Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
–John F. Kennedy
When word came out shortly before the reveal that Alexander Julian, famed designer of the original Hornets uniforms, had offered, nay BEGGED, to design the new look only to be rebuffed, one pesky thought wouldn’t leave me alone…”Are they going to mess this up?” I didn’t feel very good waiting for anything solely in the hands of the company responsible for this.
As a few have already pointed out, it’s odd that Nike was involved at all in the making of the jerseys because the NBA has an apparel deal with Adidas. But that’s what happens when Michael Jordan is your owner. MJ gets what MJ wants.
One thing is clear, a lot of thought went into this design. There are a lot of fine details and none seem to have been thrown in at the last minute, instead, it all weaves together into a very tight design. Let’s delve into some of the specifics.
Note: I’ll start with home and away analysis and end with a few thoughts on the teal alternate.
At first I typed “The Tops” but then I thought, “Who in the world calls a basketball jersey a top?” Anyhow, the Hornets showed us a white home set and purple away set. I’m a huge fan of the white and the dark purple is royal and easy on the eyes.
I’ve heard a few complaints about “Hornets” being placed on the front as opposed to “Charlotte.” We worked hard to get the name back, let’s put it out there, let’s celebrate. When we fist got the franchise in 1988, it was about how Charlotte got a franchise and Charlotte’s legitimacy. But now Charlotte is a booming southern metropolis and everything is about the return of the HORNETS.
I’m a big fan of the special font used for “Hornets” especially the stinger touches on the “H” and “S” but why is that “n” lowercase…why?…no seriously Hornets Sports and Entertainment. I’m going to need a 3 page double spaced, 5 paragraph essay on why that damn “n” is lowercase.
The numbers on front and back are big, bold and geometric. All things that classic and that I enjoy. Rounded numbers are the worst. Another really nice detail can be found inside the numbers. There is a cross-hatching that reminds me of a honeycomb. SYMBOLISM. One thing I’m not fond of you can see on the back of the Jefferson jersey below. The two looks like a “z”, especially when placed next to the five. Seems odd and unbalanced for no other sake than to not be a mirrored five.
To the dismay of many, there were no pinstripes present on these jerseys. Instead we have an odd but neat dot pattern on the front, back and side that is reminiscent of pinstripes. There are so many dots I wonder if they serve some practical purpose apart from design. Maybe they are more airy…cooler…or something.
Finally the crossover v-neck is one thing the design team did decide to bring over from the original uniforms. It is a small touch, yes. But it is a small touch that many hardcore fans can bug their friends with. “HEY DID YOU KNOW THE NECKLINE WAS LIFTED FROM THE ORIGINAL UNIFORMS?!”
The shorts are a big hit for me. The front-facing Hornet logo on the embossed trapezoid, along with the bold elastic waistline makes it look like a superhero belt. For a uniform set with a lot of contrasting teal on purple/purple on white, it’s nice to have the “Hornets” text on the bottom right side of the shorts be a subtle tone-on-tone. Left side striping leads the eyes down to another alternate logo, the CH Crown.
I like how they weaved in some of the other alternate logos as opposed to re-using imagery we’ve already seen. The striping on the shorts integrates nicely with the striping on the jersey to make the whole arrangement feel whole.
Teal! Bright teal! Probably my least favorite. The purple on teal alternate is a little too much color for me. I wish they would have worked some more white in, possibly in the numbers. Though it does have Charlotte instead of Hornets on the jersey to appease those who wanted the city name featured.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m down with this look. It manages to make a statement without trying to hard. The brighter teal and darker purple to a lot to service that cause but the design doesn’t get in its own way. There are no red herrings, no awful details that take the eye away from the overall look. It is simple and clean, a uniform for the modern design world that gravitates away from unnecessary distractions.
Change is always hard. Some have a deep connection with the pinstripes and the darker teal and lighter purple that defined the early 90’s Charlotte Hornets. But we needed a modern look, an identity all our own. There are so many different elaborate directions they could have veered of into with this design and the fact that they responsibly and thoughtfully obeyed the great principle of K.I.S.S is comforting for a franchise that has undergone so much wild and often unthoughtful change. Let’s hope this look sticks around for a while and ten years from now some kids can look back and feel nostalgic about it, like some of us feel about our look of old
For those that are heart broken over pinstripes and logo changes don’t fret; the Hornets say they plan to roll out the classic look at some point but not next year, which I think is very smart. Let this new look sink in, breathe and begin to garner the adoration of Hornets fans new and old. Now that the Hornets are back in Charlotte we have plenty of time in the future to look back to the past.
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