Thursday, July 03, 2014

Evaluation of American Ultimate Disc League 2014 Jerseys

Eli critiques the team's jerseys in the AUDL, as part of a pro Ultimate jersey review. Teams are ranked, within each division, from best (at top) to worst (at bottom) jerseys.



Montreal Royal
A muted but classy palette of blue, copper, and white combines with a boldly simple jersey design: A diagonal slash runs from shoulder to hip, broken only by a modest-sized logo on the chest. A giant sponsor logo on the right pants leg of the shorts looks very out of place and disrupts an otherwise harmonious look.

On the back of the jersey below the player number sits the bird-icon, which, by itself is a really strong design, but loses a lot of its power when crowded into the shield logo.

The light jersey is simple as well: team name across the top of the chest and shield logo centered below that.

New York Empire
The Empire regular jerseys, both light and dark, are a very complicated design. A detailed skyline wraps around the bottom, and there is a monochromatic starburst radiating out from behind the skyline, which rises up and crashes into the team name logo largely emblazoned across the chest. There is so much going on on this jersey and I like all of the elements separately, it just needs a bit of editing.

It also seems inconsistent that they would go all out on the tops but not continue that design frenzy on the shorts.

Contrasting that is the 2014 light jersey which is so simple as to initially look like black type on a white shirt. There are several excellent references within this design - the type resembles the "New York" shirt John Lennon is wearing in the classic shot of him, and the subtle pinstripes are capped with black rings on the neck and sleeves. The shield logo is small but well-designed so it is easily recognizable up in the corner.

SIDE NOTE: [They also sell excellent pinnies with the word "Empire" designed to look like the title of the movie The Warriors. The pinnie is reversible and has the Lennon "New York" type on the light side. Bravo!]

DC Breeze
Both light and dark jerseys feature a field of tiny five-pointed stars monochromatically offset as the background. The stars theme continues with a vertical column of stripes next to two vertical stripes on the side of the thigh on the shorts.

More stripes - two red with a white in between them - start at the top of the shoulder and curve down and wrap around the side of the torso. This S-curve looks great in motion and from a straight-on front view. This motif is echoed on the opposite sleeve, running from shoulder to the edge of the fabric.

The logos are prominently displayed in the center/slightly off-center of the chest and at a size that allows them to be immediately seen and identified from near and far. This, combined with the DC flag motif of stars and stripes create a dynamic uniform design that looks good at rest but especially in motion. Putting the numbers on the front hip, in addition to the shorts and on the back, is an idiosyncratic touch that tells you these jerseys won't be tucked in.

Philadelphia Phoenix
These jerseys are on fire! Great use of sublimation printing to transition from dark to light and light to dark. The flames are rendered really nicely and look great on a moving player. The full bodied Phoenix illustration is placed so that the head and beak poke across the players chest and direct you to the typographic logo on the side. The type could stand to be just a bit bigger and lose the flames around it as there are already enough of those on these shirts. Another instance of a skyline, or at least a series of silhouetted rooftops, nicely borders the bottom of the jersey.

The offset numbers on the back look a little odd, but are big enough that it won’t be a problem reading them, but the names are definitely cramped underneath. Any "Saltalammachhias" on the roster are gonna need some help.

Toronto Rush
I'm not sure if the team is unable to or unwilling to break up their logo into its separate elements, but the jersey designs suffer as a result. I’ve reviewed the team logo elsewhere, but the lighting bolt "TR" with the maple leaf and the word "RUSH" all together just become a big blob on the center of these uniforms.

The alternate jersey has red sleeves and a giant "T" that looks like a Google maps render (and not in a good way). The post of the T is off-center to the left, and maybe this was supposed to balance out the logo on the upper right, but it just looks strange. The design feels much unfinished.

Rochester Dragons
Light and dark have the same essential jersey design, just inverted. My immediate thought was to wonder, Why blue? A color I don't usually associate with dragons, and not with the city of Rochester either. The flame circling the bottom looks like the flame on a gas range, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but layering the cramped, blocky type of their logo on top of this obscures both elements and reduces the meaning and impact of each of them. Placing the type all the way at the bottom, and wrapping around the side, seems like an over-thinking of the design -- not at all a good thing.

The dragon logo is huge but placed off-center and, thus, cut off. Further, the head of the dragon goes straight into the armpit, which seems like a bad place for it.



Detroit Mechanix
Gone are the overly complicated jerseys from last season. This year the dark and light jerseys have the word “DETROIT” in a condensed italic san-serif font, with the gear logo above and to the right, flowing from the crossbar of the T. The light jerseys have dark horizontal stripes running around the torso and sleeves, which is a nice accent. These stripes frame gray accent stripes on the light jerseys, and on the back the player number is surrounded by a thin circle that reminds me of early race cars. There is also a crossed-tools logo that is small and above the player name, which is a great detail.

The dark jerseys are split in half vertically - black and gray, and the sleeves also alternate color. The jersey sheen looks sharp indoors, though a bit off-color when outdoors.

Madison Radicals
A nice understated use of full sublimation for Madison. The dark jersey fades from dark blue at the top to the green brown in their logo at the bottom. The word "Radicals" is knocked out in white at the bottom and wraps around, which makes it hard to see and read. The fist logo is large and centered but because of the color choice it still is a little challenging to view on the field; it could use a white stroke around the outside to really separate it. Their lightning bolt from the logo runs the length of the jersey from top to bottom and looks great both at rest and in motion. The accent-colored opposite sleeve is also a smart design choice. The bolt is echoed again on the back under the player number.

Indianapolis AlleyCats
The dark jerseys are simple solid-color Nike shirts with a white collar. The full logo with type is centered and the player number is located beneath the word "Cats." The light jerseys are this in reverse, without the collar accent. Nothing to purr about here. Another case where breaking up the elements of the team's logo would do a lot to help the uniform design.

Cincinnati Revolution
The word "Revolution" is barely legible even at close range on these jerseys. The font is already complex but they have hit it with two strokes and filled it with a fake metal gradient which only make it look worse.

On the positive side, the Rev's shorts are pretty sweet and remind me a bit of the Jordan-era Bulls shorts with the diamond shape on the side.

Light version is very similar, but a simplified version. Everything still works.

Minnesota Wind Chill

Minnesota got a full redesign during the off-season, and the three-stripes aspect of their new branding is just a bit too Adidas for my liking. The light jerseys use Vikings-esque purple along with gray on the white shirt. The word "Minnesota" runs along the top, with three horizontal stripes across the chest broken in the middle for a tiny "M" logo. Underneath those elements are the words, "Wind Chill Ultimate," which looks a bit like corporate letterhead; not a dynamic sports jersey.

The dark jerseys have the "M" logo on the left breast with "Wind Chill Ultimate" in teeny tiny letters below that. Those words do not need to be there. On the opposite side, riding into the armpit are three vertical stripes that run up over the shoulder and have the player number placed on top -- this makes the number a bit hard to read. Even more stripes can be found on the sleeves and over the right butt cheek.

Chicago Wildfire
These jumbled jerseys feature a giant diagonal type of the word "WILDFIRE" with the illegible word "CHICAGO" much smaller dangling around belly button level at the same angle. The orange flame element of their logo is broken up by the unbearably huge type and placed so that the only hint at what it is supposed to be is the orange color.

The sleeve with Chicago flag representation is a subtle element that deserves applause for its simplicity and fit. Unfortunately, it gets lost in the wild front design.


San Francisco Flamethrowers
Even more flames! And no surprise, they’re wrapping around the bottom of the jersey. On the dark jersey the flames fade into a black field, with an orange accent running vertical under the right arm all the way from the bottom to the shoulder and slimming to a point up to the collar, which is also orange. The team logo is on the left breast and is nicely balanced as well as having a very visible and legible "SF" in the middle of it.

The light jerseys follow essentially the same layout, only the flames are on a white field and the accent is a black vertical stripe running up to the sleeve and collar.

San Jose Spiders
Similar to the Montreal dark jerseys, San Jose's have a classic feel to them: a black field with a vertical yellow stripe on the left side of the body running from top to bottom. The team logo is half on and half off this stripe on the left breast, breaking it up but reinforcing the strength of the design. The player number is on the opposite breast, aligned with the logo. Simple and solid.

The light jerseys follow the same layout: a white field with a black vertical stripe and yellow numbers.

Vancouver Riptide
The logo and player number are placed on a horizontal plaid swatch that runs across the chest and around the back underneath the large number there. The number and logo are almost aligned but for some reason the team logo is breaking the bottom plane of the swatch and not the top, which throws the whole design out of whack. The sleeves are blue with lighter blue wave elements, which is a great detail. The wave motif continues at the bottom of the jersey with light blue waves that wrap around one side of the player’s torso. On the other side there is a vertical stripe of color that fades from black to the blue of the sleeve up in the armpit.

The dark jerseys have the word "RIPTIDE" across the chest underneath the number and logo, which are in essentially the same spots as on the light jersey. The plaid swatch runs vertically on the left side of the player’s body, underneath the team logo. The wave motifs are in the same places and look just as good here as the light version.

Both jerseys have an accent color on the collar which gives a little extra pop to these already well-designed jerseys.

Salt Lake Lion
The light and darks have essentially the same design: the mane of the lion from their logo has been blown up and cropped so that it is more of a tie-dye swirl covering the entire torso of the player. This is actually quite striking from a distance and looks great on a player in motion. The (weak) team logo is in place of the eye of the lion on the left chest. (This is another instance where a little home/away variety would help the design: make the home jersey just say "LIONS" and the away just say "SALT LAKE" and you've simplified the design, added legibility, AND created some variety.)

The dark jersey is golden mane on blue ground, but there is a problem on the light jersey. They have printed yellow/gold on a white ground and, as a result, the weak yellow hue pretty much disappears.

Seattle Raptors
There are some major problems with the scale and placement of the graphics on these jerseys. The word "Seattle" is small and centered underneath the collar over the word "Raptors" which is large and not centered, so it falls into the armpit. The full bird image shows a little more contrast between the horizontal gray feathers, yet ends up looking like a rectangular smudge. I'm not an ornithologist, but there is something awkward about how the bird's wings are in a flight position but the head and legs are in prey-catching position. I highly recommend a redraw on the bird and a different font choice.

There are some nice design accents on the jersey itself: three-toned sleeves, vertical swatches of color on the sides, and three diagonal slashes on the back, which are, unfortunately, the same color as the player number and, thus, visually confusing, even with a black stroke outlining the number itself.


Purchase AUDL replica jerseys at AUDL's Online Store.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Seattle Raptors jersey looks terrible. It looks like it was designed in under 5 minutes. For the sake of your team, change it ASAP.