The Colorado Rapids unveiled their new 2017 away jersey this week. The changes from the previous kit are minimal, but significant, and in my opinion, a step up.
Before diving into a review of the new kit, it’s important to remember that this is not an easy gig. Design and especially sports uniform/kit design is an area that fans are passionate about. VERY passionate. Crazy passionate. Like, “How dare you change the color on those stripes! How. Dare. You. Sir!” crazy.
Design is a subjective world where everyone has an opinion, and sports is a world where people place their identity. It is personal, and people want to rep their club in apparel that looks as strong as their love for their team. While I make my living as a designer and have designed for the sports/athletic apparel industry, my review of the new kit is through my own design lens based, yes, on education and experience, but also very much on plain old personal likes and dislikes. All that being said, you can’t make everyone happy, and I think Adidas played it safe this off-season for most of the released (or leaked) kits we’ve seen so far.
That being said, here’s the video of the new secondary jersey that the Rapids released this week:
The new jersey is okay. It’s a step up from the previous jersey, but it’s nothing mind-blowing. In the design world, we’d call this one the “safe” option: some small changes, but nothing to make anyone too uncomfortable with a radical new direction.
This is not a bad thing. It simply means we got a small change instead of a risky one.
Sometimes risky new designs are great (the original blue Colorado flag-themed kit was amazingly different in its time), and sometimes they look like a child’s Halloween fake-muscled superhero costume (DC United’s leaked new kit). Safe is okay and so far, on social media, at least, Rapids fans seem content and in many cases pretty excited about the new jersey.
There are a few significant differences in this year’s jersey and the previous:
1. Sleeves. The sleeves are now entirely blue. This color-blocking strategy is a winner. It pulls away from the abundant use of the primary yellow and creates a nice contrast. Color blocking works well for the “flag kits” because the Colorado flag colors are primary colors and generally play well with each other. Verdict: Thumbs up.
2. Buttons/collar. The new jersey has buttons leading up to the collar now. This seems like a superfluous addition. If anything, it gives the jersey the feel of pajamas more than a sporty new addition. When the design justification (provided by the Rapids here) for the red button is “Because, why not?” it tells me there wasn’t much thought to it other than, “Hey, we can make that top one red!” Without an actual fold-down collar, the buttons seem out of place and unnecessary. Verdict: Thumbs down.
3. Transamerica Logo. Maybe you noticed, and maybe you didn’t, but the kit sponsor logo has changed. The iconic building mark is gone, leaving only the wordmark. This was, in all likelihood, because of the buttons. Regardless, I’m a fan of using only the wordmark, and even though it’s significantly larger, it’s less of a distraction without the “building” mark. Verdict: Thumbs up.
4. The “C”. Where the Colorado flag was last season, now there is only the “C” from the flag. Dropping the “C” onto the bottom of the jersey seems like an afterthought. The Rapids are referring to it as a jock tag (it’s not, but why argue semantics when we’re talking about visual things, right?). The “C” without other elements of the flag feels unanchored; it’s simply floating around at the bottom of the jersey. Don’t get me wrong - I “get it,” but the execution is off. When the old kits used the ghosted “C” on the chest it included the white bar of the flag as well. This anchored it to the jersey. This new “C,” is just kind of down there floating around. It could fall off while one of our boys sprints down the pitch and we’d probably not even notice. Verdict: Thumbs down.
5. 5280. We love our “mile high” status in Colorado, don’t we? With so many interpretations for “mile high,” what’s not to love about it? “5280” moved from center-back below the collar on last year’s jersey to the sleeve cuff. It’s a smart placement for it and no other MLS team can lay claim to the 5280. Verdict: Thumbs up.
6. Colorado Flag. The flag moved from the “jock tag” area on last year’s jersey to center-back beneath the collar where “5280” lived last year. It’s a fine location. I’d prefer not to have the floating “C” at all, and keep it in last year’s spot, but it’s a good location after being evicted by Floating C. Verdict: Thumbs up.
There are enough differences to notice, but nothing different or innovative enough to challenge Rapids’ fans comfort. It’s the “safe option.” The new look does a nice job of creating more of a balance with colors in contrast to its overtly yellow predecessor.
There are some hits and some misses, but overall it’s not too shabby (not a real design term). What matters is that there are already plenty of Rapids fans who really dig this kit. If that means more fans sporting Rapids jerseys in the stands and creating a visual presence in support of our boys, then the kit is a smash hit success in my opinion.
While I’m not a huge fan of it personally, I think it’s a step up from last year and I’m looking forward to seeing excited Rapids fans sporting it around town and at DSGP. Verdict: Thumbs mostly up.
What do YOU think about the new kit? Sound off in the comments!