By Sam Perley
Coming on the heels of landing the third overall pick in the NBA Draft, excitement for the 2020-21 season continues to buzz louder in Charlotte with the unveiling of the team’s updated Icon (teal) and Association (white) uniforms.
This is the first time the organization has had the ability to change these two particular uniforms since the Hornets name returned back in 2014. While the Classic jerseys are currently now out of the on-court rotation, multiple elements of them have been incorporated into these newer versions.
“We saw an opportunity to take another step forward and really get closer to that original Hornet uniform and its classy, iconic state,” said Seth Bennett, the Hornets’ Senior VP of Consumer Engagement. “It was great to have the version we’ve worn for that five-year period, but we can take another step in reconnecting a little closer to some of the design elements we enjoyed in the original uniforms.”
“I refer to it as a wearable anthology of sorts,” said Kris Bazen, Senior Director of Creative Services with the Hornets. “You see the fingerprints of all the previous generations of Hornets uniforms. I really think the inspiration was to distill this uniform down to the core elements of what the Hornets brand is about. In addition, it was inspired by basketball spirit and tradition in the Carolinas. This is really a homage to that in a lot of ways.”
He added, “There’s the return of the double pinstripes which were established in 1997 and also the return of Charlotte to the front chest [of the Association uniform]. There are now black outlines on the numbers and wordmarks of the uniform, where as previously, we only had it on the wordmark on the chest. There’s now the C-Cell on the Icon and H-Cell on Association on the buckle (waistband), which are brand new elements.”
“I think we struck the right balance,” Bennett stated. “Certainly, the double pinstripe was extremely popular in the uniforms that ran from 1997 to the early 2000’s. I think that’s the base. We wanted to have a streamlined, clean design and what that allows us to do is sustain the test of time. There’s a chance that this uniform may not be refreshed in five years. I really like the characteristics and the way we modernized it. It’s not clunky or heavy, but light and modern.”
The process of changing uniforms isn’t something that happens overnight either – it generally takes around two years in advance before an official release can take place. Much of the credit goes to the hard work and continued collaboration between the Hornets, Nike, Jordan Brand and Rare Designs.
“There’s a lot of great communication and conversation,” explained Bazen. “I appreciate everyone’s flexibility and commitment throughout this process as these uniforms are now seeing the light of day. What we’re seeing is the result of roughly two years of everyone’s hard work and effort. I’m extremely proud to be a part of the team that brought this project to life.”
And today, Hornets fans will get their first official look at the revamped attire, which should hopefully be available for retail purchase sometime in the near future.
“The response thus far has been great,” Bennett stated. “We were committed to making sure that we managed the brand identity of the Hornets in a thoughtful way when he decided to rebrand. We’re still committed to that. We did a lot of sampling and getting feedback from fans on social posts. I think fans will appreciate the process that we’ve gone through and their reaction to the actual designs.”