The Seattle Sounders 2017 Heritage Kits are here.
The Sounders released their latest uniform on Thursday, an all-white version with teal blue accents and homages to the club’s 40-plus year history. The white kits will join the Sounders’ home Rave Green and alternate Pacific Blue for the 2017 campaign.
SoundersFC.com caught up with adidas' Director of Soccer Sports Marketing Zola Short to get more insight into the creation of the new secondary kit (NOTE: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity).
SOUNDERSFC.COM: Why the Heritage Kit this year?
SHORT: One of the things we as a brand have been doing is looking for opportunities to bring the past into the future. This year, just from a brand standpoint, it seemed like a great opportunity for us to bring some classic elements back into your kit.
We have been secretly wanting to play around with or put our own spin on the previous kit. I think that’s fairly clear, I hope we didn’t steal too directly from it. That kit the Sounders had has always been something that as a product and a design team we’ve been really excited to work on at some point. We’ve actually pitched it once or twice. To get the opportunity to do it, we were actually really, really thrilled.
SOUNDERSFC.COM: What does the design process look like to create these kits?
SHORT: For 2017, we started this design process in 2015. In April of 2015, our design team in Germany, who collaborate with us closely in the U.S., started putting together a plan and idea around all kits, just kind of a general design concept and design language that they want to see rolled out across the world.
Our product manager, Mike Walker, then puts his eye on it and provides an MLS perspective and starts coming up with ideas and starts having some initial thoughts. He pulls together an initial brief that goes out to all clubs in May, so in May of 2015, he says, ‘Here is our overall brand and design language that we’re going to be using for the 2017 season. What are the elements that you really want to speak to? What are the things that you want to bring out in your kit in 2017?’ From there, you guys provide that feedback and then we start designing some art. In July, we settle on what that art is, usually around the MLS All-Star Game and then we move into prototyping.
You guys would see your first prototype in December of 2015, right around MLS Cup. Then we have a final prototype that gets delivered to the team in April of 2016. Those prototypes are opportunities to tweak and make sure that we are matching colors appropriately, making sure it’s coming together the way we wanted it to. Finally, we lock it in and we get it bought and delivered a couple months later.
SOUNDERSFC.COM: What material is the kit made out of?
SHORT: We actually made it out of a pique fabric. It’s a performance pique fabric so it feels like an old-school polo. It’s got that old-school feel to it. It’s a nice little subtle detail. We could have done it in another material, but using pique really, really makes a difference and harkens back to how most people used to wear polos or at least the material that most polos are made out of.
SOUNDERSFC.COM: You included a throwback Seattle Sounders logo on the back of the neck. What went into adding that?
SHORT: We’ve always been interested in using some of the old marks and bringing them back when and where we could. Legally, it can always get a little tricky, but we got sign off on it and we were pumped to have it back there. We were thrilled to be able to include it.
SOUNDERSFC.COM: A noticeable addition to this kit is the collar. Why did you decide to include that?
SHORT: Collars can be hit or miss with players. Some guys can’t stand the feel of the collar around their neck. We’ve been pretty careful about putting collars on kits because we know that it is certainly something players can be sensitive about.
We liked that the collar was a little bit shorter, that it also had a really good feel to it for the guys to be able to wear it how they want, whether they want the top button done or not. It’s actually come back in style as well, we see it across Europe and we’re starting to see it more and more in the U.S.
We just wanted to bring that lifestyle element to the field. And of course the old kits we were drawing inspiration from had collars on them, but they were big, floppy 1980s collars, so we also wanted to make sure we were putting a little spin on that as well.
SOUNDERSFC.COM: The teal blue is a nice touch as well. Where did that idea come from?
SHORT: You guys have that cyan in your color palette in the past and it was there on the ’84 kit, so it seemed like a no-brainer to bring it back. We love it. It’s a nice differentiator. You have the Rave Green and the Pacific Blue, so you bring in the white as well, but for us to be able to bring in another different pop, it’s a great opportunity to help us tell a different story and connect it back to that retro kit.