You may have noticed something a little different if you watched Midnight Madness at an Under Armour school this past Friday. That’s right, new uniforms. With over 30 NCAA and high school teams sporting new uniforms (including footwear) this season, and each one being designed specifically for the school, I decided to seek out the masterminds behind the new threads. In an exclusive interview with Under Armour’s Adam Clement (Senior Apparel Designer) and Derek Speicher (Product Line Manager), go behind the scenes and check out the new uniforms for the University of Maryland and Boston College.
Dime: So let’s jump right into it, which is your favorite one?
Adam Clement: (laughs) Well, I can answer honestly and politically. Truthfully, the jerseys that we can build specific team stories and layer on different levels of visual cues I like the most. And we were able to do a lot of that with Maryland and Boston College. There are a bunch of unique stories we’re telling across campus. For Maryland with the terrapin print and the back neck details, and the stained glass story with BC, we’re able to layer in some different visual cues.
Derek Speicher: Ditto. Like he said, we had two distinct print stories for the most part across several sports. We tried to drive an aesthetic and tie it to the school. It’s a cool story. I like the aesthetics of all the designs, as we picked them all out. Specifically for Maryland and Boston college, it’s pretty cool in the numbers and names.
Dime: You said that this uniform has been in the works for two years. Who wear-tested them?
DS: With Maryland as our flagship school, we always get them involved. We’ll even take it down to the second level with the high schools, and once we get their feedback, we’ll move it to the collegiate level. It’s good to have that validation process. Then we’ll tweak the fit for the collegiate properties to make sure it’s okay from them.
Dime: Speaking of Maryland, you guys signed Greivis Vasquez over the summer. How integral has he been in the process?
DS: Greivis has been great. He brings so much energy to whatever he does whether it’s the product on-court or off-court. Up until the point where he left Maryland, he was the first one we’d talk to. He was great at giving good feedback, whether it was good or bad. Some guys will just say it’s great. He’s a great promoter of the brand.
Dime: How are these uniforms different than in past years?
AC: There are pillars that our garments have to live by at Under Armour. For on-field, we make sure that all our fabrics have stretch, as well as moisture wicking and a soft handle. You should be able to identify it in the dark. It’s incorporated in everything we do. For these jerseys, we used a plated fabric on the front and mesh on the back. It’s 33 percent lighter than our last version.
DS: The fit’s been brought in a little bit, and less fabric reduces the overall weight. We used a lighter weight fabric as well, but it still has the same durability for on-court.
Dime: How did you know where to begin in order to get lighter?
AC: We the set a bar with our first uniform and wanted to be lighter.
DS: The fabric that we’re using is called a plated fabric – it’s three fabrics woven together. Basically, from a moisture wicking standpoint, it’s the best on-court story we’ve ever told. It incorporates a polyester, Lycra and nylon. This allows for four-way, 360 degree stretch.
Dime: So what’s next?
DS: We’re working on rooms to get even lighter and room to innovate on the decoration. At this time next year, there’s going to be something that comes out that’s revolutionary from Under Armour. It’ll be the lightest ever for us. There’s still room to play.
AC: There was a perception where weight was value, and that has changed. No you do whatever you can for every little advantage you can get.
Dime: How often will teams get new uniforms? How many do they get?
AC: Maryland has had the same uniform for the past two years. This year they’re getting new ones. As for colorways, they have a home, away, alternate and some have two alternates – the more colors the better. Each school will release those special colors. For example, Maryland wore gold a lot at home. They try to keep those things under wraps though.
Dime: How much freedom do you eventually have in uniform design?
AC: It’s a collaborative effort on our end. We have to follow rules and regulations with NCAA uniforms, and there are places where we can and can’t place design. We like to make sure each of our schools has a unique look. For certain schools they have an official school font, i.e. Maryland. For BC, they use their school font and same colors for football, basketball and hockey. For Temple, that is our font. We looked at their logo and the reason behind it. We’ll look at older images for inspiration.
Dime: Tell me about the prints.
DS: For Maryland, the print is drawn from the shell of a diamondback terrapin. For BC, it’s a stained glass print. As a Jesuit school, we wanted to express that without shouting that, and you can see the shapes are revealed through line work. It’s an abstract version. The lines go back and forth indicative of a stained glass window.
Dime: Anything else from the rest of the jersey?
AC: Each school has a signature neck line that ties them together, with the school mantra printed on the inside neck of the jersey. It’s a tied-off v-neck with a team tab at the front and a three color story. For shooters, the shoulder notch allows more shooter mobility and increased range of motion.
DS: As the uniforms get more fitted, we haven’t seen an enormous amount of stretch in the jersey. You still need to have mobility.
AC: There are also side vents at the base of the uniform for the ease of mobility, and an elastic waistband with clear silicon to keep the jersey tucked in throughout competition.
What do you think?
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