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