Is That a Hologram on Your Shirt or Are You Just Sweating Profusely?

If you hadn’t heard it was coming, or missed the announcement yesterday, UNC unveiled a new look for its men’s basketball uniforms. There were mixed reactions around the internet. Here are a few samples from various message boards:

  • “I usually stay out of the uniform threads because it’s a matter of taste and some new unis actually look good. This does not.”
  • “The hologram reminds me of the jerseys over there in jersey”
  • The 1976 Chicago White Sox are laughing at those uniforms.
  • “Did we keep our receipt?”
  • “Was this Holden Thorp’s idea?”
UNC's new Nike Aerographic jerseys

UNC's new Nike Aerographic jerseys

It’s not that I’m opposed to change. I was all for introducing navy football uniforms. Heck, the thing I’d love to see the most would be a matte finish helmet, similar to what Oregon and some other schools have had. But change for the sake of change is never a good idea. In this case, Nike is trying to push the new* aerographic look on all of the schools that wear their uniforms.

*Dook, Michigan State, Gonaza, Memphis and Oregon first wore them back in 2009 so it isn’t all that new.

So, new uniforms, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways…

More ≠ Better

There is way too much going on inside the aerographic design. It feels like I’m looking at a 13 year old UNC fan’s MySpace page. If you could vomit UNC basketball clip art, this would be the result. Why not pick one graphic (or two at most) and make it as easily discernible as possible? I count 9 separate elements within the aerographic:

How many pieces of clip art can one fit onto the back of a jersey?

  1. Outline of the state of North Carolina
  2. Tar heeled foot logo
  3. National Championship years
  4. The Old Well
  5. A giant basketball
  6. The words “North Carolina”
  7. The year “1793”
  8. Some sort of strange leopard or camo print background
  9. Wierd spikes coming out of the top and bottom of the solid portion behind the Old Well

The “aerographic” is basically a watermark. It’s faint, and easier to see from certain directions in certain light. It’s going to be difficult to see the details except for close ups on tv anyway, so why go to the effort to make it vastly more complicated and even more difficult to see exactly what it is?

Choice of Graphics

Not only did they overload the hologram with graphics, but some of their choices were questionable at best. If you want to put the Old Well, fine. It’s iconic. If you want to put the outline of the state, great. It’s been the center of the court for decades. If you want a tar heeled foot, awesome. It’s a highly recognizable logo. But a basketball? That’s original. I guess we’re the only team that plays with one of those…

Furthermore, 1793? Really? The University was chartered in 1789 and the doors first opened in 1795, yet we decided to go with 1793? Instead of choosing year the nations first public university was founded, we decided to go with the year the first brick was laid…on a basketball jersey…for a team that’s most highly discussed weakness is outside shooting. I’m not a big believer in superstition, but if you are you can’t be thrilled about that.


Let’s do this section bullet style:

  • If you have to add the hologram, why only put it down the center of the jersey instead of all the way to the edge? It just makes it look even more like a sweat stain than a design choice.
  • If you’re going to put the national championship years, why cover them up with the player’s name? You can’t read a single one of them and at 6 letters, Barnes has one of the shorter last names, so you won’t be able to read them on any jersey.
  • If you’re going to put the Old Well as the most prominent feature, why cover half of it with the cheap looking basketball graphic and the other half with the player’s number?
  • I don’t know why you would add a footprint on top of the state outline, but the awkward placement and busyness is really a microcosm of the design as a whole.
  • Leopard print? Spikes? Was the designer basing this off of a Geocities website?
  • Why change the font for “North Carolina” and “1793” from what is used everywhere else on the jersey? The one they chose looks like the font you would use on a Fisher Price toy.

What would be better?

You may be asking, “if you hate it so much, why don’t you design something better?” Well, someone beat me to it. I found these links pointing to a jersey mock up with a different version of the aerographic. I don’t like the idea of the hologram in general, but if we’re going to do it, why not something more like this? Just a simple argyle pattern with an interlocking NC at the bottom. Can someone hire this guy to design our jerseys?

Alternate Aerographic Mock Up

Click on the image to check out the full-size mock ups on Flickr

Nike is known for having one of the brightest and most creative marketing groups in the world, yet this is what they came up with? Did they just hire some graphic designer off Craigslist and pay them $20 to put this together? Did they get someone’s high school son to put this together in MS Paint? How many man hours went into discussion and approval of this? I hope it wasn’t more than one because otherwise it wasn’t worth it.

Ultimately this isn’t going to affect much. It’s just a jersey and it’s not a drastic change. Once the games start, I’ll stop complaining about how ugly these are and will really just consider it a minor annoyance while watching on TV. However, I think ultimately people will view these the same way we view the debacle of replacing North Carolina on the front with an interlocking NC and just say, “What were we thinking?” Although I’d prefer if instead we said, “Remember that year we won the national championship in those weird jerseys?”

About William

William is a life-long Tar Heel, UNC alumnus and the developer of this website. You can follow him on twitter @wearnhardt.
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13 Responses to Is That a Hologram on Your Shirt or Are You Just Sweating Profusely?

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  1. William says:

    I didn’t even mention how much I hate the black strip across the back of the neckline. What is the point of that? Black is not one of our colors.

    Next thing you know they’ll be proposing entirely black uniforms for us…

    1. Marc says:

      Those are brutally ugly. You definitely won’t be winning in style this year.

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