WNBA

WNBA Cloth Talk: Analyzing our favourite new uniforms ahead of the 25th anniversary season

nike-wnba-explorer-rebel-uniforms
Five of the WNBA's new looks (Nike/WNBA)

Welcome to Cloth Talk! An ode to the phrase coined by DJ Khaled, NBA.com's Gilbert McGregor and Kyle Irving delve into all things style in the NBA. From uniform reveals to sneaker choices and everything in between, the two experts give their takes and provide clarity on concepts that are impossible to ignore.

In the latest edition, we get into the major sartorial developments in the WNBA.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Back like we never left! But the occasion calls for it.

In celebration of its 25th season, the WNBA is going to have quite a few new looks in 2021 - 36 to be exact.

The league and Nike have collaborated to roll out three new uniforms for each of the league's 12 teams - the Heroine (home white), Explorer (team colour) and Rebel (female empowerment) Editions - with the goal to tell H.E.R. story.

In my humble opinion, they nailed each and every one of them. Before I get too far into it, though, what are your initial thoughts on the new looks for the league's silver anniversary?

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): First off, my mind is blown with the "H.E.R. story" being the underlying reason for the three names Heroine, Explorer and Rebel. That's the first time I've had that brought to my attention and just when you thought this jersey rollout couldn't get any better, it just did.

But you and I had a quick previous conversation about these and how Nike and the WNBA nailed it. Very rarely do jersey reveals get this much of a unanimous response, but I don't know if there's a bad thing to say about the approach. They're awesome.

McGregor: I had a similar reaction to realizing that's why they chose those names. I think I got so caught up in each of the sets individually, I looked at them independently until I took a step back and saw what they combined to do as a whole, names included.

I agree - it takes the entire rollout to another level.

I think you know me well enough to know what question is coming next … I gotta know what's your top 3, or so. Cause it's kinda hard to narrow it down

Irving: We'll go in descending order here to build some suspense. Coming in at No. 3, I gotta go with the Las Vegas Aces' Rebel Edition.

As we've talked about a number of times on Cloth Talk, black and gold just do not miss. And since I jumped on the Aces' bandwagon during their first WNBA season, I have to show them some love here. The split pattern on the uniform is smooth, the suits on the belt buckle of the shorts look clean and to top it off, the pocket aces on the slits of the jersey is a dope touch.

McGregor: 🤝 I like where we're headed here, I had a feeling we'd be on the same page with those because of our affinity for black and gold. Las Vegas is one of the league's most exciting teams with plenty of star power and this set perfectly encapsulates that Vegas feel.

And any time I can give a fellow Deac a shoutout I will, so it'll look natural that fellow Wake Forest alum and back-to-back Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby will be donning the black and gold like she did during her days in Winston-Salem.

I won't ruin the suspense here and I'll add that the Aces' Rebel Edition is No. 2 in my top 3.

Now that I've successfully muddled things by confusing the order, I'll continue by adding that the New York Liberty "Equality" set comes in at No. 3 for me.

I think the colour pops perfectly, especially in that it's meant to mirror the Statue of Liberty and the accents bring it all together and the message of "Equality" speaks for itself.

We were essentially robbed of former No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu's rookie season, so I'm excited to see her make her mark in Year 2 and do so in style.

Irving: If we went top five instead of top three, those would've come in at No. 4 for me. You have to imagine any of the three editions of the 23-year-old superstar's jersey will sell like crazy with how nice those came out. They give off the same vibe as the Charlotte Hornets "Buzz City" City Edition jerseys this year, which you know were one of my favourites from that jersey release.

No. 2 for me (and spoiler alert, I'm coming in with three Rebel Edition uniforms), are the Connecticut Sun's Rebel Editions.

The reasoning being that Connecticut is right down the road from me. I've been to Connecticut Sun games at Mohegan Sun before. They're the closest local WNBA team to where I grew up, and I have to admit -and I'm sure I'm not the only one - when I saw "Keesusk" I didn't even know which team it was. So I did some research and the team's official Twitter account had the whole explanation broken down.

Paying tribute to the Mohegan Tribe, the word "Keesusk" means "Sun". And all the other little details and idiosyncrasies of the uniform pull it all together to make sure they did the tribute thoroughly and correctly. The shorts are too fresh, too.

McGregor: I feel like when there's a personal element, it always adds a little extra. So you having gone to their games before fits that bill perfectly. And you definitely weren't alone in not knowing which team "Keesusk" was for, because I wondered the same thing.

I actually think that signifies a well-thought-out uniform.

There are a number of localized elements that pay homage and, as intended, tell the story the way it's meant to be told. In paying tribute thoroughly and correctly, you and I both learned something we probably wouldn't have learned otherwise and it's done on the medium of a uniform that will be worn for the world to see when Connecticut looks to get back to the Finals after falling one win shy last year.

It's really cool to think how many more people will learn what we just picked up when they see the Sun don their Rebel editions this upcoming season.

That being said, now that we've built up the suspense. What's your No. 1?…I'm about 90% certain you and I are on the same page once again

Irving: This isn't hyperbole. The Indiana Fever Rebel Editions are the toughest new jersey release I've seen.

For me to say that, you obviously know I have to be a "Stranger Things" fan. And don't get me wrong, I love the show, I can't wait for the new season, but it's not even like it's my favourite show on TV or anything like that. I just feel like doing a jersey collab like this, it could have easily come off forced or corny and this is not even close to either of those things.

The font, the "011" on the belt buckle, the speckled red of The Upside Down. They're absolutely perfect.

McGregor: So I was on point with my 90% certainty.

It's kind of like the famous discussion we often visit, citing the words of the great Russell Westbrook who said a fit can never be a 10 out of 10 unless you take a risk and that's exactly what the Fever did with these uniforms.

For those unfamiliar with "Stranger Things," it takes place in fictional Hawkins, IN, so the parallel was drawn there.

In going with the signature font, I immediately recognized the reference and, honestly, the theme song started playing in my head. By relying on subtleties, the uniforms pay homage without being corny.

These are like those photoshop concepts you see but think would never get made. And I mean that as a 100% compliment.

Irving: Now if only Nike can tie it all together with some Hawkins Phys. Ed warmups to complete the look.

McGregor: Glad you mentioned warmups, cause before we wrap I have to mention that this rollout also includes a bevy of new off-the-court and pregame styles including the "Team 13" collection, which features Nike's take on the signature orange hoodie.

Real quick, we both showed A LOT of love to the Rebel unis, any specific Heroine or Explorer edition that stands out to you?

Irving: If I'm being honest, it would be the LV Aces' Red Explorer's. I almost like those more than their Rebel's. But for the sake of getting another team into the mix, the Chicago Sky's Explorer's are cool too.

The unique thing about the pinstripes, other than of course, keeping the pinstripes in the family of the city, is the 10x10 pinstripe "grid" is meant to represent Chicago's city blocks. Again, just an intricate touch to make all of these uniforms more relatable to those familiar with the details they're pointing out.

How about you? Which of the Heroine or Explorer Editions caught your eye?

McGregor: The pinstripes definitely deserve love! Otherwise, for me it came down to the Explorer editions of LA Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury, and it was tough to decide.

I like the palm tree motif on the Sparks uniforms but the gradient pattern on the Mercury uniform makes it too unique for me to overlook.

It helps that the Mercury have a Superteam with the GOAT Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and newly-acquired Kia Nurse. These uniforms could very well be on The Finals stage, too.

With those and the Suns' "Valley" uniforms, Phoenix might be home to the best uniforms in basketball.

Irving: I almost went with the LA Sparks unis too. The palm tree in the lettering and palm leaves on the side were nice. Plus I liked how as one of the most recognizable (if not the most recognizable) WNBA franchise, they elected to keep their look similar to what they've done in years past.

The Mercury's Rebel Editions were cool, too. I really could say that about all of those though. It would be never-ending.

McGregor: Indeed, I guess all that's left is seeing these in action.

That being said, there's a new generation of players set to join the WNBA as its draft will be held on Thursday, April 15.

Then, as the 25th season tips off, the new uniforms will be just a part of the celebration, as the league is set to honour The W25, or its 25th-anniversary team. And I can say with 100% certainty that Taurasi and four-time champ Sue Bird will be included.

Simply put, we've got a lot to look forward to in this WNBA season.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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