse’s body. Yuck. The uniforms worn be the Orange Crush weren’t bad were they?

What about the Tennessee Titans? I know they have changed their name but the old uniforms are such a huge improvement over the current flaming thumbtacks. The old helmets alone should settle any arguments. Another example is the Philadelphia Eagle’s throwback uniforms. I like that kelly green much more than the current midnight green. Though I will say that I don’t necessarily dislike the newer primary logo.

The harshest offender is most definitely the Buffalo Bills. Explain to me how you can wear this combo every week when you came from this uniform. Fortunately, there is good news. Last week the Bills announced that there will be a uniform change for 2011. Paul Lukas broke down the details further on Uniwatch.

These new Bills uniforms are clearly modeled after the later Simpson-era design, including the white helmet, but they’ve been updated to include a tiny amount of navy blue trim.

For the most part this is great news. Going back to white helmets will be much more appealing than the current red ones. Though it sounds like they are sticking with the charging buffalo logo. It’s a shame they don’t go back to that red silhouette. The other thing I am hung up on is that they will most likely stick with the navy blue color. Why? Royal blue is clearly the way to go.

Link bomb of a post? Yes, but you would have been sorry if I tried to explain these designs instead of linking to images.

Graphic design student Jimmy Nutini takes NFL teams and re-imagines what their jerseys would look like as sponsor-friendly soccer shirts.

A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report