Posts for Writer: Dan Fuller Category

Now the MLB is Threatening Ugly Jerseys to Match the Ugly Fourth of July Hats

Dan Fuller - June 11, 2015

My God! It's full of stars! (from MLBShop.com)

My God! It’s full of stars!
(from MLBShop.com)

Why “threatening” you ask? Because an almost identical July Fourth design showed up last year around this time, June 11, 2014, to be exact.. The difference? Last year’s was a “replica” jersey (in quotes because the official dilineation is “replica” for retail only, “authentic” for “on-field and retail), and this year’s is categorized in the on-field category. They have the correct on-field style tagging (bottom-right), and they’ve devoted copy explicitly saying these will be worn on-field. And speaking of explicit, look at these things. Yikes. It looks like a 6 year old’s Trapper Keeper. All it’s missing is the Lisa Frank signature.

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The 2015 Phillies Fourth of July Hat is Here, and It’s Something

Dan Fuller - June 11, 2015

from lids.com

from lids.com

After years of Stars and Stripes hats, then camouflage hats, then 2013 introducing separate hats for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, we arrive at something a little different for once. It seemed like MLB was running out of spots on their baseball hat template to swap in red, white, blue, or camouflage panels, so the Fourth of July brings an all-new design with what looks to be the first appearance of dye sublimated printing (think the pattern on the Seahawks numbers) on MLB hats.

Interestingly, the design for the Fourth of July hats leaked a month ago on uni-watch.com, but only the Dodgers version. A few other teams had trickled out in the mean time, but the Phillies’ design finally showed up this week. The uni-watch.com write-up mentions batting practice hats for the Fourth of July as well, but the Phillies’ is nowhere to be found as of today.

At this point (and for the last few years), spending any time saying that they’re ugly is a waste of time (note: this has never stopped me from spending that time), but these are uniquely ugly. Good or bad, say what you want about the previous designs (see below), but these are the first that don’t look like on-field MLB hats.  That dye sub (industry lingo!) pattern moves it from “ugly but has a place on-field” to “random Phillies hat on Amazon that your six year old nephew would love.” (My six year old nephew likes the Star Wars Clone Wars TV show more than the original trilogy. He has awful taste. And he’d love that hat.) And even though camouflage on the hats was a big change in 2012, the concept of camouflage on a baseball uniform wasn’t a new one; the Padres had been wearing camouflage with varying frequency since 1996(!), so it was far from an all-new term in the MLB uniform design language. (that Padres picture is from Delaware County’s own William Henderson’s Game Worn Guide to MLB Jerseys which just had the release of its 7th edition. If you’re at all interested in this stuff, it’s a must-have.) Continue Reading

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The Phillies 2015 Memorial Day Hats and Jerseys are Here

Dan Fuller - May 8, 2015

images from MLBShop.com and Lids.com

images from MLBShop.com and Lids.com

Each year, I have less and less to say about these. They’re here to stay, and each year, it seems like “What’s left for the camouflage treatment?” This year, it’s the brim (last year was the crown of the hat). Next year: the button (“squatchee”) on top? And because this is the internet, I’m not done complaining. In previous years, a neat detail of these hats was stitching the special flag or camouflage pattern in the batterman logo. They’re just using the normal team colors this year. Boring.

batter_comparison_rev1

Another interesting detail is on the jerseys; last year, the “camo’d” jersey was the pinstriped home version. 2013 and this year are the grey aways. Oddly, the 2013 used white stroke around the “Phillies” wordmark, like the normal away jerseys. The 2015 uses red stroke. I’d hate to think that this is solely to make them different than the 2013s, and this is a marketing exercise. I’d certainly hate to think that. And, it’s a visual mess because it doesn’t offset the camouflage from the grey the way the white does.

it doesn't get any better with time

they don’t get any better with time

With all these variations of hats, we now have a continuum of “bad.”  2008, 2009, 2011 get passes as they basically look like regular hats drenched in sweet, sweet, freedom (red’s already a team color, navy is close enough to blue, also a team color). 2010: yuck. Among the camouflage options, 2013 Memorial Day has ended up looking the best, as it’s fully committed to the look. The 2015 gets the slight nod (hats, get it? ugh) over the 2014 due to the marginally subtler application of the camouflage concept. 2012 is so subtle that it just looks like  a dirty “P.” Wrapping up the flag designs, 2013 gets points for originality, and 2014 is just a mess.

Even these are a sad reminder of good years past and ever distant. (click to enlarge)

h/t: uni-watch

h/t: @fittedelphia for reminding me about the pre-2008 design last year.

Phillies Place 2nd in Pre-Season (uniform) Power Rankings

Dan Fuller - February 27, 2015

all Phillies uniforms

The second best… uniforms in 2015!

Not all pundits are down on the Phillies this season.  First, FOX Sports said they just might have a chance (remember that when they win 10 of 11 in mid-August… before finishing September 4-a whole lot). Now, ESPN’s and uni-watch.com‘s Paul Lukas unveiled his 2015 MLB uniform power rankings, putting the Phillies in the rarefied air of second place, right behind the St. Louis Cardinals who were last year’s top-ranked team…er, uniform. Moving up from last year’s number four finish wasn’t easy. It required the A’s to replace the solid yellow “A’s” on their road hat with a white “A’s” with yellow stroke and plummet five (five!) spots and the Cubs to drop from their #2 spot by committing the ever rare “subtraction by addition” error with a questionably necessary new grey jersey (somewhat of a trend, with the Dodgers also doing that) but pairing it with unquestionably unnecessary alternate pants. As you can tell, uniform ranking is a science, people. Elsewhere in the list, there are no real surprises, though you’ll find some teams with “classic” designs such as the White Sox, Twins, and Astros are placed lower than you might expect if you consider “classic” to be a synonym for “good.”

As for the Phillies #2 placement, I get it, but I’m not sure I agree. Top ten, definitely. Top three, maybe not. They have a similar issue as to what the White Sox face. They chose to go for a classic design in the early 90s and (eventually) had success with it. Sure, it’s a 21st century sports business accomplishment that the Phillies still don’t have a red alternate for the regular season (batting practice jerseys worn in spring training don’t count), and the equally classic cream/no pin stripe day game uniform was a shot in the arm their uniforms needed in 2008, but then we had a World (F’ing) Championship to talk about instead of uniforms. Do they need to be changed or updated? Well, no, not for for the sake of change. They don’t have that “90s smell” that the Eagles put on every week, but is what seems like timelessness a reason to stay the course? No one is saying a full re-design is necessary. How about dropping the pinstripes from the home whites (great up close, useless from any type of distance)? What about an alternate jersey with the current “P” logo on the chest instead of “Phillies?” Hmm… that sounds familiar. What about a throwback to the 70s and 80s maroon/”burgundy” design but with regular appearances on the schedule?  What about a regularly-scheduled forgotten throwback? There’s lots of history to draw from, but their current uniform stakes a claim for huge chunks of time: 1950-1969 and 1992-2015+. Effectively, they’ve worn this same uniform for more than 40 years of their history! That sounds Yankee-esque. We’re not the Yankees, darn it. And that’s reason enough for a change. Argue below.

And the Participation Trophy for Color Matching Goes to Nike: Midnight Green Returns

Dan Fuller - November 10, 2014

2013 on the left, 2014 on the right, Photo credit: USA Today

2013 on the left, 2014 on the right, Photo credit: USA Today

Here we are at week 10 of the NFL season, and we finally see the Eagles in their proper Midnight Green jerseys. At length, I explained that color matching was hard, especially when multiple fabrics are in play, and the final result is… perhaps by choice, not exactly a match to the previous jerseys. The metallic fleck is gone, so there is an even more noticeable change between the plastic, metallic painted helmet and the jersey.

And, even if it doesn’t match, it’s an improvement! I’ve long been on the record that metallic midnight green looks generically “darkish” in all but the brightest 1PM games. Matte fabric gives much more diffuse reflected light which generally makes the fabrics more vibrant, especially for dark colors, oddly enough. (the 49ers now matte “gold” pants, on the other hand, look like dirty khakis.) Now, if they can move those helmets into matte colors, too…

For the actual color itself, the variation in lighting and video settings makes an accurate analysis difficult, see below, but in motion, it seems sufficiently “Midnight Green-“ish to me, despite the obvious mismatch to their previous jerseys.

Also taken tonight.

Also taken tonight. See just how much the angle and lighting (not to mention video settings) can affect the appearance of color.

Some notes for completeness’ sake:

1. The Eagles had  a BLACKOUT!!!, a bye, and two road games in the last four weeks, so, in fairness, Nike was late (no pre-season, no beginning of the season, missed the week 6 commitment), but it’s not clear if week 10 availability is fully Nike-related or just a reality of the team’s schedule.

2. My previous guess that the metallic aspect of their jerseys was what tripped up Nike was incorrect. Nike did what Nike does and moved the Eagles to a completely matte version of midnight green.

3. The custom aspect of the midnight green color was the source of the difficulty. As Kyle says, “midnight green isn’t a color”… unless the Eagles gave up on metallic fabrics after Nike proved incapable after some amount of trial and error. I’m admittedly  grasping at straws here, but the real story will likely never come out.

4. The Eagles are currently pounding the Panthers 31-7 before the first half is even over. Yes, that is more important…

5. To be clear, I don’t consider the difficulty in color matching to be an excuse for Nike to not have jerseys available in time for the season opener. Color matching is a problem that money can solve… and it’s Nike. Come on!

6. Equally important, the Panthers are one of the few teams who (still) have not switched to Nike’s template (also, the Packers), and they’re basically wearing Reebok uniforms with Nike logos on them. Look at that metallic sheen while it lasts!

The Ultimate Eagles Uniform Poll

Dan Fuller - September 5, 2014

main

The Eagles begin their 2014 season on Sunday, and almost all topics have been thoroughly discussed, even uniforms, thanks to Nike’s issues with Midnight Green. But there’s always time for more uniform discussion as we count the hours until 1:00 on Sunday.

Below are seven questions all about the Eagles’ uniforms. We all know Kelly Green going to win, but just how overwhelming will it be? Throwbacks? A Nike re-design? Something more subtle? How do you like your helmet wings? It’s all covered below. Any especially strong opinions? Omissions? Suggestions? Find me on Twitter, @dancfuller.

The most important question.

Should the Eagles switch back to Kelly Green? Sure it’s technically not limited to only “Kelly Green or Midnight Green,” they wore blue and yellow in 2007, remember. It could be any other color, but if a change were ever made, of course it would only be to Kelly Green.

Kelly Green or Midnight Green

lots more after the jump…

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A Huge, Little Issue – More on Nike’s Green Jersey SNAFU

Dan Fuller - August 16, 2014

Ever wonder why green, counterfeit Eagles jerseys always look a little bit… off? There are plenty of good, fake white jerseys out there with the right patches and the spacing of the name just right, lots of black jerseys in the stands that could pass the quick eyeball test. Why do the even the best green ones look like they came from a website that gets a new URL every six months? Because the NFL and the Eagles made it that way in the mid-90s when they chose the Eagles new color scheme. Combined with Nike wanting to leave its mark on NFL uniform design, it’s a problem without a $1.1 billion solution.

black_jersey

Disclosure: This topic is the center of my Venn diagram of a personal interest (sports uniforms) and my job (large scale manufacturing for products for which color consistency is extremely important).

“The green jerseys won’t be ready in time.” Loaded statement of the year. The NFL both sets and polices their uniform rules with an iron fist. They keep their product in line; they keep their products in line. Non-team color shoes? You’re paying. Sock shenanigans? Get your wallet. In no way is the use of the Eagles alternate jersey for an unspecified amount of time part of some sort of plan of the Eagles or Nike. Any production issue which doesn’t have a turn-on date for the corrected product means that a production process which makes the correct product doesn’t yet exist. The Eagles and Nike will have little to say until the green jerseys are available, at which point they will release a brief statement as if the whole thing went down exactly according to some plan. At this point, the language in the official statement put this pretty squarely on Nike, but the only mitigating factor is if someone from the Eagles pulled the trigger much later than feasible (“It’s only a material change. No big deal, right? Right? Uh-oh.”).

So, how are the Eagles choices in the mid-90s creating this issue, almost twenty years later? It’s just dark green, right? Nope. Color matching is HARD. Color matching a specific, matte green for which you have a swatch and your target is a piece of white paper, and you’re doing spot color or 4 color process? Not that hard. Color matching a specific green on fabric? Getting harder. Color matching a specific metallic green on fabric? Very hard. Color matching a specific metallic green (or any metallic color, really) on multiple fabrics as required by Nike’s Elite 51 template? Extremely hard. The more metallic material (or thread) you add, the shinier the end product (obviously), but also the less green it gets. Use a darker green thread to compensate for the added metallic sheen… then the jersey looks too dark unless under bright lighting (speaking of which, this is why the Eagles pants just look like a dark grey/green mess in all but the sunniest 1:00 games). But Nike managed to match metallic colors for lots of teams in the past two years. Or did they?

2011, left. 2013, right.

2011, left. 2013, right.

Look at the Patriots navy blue pants in 2011 (Reebok) and 2013 (Nike). Nike took the metallic navy color spec from the Patriots, and changed it to non-metallic, matte navy (the Patriots silver pants also went from metallic silver to non-metallic grey). This is actually a good thing, though. Matte fabric gives a more uniform (pun!) color in bright lighting, while metallic and glossy materials have a noticeable highlight in daytime lighting with bright reflected light, so the Patriots navy pants look more navy with Nike’s material. It wasn’t only the Patriots; Nike made this change for most teams in 2012 (the 49ers’ and Saints’ gold pants now look more tan or “sand” than anything), with only a few stragglers, notably the Eagles sticking with their metallic fabrics. Non-metallic, matte Midnight Green would actually be an improvement for the Eagles given their current pants situation.

Another difficulty? “Midnight Green” isn’t a standard color. You want to try to tell your shop in China to make “Midnight Green” jerseys? You’ll need to send that factory an actual garment to use as the color target because Midnight Green doesn’t come on off-the-shelf rolls of fabric, like, you know, black or white (or for other teams who didn’t switch, silver for the Raiders and Panthers pants.) It’s easy to send a “closest Pantone number,” but jerseys will need the actual material to get a sense of the sheen and the difference between the material’s highlights and shadows. (in fairness, jerseys have been available since 1996…) But Nike’s not some random factory in China. [CORRECTION from Uni-Watch commenter “Rad:” This was even more accidentally prescient than I thought. The final assembly isn’t at factories in China at all.The on-field jerseys are made in the US; the retail jerseys in Central America. It’s extremely likely that the raw materials are made in China or elsewhere in Asia. Even if not, that doesn’t make the matching simpler.] This is the third year of their contract. Why are they having problems now?  Besides, Reebok was not the only company to have made the green jersey successfully. Russell, Starter, and Puma have all made on-field uniforms for the Eagles in the “Midnight Green era.” But how did Nike make it work with metallic fabrics last year and the year before?

As Kyle mentioned, the Eagles were one of five teams to not switch to any of the elements (collar, jersey materials, template, stripe material) of the “Elite 51” template (also included: Packers, Panthers, Falcons, Raiders – though some of these teams have since switched away from the metallic fabrics, unlike the Eagles) when Nike had their big unveiling before the 2012 season. Murmurings back then were that Nike was either putting their logo on Reebok’s product or that Nike bought the templates (stitching programs?) from Reebok as well as their material stock. The Eagles made an effort to point out that their 2014 jerseys now have the “flywire” collar (just like Nike sneakers! Because a collar that implies it locks down somehow makes sense on a football jersey. Synergy!), so they’re on-board with Nike for this change, but the conference calls among Nike, the Eagles, and the NFL must be AMAZING right now. Nike had two years to do something difficult; now, Nike retail jerseys have been available since 2012, but it’s important to note that the retail jerseys are made from different materials (obviously for the ~$100 price point, but the $200+ price point for an “on-field” jersey doesn’t get you an honest-to-god on-field jersey because football jerseys are customized by position and even player preference – think of the shoulder quilting you see on close-ups, nowhere to be found on “on-field” product available for sale). Based on the new jerseys (black and white) showing the panel construction of Nike’s Elite 51 template, I’m confident the issue comes down to getting the various fabrics which make up those panels to look like a garment with a single tone when all is said and done. Oh, yeah. Those panels are called “sweatboxes” by some people in the uniform community. This is what we’ve been missing, and the green jerseys, should they ever appear this year, will show this off, too.

And the best part of all of this? With each all-new uniform design Nike and the NFL release, Nike’s doing the same thing as what caused this green jersey issue for them. They use the dye sublimated patterns inside the numbers of the Seahawks, the retro-reflective numbers of the Buccaneers’ 2014 uniforms (and pretty much any gee-whiz features on their college uniforms). These are designed around their unique processes which, yes, makes it very difficult for counterfeiters to copy them, but it will be a huge bullet on the “Why the NFL should stay with Nike” the next time the on-field apparel contract is being negotiated (for the 2022 season) when Under Armor won’t give a clear answer the question as to whether their manufacturing partners can produce products which match Nike’s. Look for each successive Nike-era redesign to incorporate more and more Nike-specific “technology” – I use scare quotes around that because it’s not football performance-related technology. It’s Nike including as many components of the Nike design language into the NFL’s product, co-opting it as a Nike product: “flywire” as a brand regardless of functionality, matte colors, grey as a primary tone, volt highlights (that neon color on the Seahawks uniforms); all components of Nike’s consumer design language which transferred to the NCAA, then the NFL. The NFL does push back a little bit, see the trend of teams either removing flywire collars altogether or making the collar a subtler, single tone between 2012 and 2013, but for the most part, expect Nike to ask for everything in their redesigns so the compromise point is pushed farther from the true center. The Seahawks have an alternate jersey that’s grey. Somehow Nike convinced the team and the league that grey, the least colorful color, should be used as primary color. Also, of course, it’s a key part of Nike’s brand with respect to collegiate uniforms.

With all of that (way, way) out of the way, I’d be remiss to not mention that the new jerseys with the flywire look stupid, but I do realize that the absence of the feature will be one of the elements that makes pictures from this era look dated in 2030. I don’t like it, but I accept it. Check out this picture of Brian Dawkins from 2002. It looks just like a football uniform (heck, it’s practically the same as the current Eagles uniform – they really need to re-incorporate the green socks), but it very much looks like a football uniform from a bygone era. I’ve never liked the black alternate, but I’ve appreciated that it was rare, which made it somewhat special when they’ve worn it (at most, twice per season, and they sometimes chose to never wear it at all). Of course, being concerned they’ll wear it “all the time” this year is hand wringing and complaining about a potential problem before it has come to pass. The Eagles sometimes choose to wear white at home for September, so combined with wearing white for most away games, if Nike figures out how to match Metallic Midnight Green with their fabrics by Week 8, I expect we won’t see the black jerseys more than the usual twice.

UPDATE: MLB’s Fourth of July Caps are Here, and Yep, They’re Hideous

Dan Fuller - June 11, 2014

Voila_Capture 2014-06-11_12-41-24_PM

pic via New Era

Fashion editor Dan Fuller wrote this post in response to the leaked MLB Stars and Stripes caps for the 4th of July. The Phillies cap hasn’t been revealed yet, but we can get a pretty good idea of what it’s going to look like. 

 

Since 2008, the MLB has augmented, adjusted, and tweaked their teams’ hats for flag-waving reasons (and as of last year, jerseys, too), but this year they’ve added a team agnostic, league-wide feature to the hats to celebrate the Fourth of July (and, ahem,  sell merchandise). Previous years’ designs moved the league into red, white, and/or blue or camouflage, and changed the fill of a logo, or re-framed the entire hat on a field of camouflage. But this year, they’re adding a design appendage to every single logo throughout the league– the italicized star.

Wait. An italicized star, you say? What is this, a widely forgotten, mid-90s Astros uniform? You’re saying you want  an article about the best forgotten mid-90s baseball uniforms? Hey, new guy Jim, get on that. Enjoy the comments on that one.

Whenever the league moves the “America: Love it or Leave It” hats in the red/blue/white direction, the Phillies have the benefit of already being a “red” team with blue as an accent color (though the “flag blue” is closer to navy)  so everything generally works. It’s not like we’re in the situation of the A’s, pretending that green and yellow are enhanced by the hues of Old Glory. We’re beyond the point of good/bad/ugly for these hats, but let me mention that the result of the poll I posted for the Memorial Day design for this year came to the (unscientific) conclusion that people preferred the solid Navy hats from 2008 by more than 2:1 to the second place design, the similarly straight-forward solid red cap from ’09.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Verdict? The new caps are better than either this or last year’s camouflage hats, but that star-spangled… star looks ridiculous. Adding a design feature to every team’s logo is very low rent and similar to non-big deal college football and basketball teams wearing the generic Nike template.

Today, the 4th of July jerseys leaked, but MLB confirmed that they will not be worn on-field. Thankfully.

Voila_Capture 2014-06-11_12-34-57_PM

 

Don’t buy this.

via (@JWerthsBeard), (@PhilHecken)

UPDATE: Here’s the Phillies on-field cap, h/t reader Dave:

on field cap