The Atlanta Hawks are scheduled to unveil their new uniform set at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave everyone a sneak peek, posting photos of the new uniforms late Tuesday night:
You can see larger versions of the advance photos here.
This is an unusual uniform set on several levels, from the atypical color scheme and the sublimated triangle pattern to the mix-and-match factor and the lack of the team name on any of the jerseys. Let's go one element at a time:
1. The color scheme. Ugh, what a mess. That fluorescent green color goes by many names -- neon, highlighter, Volt, Electricity and more -- but by any name, as we've noted before, it's the flavor of the month and will look badly dated in a few years. More important, it looks pretty bad right now -- too loud, too undignified, too clown-like, especially in conjunction with the red tones. The effect is sort of like a nuclear-irradiated Ronald McDonald.
Even worse, the uniform colors don't match the team's new logo, which was revealed earlier this month and is just red and white -- no neon green, no black. Why would you feature two colors so prominently on your uniforms (and on your new merchandise, for that matter) and leave those colors out of your logo? The whole package feels badly out of sync. Grade: D
2. The fabric pattern. Those little sublimated triangles first surfaced on the team's Christmas uniforms, which leaked last month, so it's not surprising to see them on the basic uni set. They're widely assumed to be some sort of feather pattern, although we'll have to wait until the official unveiling to hear the full explanation. In any case, here's the only question that matters: Do they look good? And the answer, at least judging from these initial photos, is no. The fabric pattern, which looks more quilted than feather-like, feels like a gimmicky distraction. But there's a decent chance that the fabric will look different under arena lighting conditions (maybe better, maybe worse), so let's wait and see before passing judgment. Grade: Incomplete
3. The white home uniform. Probably the best of the three, but the neon trim ruins it. Swap the neon tones for a basic yellow and we can talk. Interesting that they've chosen to use the city name instead of the team name here, but there's nothing wrong with that. The Knicks have been doing it for decades. Grade: C-minus
4. The black road uniform. Remember the Mavericks' infamous "trash bag" uniforms from 2003? Nowadays trash bags come with little built-in diamond patterns. Hmmm, does that remind you of anything? The vertically lettered "Hawks" on the shorts is a nice touch, but that's not enough to save this design. Grade: D-plus
5. The red alternate uniform. Worst of the bunch. Between the searing red and the fluorescent trim, these uniforms likely will be visible from space. Bonus disaster points for rendering the "Pac-Man" logo on the shorts in neon, which makes the hawk mascot look nauseated (remember, neon green is also the color for poison control logos), and he's probably not the only one who's feeling queasy right about now. Under normal circumstances we might need to discuss that hyper-stylized "A," but that would be like discussing the Titanic's paint job while the ship was going down. Grade: F
6. The mix-and-match factor. One of the photos posted Tuesday night suggests that the jerseys and shorts can be intermixed. If so, that would create an interesting visual carousel. It might not improve any of the basic uniform configurations, but it couldn't hurt. Grade: B-plus
Interestingly, several observers on social media are already saying things like: "Everyone over 30 will hate these uniforms and everyone under 30 will love them." That remains to be seen, but let's say, for the sake of argument, that it's true. Now ask yourself this: Shouldn't a successful uniform set have some appeal for a team's entire fan base, not just a subset of it? Isn't it kind of sad that a uniform set could end up being a generational wedge that could divide a team's fan base instead of uniting it?
Remember, there's a difference between good design, which tends to resist demographic typecasting, and fashion, which is easily market-targeted. The Hawks' new uniforms feel like they're on the wrong side of that divide.
Paul Lukas is 51, although he makes up for it by being very immature. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch membership program or his Uni Watch T-Shirt Club, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.