The Overwatch League created quite the coo-motion when most teams changed their Twitter profile pictures to pigeons around midnight on January 16. To confuse the community even further, all of the accounts then began to post tweets that simply read “coo”. If that wasn’t odd enough, they continued their antics by responding to each other using only pigeon gifs.
The next morning it was revealed that this small publicity stunt was to kick off the official announcement for an OWL partnership with Staple Pigeon, a New York City based streetwear brand. Fans will have to wait until January 28 to pre-order pieces from the collection, but the designer behind the brand, Jeff Staple, showed off a majority of the designs on January 24 via his Instagram. Unlike the previous, form-fitting jerseys, this collection appears to be much looser and built for maximum comfort. All models during the shoot wore a large, which helps give fans a general idea of how the items should fit different body types.
Prior to the Instagram peeks, only a handful of teams had been revealed. Now with all 20 teams side-by-side, fans can get a better idea of what the league will look like on stage this season. While some jerseys look almost identical to their previous iterations, such as the Dallas Fuel, others are shockingly different.
The biggest differences are clearly the three teams that changed up their official colors this year: Florida Mayhem, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock. The Shock had started moving away from their original bright orange last year, when they decided to make it a secondary color. However, going into the 2020 season they have dropped it completely and will be sporting a sleek silver and black design. While the Mayhem fans welcomed the colorway change from McDonald’s to Miami Vice, LA Valiant fans have been quite vocal against the switch for their team.
Aside from those obvious few though, there are several other primary color changes to the collection. Five teams will be sporting white or off-white jerseys this year, despite it only being a tertiary color. Fans were quick to point out that the Philadelphia Fusion jersey is reminiscent of their 3rd kit “referee” jerseys from last season. It makes sense why some would need to be changed, as their primary color is black and the new away jerseys are also black. However, for teams such as the Washington Justice, it seems an odd choice. It can only be speculated at this time that they did not want to be confused with the other red or blue jerseys, but instead they will be blending in with the other white kits.
As mentioned above, this season the away jerseys will be black, not white. There has been no word yet on what went behind the decision to swap the color palette. The away kits will feature the team’s city name instead of the franchise name like the home jerseys. This brings consistency to the collection that has been missing in previous seasons. Last year, teams had either their logo or full name displayed on the front of their away jerseys, with seemingly no rhyme or reason why it differed from team to team.
An important thing to note is that the New York Excelsior will be the only team to have their city name on both jerseys. This could be due to limitations on where “Excelsior” can be used. The Latin phrase, loosely translated to NYXL’s hashtag “Ever Upward”, is quite popular and has several trademarks in place. One such trademark explicitly states that the company claims the rights to it being used on clothing, however, that trademark has since lapsed. If this holds true, even with an expired trademark, it makes sense from a business standpoint to stick to a design that won’t cause issues later down the road. However, NYXL has never made an official statement regarding this specific stipulation.
One feature that sets these jerseys apart from most is the “expandable side gusset”. According to the official press release from Blizzard Entertainment, these gussets are for “adjustable comfort”. While closed they will just appear to be a colored seam, but will unzip to reveal each team’s logo.
A lot of thought was put into what materials would be used as well. One thing that both players and fans have complained about in the past has been the almost suffocating fabric choice. The press release states, “The new kits utilize elevated pin-dot mesh fabric to create lightweight and breathable jerseys to balance and regulate players’ temperature for maximum comfort.” One of the Atlanta Reign’s star DPS players, Andrej “Babybay” Francisty, was among the few players that got to model the new collection. He agrees that the jerseys are “definitely more breathable” compared to the previous ones. He also remarked that, “the old jerseys would smell if you wore them once. These won’t have that problem.”
As a little added bonus, the home jerseys will also feature the city name along the back hemline. This was something that the NYXL introduced on their third kit jerseys and that was well received by the community. Based on photos, it appears that this will only be for the short sleeve pieces and not the long sleeve ones. It is also unclear if the away jerseys will include something similar.
Previous Issues Corrected
The community made it abundantly clear throughout season 2 that they were unhappy with the quality of products from Fanatics and it seems that someone was listening. IntoTheAM handled the inaugural season jerseys that featured dye sublimation. Dye sublimation is a lengthier production process but makes for a much cleaner look and player names can also be easily added to the front shoulder.
A big gripe with the Fanatics’ jerseys were that player names were not only missing from the front of them, but were also being heat pressed onto the backs. To add insult to injury, a fair share of the lettering was crooked, peeling off, or in some cases, the wrong color. Though it has not yet been specified by which method player names will be added to this collection, it has been verified that the name will appear on the front, just above the team name.
Fans were thrilled to see that dye sublimation was back when the league announced their new third kit jerseys. The downside was that a jock tag was being added to jersey front with the size prominently displayed. For some in the community, their size was not exactly something they wanted to broadcast to the world. Subsequently, the jock tags on the new collection will only feature the OWL and STAPLE trademarks, and the team’s logo.
For fans looking for a bit of variety, the STAPLE x OWL collection has them covered from head to toe. “The full kit will include a short-sleeve jersey, long-sleeve jersey, jacket, compression sleeve, hat, and beanie for each of the league’s 20 teams”, states the press release. In promotional photos and videos, there have also been glimpses of pants as well.
Babybay says that both the short sleeve jersey and hoodie are very nice. Although he did not get to try on the long sleeve jersey, he did say that it was “dope”. He also expressed his excitement that players will be able to mix and match the pieces from the collection. This is important for players as arenas typically need to be kept quite cold due to the amount of electronics being run at once. They now have the option to layer up in style, as opposed to covering themselves in Hot Hands packets.
The previous offerings of merchandise for OWL fans has been pretty hit and miss. Many of Fanatics’ products were criticized for their poor quality, cookie-cutter designs and unimaginative concepts. As the season progressed, more items were added to the storefront, but the league forewent any big announcements regarding them. As an alternative, LA streetwear brand, ULT released a graffiti-inspired capsule collection. Their collection was much better received both aesthetically and in quality but fans still felt it was a bit pricey. Should the initial sales for the initial collection go well, fans could expect to see more pieces added sporadically throughout the season.
The STAPLE x OWL collection launches for pre-order tomorrow, January 28 but details on pricing still have not been revealed. Prices for comparative Staple Pigeon merchandise range from $42 for tees to about $72 for a hoodie. If this price point remains the same for the OWL collection, it will be on par with previous seasons. As the league is still under contract with Fanatics, they will still handle the storefront and back-end operations. But for now, fans can coo a sigh of relief that the league is making moves for a higher quality experience.
Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
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