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A Redesign of the Portland Trail Blazers’ Uniforms: A Deep Dive Into The History of Portland #RipCity

This is a column from guest contributor, Kyle Hamlin.


I have redesigned the Portland Trail Blazers’ uniforms with a renewed emphasis on several distinct, iconic elements that have been featured in past iterations. My philosophy on redesigning the uniforms of established franchises is to keep it simple and to embrace the most recognizable elements of the organization’s brand identity.

In the case of the Trail Blazers, design elements from past uniforms that stood out to me were: 1) The diagonal “blaze” striping across the front of the jersey continuing vertically down the left side of the shorts; 2) The all-lowercase font used for the team’s wordmark from 1970 to 1991; and 3) The team’s wordmark stitched vertically on jerseys worn from 1975 to 1977.

These three design elements struck me as being unique to the Portland Trail Blazers. Consequently, I used the 1977-1991 “blaze” uniforms with the classic lowercase font as the main template for my new designs. The 1975-1977 uniforms with the vertically stitched wordmark served as a secondary template. I like to think of my designs as updated versions of classic looks—honoring the history and tradition of the franchise and its city while also correcting flaws and inconsistencies from previous versions of the uniform.

Note: Please bear in my mind that I am not a graphic designer. These designs were created using basic shapes in PowerPoint.

ASSOCIATION EDITION 

White

  • White uniform
  • Lowercase “blazers” wordmark across chest (matching font for player names and numbers)

I am a traditionalist when it comes to jersey wordmarks. I prefer the team nickname to be featured on home jerseys and the name of the city/state to be featured on road jerseys.

The Trail Blazers have had both black and red lettering on their white home uniforms in the past. I chose black lettering for the Association jerseys because black is the darkest color in the team’s color scheme, and I prefer to have as much contrast as possible between the jersey lettering and the jersey base. The team name, player name, and number are all outlined in red. Currently, the numbers on the Trail Blazers’ Association and Icon jerseys are outlined in red, but the team name and player name are not.

For the sake of consistency (and also just to add more color), I chose to outline all letters and numbers on the jersey. I also chose to use the same font for the team name, player name, and numbers. I don’t hate the current Trail Blazers font, but it’s just okay, and why use a font that’s just okay when you could use one that’s awesome? The current font is just very generic Nike font. The all-lowercase font really stands out among the other teams in the league. Plus, it has the nostalgia factor.

Note: The Trail Blazers’ classic all-lowercase font appears to be a modified version of Bauhaus 93. Bauhaus 93 was the closest font that I could find for free download, so the font on these designs is slightly different from the Trail Blazers’ official all-lowercase font.

Player names are in all lowercase (instead of all caps) to match the wordmark on the front of the jersey and to distinguish the Trail Blazers from every other team in the NBA.

  • Red and black diagonal stripes across front of jersey

The classic diagonal “blaze” is the most prominent design element of the Association jersey. To establish consistency, I chose to have a specific order for the colors featured in the “blaze.” I designated red as the team’s primary color with black as its secondary color and white as its tertiary color (black and white being more neutral).

The colors in the “blaze” go in order from top to bottom. Therefore, on the white Association jersey, the top stripe of the “blaze” is red and the bottom stripe is black. On the black Icon jersey, the top stripe remains red but the bottom stripe is white to contrast with the black base. On the red Statement jersey, the top stripe is black and the bottom stripe is white (more on this when we get to the Statement jersey). I removed the modern jerseys’ thin silver trim at the bottom of the “blaze” because the addition of silver to the Trail Blazers’ color scheme seemed like an unnecessary addition that made the jersey feel cluttered with detail.

  • Red trim on collar and armholes

For a cleaner, simpler look, I chose to use only one color for the collar and armhole trim just like the 1991-2002 jerseys. The original “blaze” jerseys had two colors for the collar/armhole trim, which was not a bad look at all, but I prefer the simpler one-color trim of the 90’s.

Note: The two-color collar/armhole trim was inconsistent in relation to the “blaze.” On the road blacks (1977-80, 1985-91), red was the top color in the “blaze” and the top/outside color on the collar/armholes, but on the home whites, red was the top color in the “blaze” but the BOTTOM/INSIDE color on the collar/armholes.

With the introduction of silver as an accent color in 2002, the collar/armholes switched to red with a thinner silver line on the bottom/inside of the trim. On the white jerseys, this silver trim is almost unnoticeable and therefore unnecessary. On the black jerseys, the resulting look is similar to the red and white trim used on jerseys from 1977-80 & 1985-91 but has less pop. I chose to remove silver elements altogether because I felt that they made the jersey design feel too busy.

Using solid one-color trim (red on the Association and Icon jerseys, black on the Statement jersey) pays tribute to the 90’s era while providing a cleaner look and avoiding an exact reproduction of the 1977-91 “blaze” uniforms.

  • Red and black vertical stripes down left side of shorts

The red and black “blaze” extends vertically down the left side of the shorts, so black is towards the front of the shorts and red is towards the back.

  • Pinwheel logo on right side of shorts

When Nike took over as the NBA’s uniform provider in 2017, the Trail Blazers’ primary uniforms remained mostly unchanged with just a few minor tweaks. One of those tweaks was moving the pinwheel logo from the front of the right leg to the side of the right leg. I actually liked this small change because, with the addition of the “ripcity” wordmark to the waistband, there is now a Blazers design element present on the front and both sides of the shorts.

  • “ripcity” wordmark on waistband

The popular “ripcity” wordmark is retained on the waistband. With the pinwheel already on display on the right side of the shorts, using a secondary logo here makes sense.

 

ICON EDITION

Black

  • Black uniform
  • Lowercase “portland” wordmark across chest (matching font for player names and numbers)

Again, I prefer to have the city/state name on road uniforms, so an all-lowercase “portland” wordmark is used for the Icon jersey. All text on the Icon jerseys is white to provide the most contrast against the black base. All text is outlined in red.

  • Red and white diagonal stripes across front of jersey
  • Red trim on collar and armholes
  • Red and white vertical stripes down left side of shorts
  • Pinwheel logo on right side of shorts
  • “ripcity” wordmark on waistband

 

STATEMENT EDITION

RED

  • Red uniform
  • Lowercase “portland” wordmark across chest
  • Black and white diagonal stripes across front of jersey

The red road uniforms worn from 1980 to 1985 featured a diagonal “blaze” with white on top and black on bottom. As previously mentioned, I have created an order for the team colors (red – primary, black – secondary, white – tertiary), so the new version of the red jersey “blaze” will have a black stripe on top and white stripe on the bottom.

  • Black trim on collar and armholes
  • Black and white vertical stripes down left side of shorts
  • Pinwheel logo on right side of shorts
  • “ripcity” wordmark on waistband

 

CITY EDITION 1 (RIP CITY)

WhiteRipCity

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 8.58.13 PM

  • White uniform
  • Lowercase “ripcity” wordmark displayed vertically

I wanted to incorporate the unique look of the 1977 championship team, and I felt that doing a Rip City version of that uniform would be a cool way to honor that team while also giving fans a uniform design they haven’t seen before. Stitching “ripcity” vertically puts a fresh spin on the Rip City alternate.

  • Black stripes with red trim down right side of uniform

I simplified the white and black stripes going down the right side of the uniform because the original version had too many lines for my taste.

  • Red collar/armhole trim
  • First and last name on back of jersey

Here’s where I got a little creative. To match the unconventional vertical wordmark on the front of the jersey, I wanted to do something different for the player name on the back. I have never seen a player’s first and last name on the back of the jersey, and I thought that putting the first name on top of the number and the last name below the number would be an interesting new look. Note: I’ve always liked the look with text above and below the number e.g. North Carolina. I also made the first name red and the last name black to sort of coordinate with the two-color “ripcity” wordmark on the front of the jersey.

  • “est. 1970” on waistband

For the sake of not repeating the “ripcity” wordmark featured on the jersey, I decided to switch it up and put “est. 1970” on the waistband in all-lowercase font. It references the era from which I am drawing inspiration for this uniform, and it is also an image that has been featured in Trail Blazers merchandise.

  • Pinwheel logo on left side of shorts

 

CITY EDITION 2 (PDX CARPET)

PDX Carpet

  • Original PDX carpet teal base
  • Lowercase “pdx” wordmark across chest
  • Sleeker triangular stripes in “blaze”

Many fans have long been clamoring for a uniform that incorporates the original design of the carpet in Portland International Airport (PDX). I used that design for the base, but I wanted to include the team colors of red and black so that it still felt like a Portland Trail Blazers uniform.

I experimented with black font with a red outline and a red and black “blaze,” but I felt the design needed some white to make it pop against the teal background. I chose to make the font white with a red outline and a black drop shadow. The white text provided greater contrast against the teal background, and the red outline and black drop shadow allowed me to include both of the team colors (same technique used on player name and number).

In order to make the “blaze” pop a little more against the PDX carpet base, I used a white outline on the red and black stripes. Also, the red and black stripes that make up the “blaze” are sleeker, more modern-looking triangular shapes similar to the “blaze” featured on the modernized red alternates which debuted in 2012-2013.

  • Red trim on collar and armholes
  • Pinwheel logo on right side of shorts
  • “ripcity” wordmark on waistband

The rest of the uniform’s design is basically identical to the Association/Icon/Statement editions. I like when crazy alternate uniforms feel like they still belong to the same set, just with a creative twist. The PDX Carpet alternates keep the red collar/armholes, the pinwheel on the right side of the shorts, and the “ripcity” wordmark on the waistband.

 

CITY EDITION 3 (PLAID RIP CITY)

Plaid

  • Black and charcoal plaid base
  • Lowercase “ripcity” wordmark across chest
  • Red and white diagonal stripes across front of jersey
  • Red trim on collar and armholes
  • Red and white vertical stripes down left side of shorts
  • Pinwheel logo on right side of shorts
  • “est. 1970” wordmark on waistband

These plaid Rip City uniforms are an alternative to the white Rip City fauxbacks with the vertical wordmark. They are the exact same as the Icon uniforms but with a plaid base and a red and white “ripcity” wordmark replacing the “portland” wordmark.

The plaid Rip City uniforms introduced in the 2017-2018 season were very popular with fans, so I wanted to include a fresh take on them in my redesign. I liked the subtle black and charcoal plaid on those uniforms, but I would suggest making the plaid pattern slightly more visible because the uniforms just looked black on television. The plaid pattern is certainly unique and is a cool way to honor Dr. Jack Ramsay.

CLASSIC EDITION (1975-77 RED THROWBACK)

Red Throwback

  • Red uniform
  • Lowercase “blazers” wordmark displayed vertically
  • Black collar/armhole trim
  • White stripes with black trim down right side of uniform
  • Pinwheel logo on left side of shorts
  • “ripcity” wordmark on waistband

The Classic uniforms are throwbacks to the 1977 championship team. They are nearly identical to the Hardwood Classics throwbacks worn by the Trail Blazers during the 2009-10 season but with a few subtle changes. The collar/armhole trim is solid black instead of black and white. The stripes down the right side of the uniform are even more simplified with one thicker white stripe outlined by thinner black trim.

 

CITY EDITION 4 (ROSE CITY)

Roses

  • Black rose print uniform

Once I completed all of my other designs, I decided to take a crack at a REALLY wild design. This “Rose City” alternate is inspired by some of the Rose City colorways on different versions of Damian Lillard’s signature shoe.

  • “Rose City” wordmark in red rose script font
  • Red rose script player name
  • Red rose font numbers
  • Interweaving thorny rose stem across front of jersey extending down left side of shorts

I followed the basic template of the normal “blaze,” but substituted the stripes with an interweaving thorny rose stem that resembles a DNA double helix and reflects the deep connection between the team and its city.

  • Rose logo on waistband
  • All-red pinwheel logo on right side of shorts

 


 

If you LOVE these, retweet, repost, share, do whatever! Feel free to tweet at the designer and writer @khamballer22 , or the content manager of this site @ThomasLovejoy

 

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