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More Q&A with Adam Clement

adam clement head shot 2.jpg

Yesterday on ESPN we had part one of my interview with Under Armour designer Adam Clement. Today on ESPN we have part two. And here on the blog I have a few extra questions and answers that didn’t make it into either of the ESPN segments. Without further ado:

Uni Watch: You designed the Brooklyn-themed design that the Maryland basketball team wore for its first game of this season, right? How’d that come about?

Adam Clement: We knew they were playing in Brooklyn, and we felt like there was probably an expectation that they’d come out with some kind of flag design. So we decided to go with something less expected. We also wanted to pay tribute to Brooklyn’s sports history, so we went with this design that evoked the Brooklyn Dodgers. My brother lives in Brooklyn now, and in early September my family and I were eating with him at Junior’s [the iconic Brooklyn deli and cheesecake shop]. I looked up on the wall and there was all this Brooklyn Dodgers paraphernalia. It really shows how important they were to Brooklyn…

UW: Wait, are you saying that this uniform design was inspired by a trip to Junior’s?

AC: No, no, but that kind of confirmed what we had already been working on.

UW: Let’s say I’m the athletic director at a major university and my uniform contract is up for renewal. I can choose Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Russell, Reebok, and so on. Obviously, there are lots of considerations that go into a decision like that — including financial factors — but from a design standpoint, why should I choose Under Armour?

AC: Because we put the university first. Everything we do is about the school. When we signed Northwestern. Before the ink was fully dry on that paper, were on campus — looking for inspiration learning about their heritage and history. Everything we ended up showing them was about them. And we weren’t just designing for the football team, but for all of their teams, the entire athletic program as a whole.

And when you add in the technology and innovation that we bring to every design, that’s a pretty good combination.

UW: Do you ever see another company’s design and think to yourself, “Ooh, that’s good — I wish I had thought of that”?

AC: Yeah. When people ask where I get my inspiration from, that’s one of my answers. If another company does something that I think is insanely gorgeous but it never crossed my mind — and that has happened — I actually get very frustrated, and I challenge myself to figure out why that idea hadn’t occurred to me. It helps me push myself to go to new places. A good motivator.

UW: By the same token, have you seen other companies use ideas that you can tell were inspired by — or maybe directly borrowing from — your work?

AC: I’d like to think imitation is the best form of flattery. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything of mine directly used by someone else, but maybe it’s happened. It’s certainly possible.

UW: When you were a kid doing uniform drawings, it was all about the visuals. But now you have to think about all these technological factors — fabrics, tailoring, construction. Has that been a big adjustment for you to make as a designer, to think about the whole physical package instead of just the visual aspect?

AC: You know, when I took this job, I still played baseball, hockey, and soccer. I don’t play soccer anymore, but I still play the others, so I’m still out there as an athlete, still thinking about how uniforms work from a performance standpoint, and I’ve been able to use a lot of my own personal experiences in the things that we create here.

UW: Last year, South Carolina had to abandon their Wounded Warrior jerseys because the numbers were too hard to read. Did you do that design, and if so, what was the full story there?

AC: I did do that design. During the pregame warm-ups, SEC officials expressed come concern over the visibility of the numbers, and as a result the team switched into their standard home jerseys. The good news is we still auctioned off the jerseys and raised $60,000, all of which went to the Wounded Warrior Project.

UW: What’s the one thing about uniforms and uniform design — or more than one thing, if you like — that fans don’t know about or would be surprised by?

AC: The amount of people who touch every project, and the amount of passion we have for this work. I used to work in PR, so I know all about spin-doctoring, but honest, it’s true.

Also, I think people would be surprised to know how far in advance we design. We have already designed Totenham’s 2014-15 soccer kits, for example. We’ve already designed lots of college football uniforms for the 2014 season. You’re always so far ahead of things that when they finally come out, you’ve already moved ahead to the next thing. So when people see a uniform unveiling, to them it’s new. But for us, it’s super-old already.


Big thanks to Adam for sharing his thoughts. If any designers at Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Russell, or any other company want to come forward, I’d love to interview you guys too.

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Top 10 reminder: I’m accepting nominations for the top 10 uni-notable moments of 2012. Details here.

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Uni Watch News Ticker: The Cardinals sent me one of last year’s jerseys and one of the new alternate jerseys, so I could show you the difference between the old and new embroidery styles. … Speaking of the Cardinals, I asked team president Bill DeWitt III a question that had been bugging me (and that I neglected to ask him during my recent interview with him): If the Cardinals had beaten the Giants in the NLCS and advanced to the World Series, would they have kept wearing
the “2011 World Champions” patch, along with the 2012 World Series patch, or would they have removed the championship patch for the Series? DeWitt’s answer: “I wondered that myself. I think we would have wanted to wear both — one on each side — but I think it would have been MLB’s ultimate call. Too bad we came one win short of finding out.” ”¦ Further confirmation that Oregon will be wearing yellow in the Fiesta Bowl. … Interesting article about Jerry Stackhouse of the Nets, the first Brooklyn athlete to wear No. 42 since Jackie Robinson. … A Little League team sponsored by a meat market? Sign me up (from Brian Mazmanian). … Wanna see a really cool Oregon uniform? Try this on for size. That’s the 1894 University of Oregon Medical Department football team (awesome find by Michael Orr). … Need some hockey socks? Look here (from Anthony Nuccio). … The Hershey Bears have unveiled their uniform for the Outdoor Classic (from John Muir). … Also from John: The new logo for the University of California has prompted a storm of criticism. … Here are some of the fan-submitted designs for the Brewers’ uni design contest (from Josh Claywell). … If you can ignore the world’s lamest headline, the upshot here is that the Seahawks will wear gray this weekend. ”¦ “Chris Paul wore Wake Forest-colored sneakers in Wednesday night’s Clippers/Bobcats game,” notes Jonee Eisen. “He is, of course, a native Carolinian and WF alum.”

Tomorrow: The annual reader-appreciation raffle.

Comments (64)

    Was wondering that myself. If Oregon wears yellow, then purple would be more of a contrast for KSU than white. Hence, color on color.

    Dunno why, but the fact that the bat head is oriented differently on the alt — coming out at us instead of going away — makes a big difference visually. A positive one, imo. Not a cards fan but they did a bang-up job on that alt.

    Hey Paul,

    As someone who grew up in Berkeley in the shadow of Cal and who is also a proud alumnus of UCLA, the new University of California logo is *not* soley for UC Berkeley (Cal). The new logo applies to the entire University of California system. 5th graph in the linked piece adds some clarity.

    All the best,

    But it still looks like shite. Sheesh — all those design alums (BS, Engineering, UCLA meself) and they couldn’t come up with something better?

    I was also amused how the article didn’t make any connection between “Let there be Light” and “the book” (on the old logo). I’m not at all religious, but that always seemed to me, um, kind of obvious.

    Seattle’s going with the look that matches well to their typical winter weather(and Toronto’s – which is where they’ll be playing) -uuugh.

    In my opinion, that light gray (grey?) looks terrible on the football field. Ole Miss is another team that comes to mind that has used it. The uniforms just look dirty and bland. Not sure why there is an effort to make that color trendy.

    Agree on both counts. Encouraging number of entries, in keeping with Wisconsin civic legacy, and strong majority buy-in for the blue-and-yellow.

    My Aunt Peggy married a guy from the Milwaukee Journal (mid-1930s), and so introduced me to two big enthusiasms: Wisconsin and the Front Page era of American journalism. One of the cousins suggested state-line signs that would read: “Welcome to Wisconsin, Land of Beefy Blondes…”

    Really enjoyed Adam Clements interviews, Paul. Well done. I envy his job, but even more, I envy his employee discount.

    Think Bill DeWitt knows the stitch-count of his Cardinals birds-on-bats design? That would be another question I’d ask him.

    RE: Clements baseball pic: Is that Under Armour logo Photoshopped on there? Sure looks like it!

    Blow it up. There’s a fold in the sleeve where the logo is, but the logo isn’t folded, warped or tweaked. Why my eye stopped on that, I have no idea…

    ..use the image linked in the text “…wood bat league” and you’ll notice it there. Not so much by clicking on the pic.

    Aaaaaanyway, nice job. I wish you could make that a week long project!

    “We have already designed Totenham’s 2014-15 soccer kits”

    someone want to head on over to TK’s house with some smelling salts this morning?

    “The Cardinals sent me one of last year’s jerseys and one of the new alternate jerseys…”

    someone want to head on over to TQ’s house with some smelling salts this morning?

    That Oregon med team picture is very cool. I think I see my orthopedic guy in there. (My orthopedic guy is very very old).

    Way too many of the people redesigning the Brewers took advantage of the ability to use contrasting side panels on the jerseys.

    i had been thinking, keep all the patches as-is (wordmark, underline, and bear), but move the bear up 3 inches. then it would be much better. maybe even scale the bear up just a bit. right now, they are a bit too disconnected.

    Those would be great adjustments. I dig the color palette and the Wordmark. The bears is pretty neat too!

    Nice job with this interview, Paul.

    I did, though, find Adam’s response to your question about how he would respond to those people who complain about constant uniform changes to be somewhat patronizing. Basically his answer is, “I can accept that people don’t like change,” which is an answer that misses the larger issue.

    My issue is not with change. My issue is with turning on a game – Mississippi State v A&M, for instance – and not being able to instantly recognize either team. So, in that sense, my preference isn’t an appeal to tradition but an appeal to reasonableness. I don’t think an expectation for some type of “brand loyalty” is the same thing as not being open to change.

    Although, at one level it is. If these companies are designing for the 18-year-old player and if the only brand these players care about is the brand of constant change (and short attention spans), then the end result is uniforms that don’t have (and don’t have to have) any connection with tradition. So, Adam’s response confuses the matter of someone being opposed to change because of an attachment to a particular item (a particular uniform as it has always been) and someone expecting some degree of visual brand loyalty based in tradition.

    Personally, I don’t like the Maryland uniform and most of the Oregon uniforms, but they are recognizable as being attached to a university brand. My real issue is with the BFBS and the white storm trooper looks – two looks that lack attachment to any particular university brand.

    Yeah, exactly.

    I found it interesting that in the first part of the interview, he talked a lot about how the first priority is something flashy and attractive, that will draw the attention of kids and promote the school’s brand, and in today’s half, he talked a lot about tradition and wandering the campuses, soaking up as much of the culture and history of the school as possible.

    I think this translates to, “We dig around and find some really obscure design from the early days of Sport, something that no one alive could possibly remember, then we tart it up a bit to give it a certain ‘je non se Hip Hop.'”

    Sort of like how Brandiose claims they spent months in both Reading, PA and Eugene, OR getting to know the locales so they could overhaul the look for the minor league teams. If they had really spent months in either place, I’m sure they would have not produced the ridiculous uniforms for those teams.

    The Minnesota Golden Gophers are showing what their jersey will look like for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Lots o’ patches:


    Gratuitous Helmet Logo- Check
    Name of Conference Who Can’t Count- Check
    Dead Guy- Check
    Mark of Satan-Check
    Overheated Bowl Game Name- Check
    Adolescent Slogan- Check

    Okay, we’re done here.

    “Congratulations, Seahawks,” [Dave] Dameshek said. “You’ve turned the color grey, normally associated with being boring, into being viscerally nauseating. Shame on you. Jim Zorn and I are disgusted by this.”

    Hey Phil, do you want to do a Top 10 Uni-Quotes of 2012?

    I don’t know if this was ever mentioned before, but I was at a Dunkin Donuts yesterday, and there was an Eli Manning cardboard cutout where the Nike/NFL logos were whited out on his jersey, but the Nike logo was still on his pants (but he was standing at an angle so the entire swoosh isn’t visible)

    I found a picture on eBay link

    They told the graphics guy, “Get rid of anything that looks like this–>'(swoosh)’. The one one his pants did look like a swoosh, so it didn’t get PS’d.

    or so I imagine it.

    Brooklyn Dodgers is the last thing I would have thought of had I not read the description of that Terps jersey. Also, the Dodgers never played with “Brooklyn” on their jerseys (as far as I know), so were UA to write out “Terps” instead of the state name on the jersey as well as have made it Dodger blue, it would have made more sense. All I see is a dirty gray jersey with a goofy collar and arm-hole area doodles and script. What does any of that have to do with the Dodgers? Sorry for the rant, I’m a die-hard, very traditionalist Dodgers fan. Oh well, such is life… I would have called them the Maryland Bridegrooms for the game! Or maybe the Tip-Tops- that would have been cool. That’s why this is his job and not mine I suppose.

    The Dodgers did indeed wear “Brooklyn” on their jerseys link So while the UA rationale may be a stretch, it may not be as big a stretch as you might imagine.

    “….Because we put the university first. Everything we do is about the school…”

    I appreciate Paul doing the interview and agreeing to disagree on certain aspects, but this quote is just lazy, it’s just interchangable for so many different scenarios.

    I don’t disagree. One reason that exchange didn’t make the ESPN cut is that I thought it was weak. Maybe shouldn’t have bothered to run it here either.

    Actually, as a fan of this blog, I’d prefer you always run the entire interview un-edited. I understand why you have to edit for But a blog doesn’t need editing.

    All in all, I enjoyed the 3 parts of the interview.

    I don’t know, but the new logo for the University of California reminds me of a blue version of the Foodland Ontario logo.
    It’s on the right hand side of this link..


    That 1894 football uniform in the ticker

    Is that the earliest known photograph of a GRAPHIC T-SHIRT?

    you think the University of California’s new logo is bad ?

    have you seen the University of Alabama’s new logo?


    paul, do you know if clement is/was a fan of uni watch before you two met? seems like it’d be right up his alley.

    Yes, he was a big fan, although he’d never contacted me or anything like that. We met last month at the Maryland/Kentucky game in Brooklyn (Under Armour had a lot of people there) and he was *very* enthusiastic about Uni Watch and about meeting me — even though he knows I’ve had negative things to say about some of his designs. We hit it off right away. Lots of mutual personal and professional respect, even when we don’t agree. Good guy.

    Cute video, but I only needed to see one square and knew exactly what the logo was going to look like.

    Was just one, and noticed that the Lions logo on the team navigation bar across the very top of the site seems to be Bubbles and not the updated one. Granted its small, but I’ve zoomed in and definitely looks like the old one. Am I crazy?

Comments are closed.