Uni Watch is a media project that deconstructs the finer points of sports uniforms (and occasionally other topics) in obsessive and excruciating detail. It’s not about fashion — it’s about documenting and maintaining the visual history of sports design, and about minutiae fetishism as its own reward. If that concept doesn’t make sense to you, no problem — Uni Watch definitely isn’t for everyone, and there have always been people who Don’t Get It™. But for those who understand the pleasures of detail obsession, programmatic classification systems, information overload, and sports history, you’ve come to the right place.
Uni Watch debuted in May of 1999, as a column in the sports pages of The Village Voice (they already had a column devoted to hockey fights, so adding a uniform column wasn’t much of a stretch). It was a very small column in those days, and it was designed primarily for print, not for the web, so there weren’t any photo links. When the Voice sports section was eliminated in 2003, the column briefly moved to Slate.com. Then, in the summer of 2004, the column moved to ESPN.com, where it continued to run until March of 2019. The column briefly ran on Sports Illustrated’s website later in 2019. This blog, designed to supplement the column, launched on May 17, 2006.
People often ask me, “How’d you get the idea to write about uniforms?” The short answer is that I already had a lot of experience writing about the small details of brand design, package design, industrial design, and so on. I’d always been a big sports fan, so applying that detail-driven sensibility to uniforms seemed like a natural next step. Plus my girlfriend got tired of me pointing at the TV and saying, “Look, look at his socks!” (or whatever) every time we watched a ballgame. “Y’know, Paul,” she said, “maybe you need an outlet for this.”