Even the slightest change in a team’s uniform, be it a color adjustment or a helmet addition, can send college football fans into a fashion frenzy. Amidst the BCS shake-ups and NCAA scandals this year, fashion was a major focus throughout the 2011 season. On-field image is important to teams in helping with the recruiting process, in marketing and in drawing more attention to a program. And uniforms continue to push fashion boundaries as evident in the 16 different combinations that Under Armour unveiled for the University of Maryland this season. The bold sartorial styling of the team caused quite a stir among fans and media. When Michigan and Notre Dame broke tradition and unveiled retro gear for their “Under the Lights” matchup, fans did not shy away from voicing their critiques. For better or worse, the uniform craze will continue as the likes of Nike, adidas and Under Armour move forward in developing creative on-field fashions.
The Wall Street Journal assembled a panel of eight experts in the fashion business to break down the best and worst school styles. Included within the group were fashion designer Mark Ecko, graphic artist Josh Vanover and managing editor of the blog SlamxHype, Anthony Coleman. After reviewing the primary home attire for all 67 major-conference teams, the general takeaway was this: “the vast majority of schools could use a stylist,” as most of the uniforms were characterized as “boring.” But despite the boredom factor across the board, there were some clear cut standouts in the best and worst categories.
The experts hailed Michigan uniforms as the best of all, when it comes to traditional uniforms. The maize-and-blue duds and famous winged helmet received high praise. Marc Ecko especially liked the color weight on the jersey, while graphic artist Josh Vanover praised the “bold, bright colors” and “clean” fonts.
Perhaps the most controversial uniforms this season came from Under Armour, for the University of Maryland. Reactions from fans were mixed but in the case of this panel, the unis received high scores in the style department. “There’s a very European sensibility here, blocking areas using different design motifs,” said Mark-Evan Blackman, a professor of menswear at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “And whether you like it or not, it’s provocative, and uniforms should be just that.”
Rounding out the “best” group were Oregon’s attire, which was praised for it’s creativity, Colorado’s gear, called out for it’s “flattering” shoulder stripes and Virginia Tech’s unis, for orange and blue hues that appear to be an odd pairing, yet they still work.
When it comes to the “worst” college threads, color was a major factor in determining which schools made the list. Some believed that UCLA’s blue and gold color combo “doesn’t look intimidating,” while Clemson’s orange and purple hues were likened to the poppies in ‘The Wizard of Oz. The “Red and Whites” (i.e. Wisconsin, Indiana and North Carolina State) were a color combination viewed as too overdone for the panelists. Rounding out the worst of the worst were Baylor and Washington State.
For more on the fashion panel and their uniform critiques, check out The Wall Street Journal article here. Who would make your best and worst list?