October 18, 2008

Collegiate Critique: University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky men's basketball team recently unveiled new basketball uniforms.  Designed by Nike, the uniforms draw inspiration from the state's tradition of thoroughbred racing.  The uniforms feature a subtle checkerboard pattern inspired by the racing silks of Secretariat.  This type of integrated fabric treatment is not foreign to sports uniforms.  The Orlando Magic of the early 2000's donned a star pattern and the New England Patriots of the late 90's featured a vertical stripe pattern on similar blue uniforms.  

The one puzzling aspect of the design is the reversed K of 'Kentucky' across the front of the jersey.  It is a distracting design feature, and given that the school abbreviates itself as UK, it seems especially misguided.  Also noticeable is the excessive length of the uniform bottoms, which, combined with the knee high socks, makes the  checkered ensemble start to resemble a Scottish kilt.

Nevertheless, the idea is commendable, especially given that it has historical significance to the area.  Its always refreshing to see teams 'looking back' into history for inspiration instead of attempting to create something that is 'forward looking', which usually ends up involving a bad mix of gradients, 3D effects, and unnecessary clutter.  The design is especially smart because it can be extended to other elements of the UK Basketball brand, as they have already applied the checker pattern to flags and the backdrop for the press conference.  

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