League/Nike, Not Thorns, To Blame For Lackluster Kits

Earlier today I posted about the new Thorns kits for the 2014 season, and about how disappointing I found them. Well, shortly after the post went out I got into a nice conversation with Thorns owner Merritt Paulson on twitter in which he shared some interesting details about this years kit options for NWSL squads.


Apparently, all NWLS teams were given the same several kit options, with the only variation being logos and colors. So, while we are all busy ripping teams for not trying on their kits, in reality they did not have much to choose from. Paulson says that if plans stay the same, in 2015 the Thorns will have fully custom kits. Even though they may lose money on them.

Another interesting tidbit is that this years Thorns kits were chosen by the players themselves. Not even the Timbers have a say in their kits, so the fact that the Women were able to try out the different options and choose the one they liked is pretty cool.

The current kits will still be a disappointment to some, but given the choices the teams likely had, and the lack of options I am willing to give them a pass here.


A source has updated me with some additional details. Apparently the catalog made available to NWSL teams was rather large. Different kit models had more design/color options than others, and the cut/fabric that the Thorns players chose had less design features available. This explains how teams like the Reign and Red Stars were able to get more unique designs, while teams like the Thorns and FCKC look so similar.

So, this wasn’t a case of the teams getting 4 or 5 options to choose from. Apparently the catalog was “big”. Another clarification, which I modified the post above to reflect, was that  next year the Thorns may be the only NWSL team with fully custom kits (due to the high order quantity and associated costs). Which throws my “league keeping teams to similar designs” argument out the window.

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  • Guest

    But how does that explain the Red Stars kits being so unique??

    • http://www.rosecitysoccerpress.com/ Anthony Thurston

      Maybe the “Hoops” design was one of the options available to teams and CRS were the only team to choose that option. They have not said how many options the teams were given.

  • Hannah

    Could the kits be better? Yes. Totally. However this is only the second year of the NWSL and in my opinion there are much more important things to worry about than kits. If this is what the players chose and are happy with, then I’m not going to complain.

    • http://www.rosecitysoccerpress.com/ Anthony Thurston

      At first I was disappointed at the lack of uniqueness, but with these additional details it seems that was not really a realistic outcome. So now that I have a better view of how things are, and given that the players chose and are happy with the current kits I am fine with them.

  • Lorehead

    Surprises me that Nike, which is right over there in Beaverton, didn’t figure the Thorns at least would sell jerseys. Maybe they didn’t want to make an exception for any one team.

    It’s still annoying that, good for them, Seattle’s kits are so much better.

    • http://www.rosecitysoccerpress.com/ Anthony Thurston

      Yeah, I think if it were up to Merritt the Thorns would have custom kits this year. I think that the league wants all the teams to be on level footing so that the richer teams (aka, PDX and HOU) don’t have these awesome custom kits out there when some of the team with not so deep pockets are running around in these base kits styles. Its annoying, but I can see why that might be the reasoning behind it.

      • Lorehead

        It’s strange, then, that the league allows the teams so much disparity in what benefits they give their players, but doesn’t let them have nice jerseys.

        • http://www.rosecitysoccerpress.com/ Anthony Thurston

          I updated the post with new information from a source. Apparently I was completely wrong, and the league is not restricting kits at all. Also, apparently the catalog of available kit designs was “big”, so maybe just bad luck that Thorns and FCKC appear to have chosen the same design?

  • Guest

    Most important of all…..how they play, not how they look.

  • treehill

    Seattle and Chicago’s designs are obviously more interesting, and I think any poll would say they’re better. So it’s strange that Portland chose possibly the most boring design possible. I can see not wanting to copy their arch-enemy (Seattle) but why not hoops?

    Kit is a tiny detail, but it does have some marketing impact. You’d hope that members of a league trying to get off the ground would at least get the easy stuff right. Low hanging fruit and all that.

    Even Houston which has the same design at least has better contrasting stripes. Black on red, black on green, green on black, or red on black would have been sharper.

  • Holden

    In case you aren’t aware of it, you can customize the kit that the Thorns, KC, and Dash picked on niketeam.nike.com. The problem is the Thorns picked an off the shelf model that you can buy anywhere (go to soccer.com for instance and search for nike women’s trophy II). The style itself has as much customization options as the Reign’s Park Derby style (which is also customizable on niketeam.nike.com): 2 colors. The difference is the Reign actually chose to use their own custom colors, rather than an off-the-shelf kit.