Devil in the Details

Now that the earth's spun around on its axis twice since the uniform reveal on Wednesday, we take a look at what makes -- and breaks -- the new Cal football uniforms in close detail.


Now that we've had the chance to sleep on the new California athletics brand identity, it's time to o back to that fancy NIKE publicity folder and pick apart the new football uniforms in greater detail.

An extension of our previous ‘Devil in the Details' segment of our Cal Uni Countdown leading up to the unveiling, we look at the little things that make -- and break -- this new look.

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Cap Sleeves

These uniforms are the first time that the Bears have worn contrast sleeves in the history of the program, so that's a point for innovation. But, this seems like innovation for innovation's sake. I would rather have seen the sublimated bear logo on each color (darker yellow on jersey yellow, slightly gray on white, darker gray on gray), like NIKE did with the home blues. The contrast with the sleeve border and the collar is enough to get the point across.

In the final estimation, I always go with a very simple test: Is it good, or is it stupid? This feels stupid to me. If the stretch sleeve border wasn't enough, NIKE could always have gone to using undersleeves, which is what I had thought they would do when I made my uni prediction, at least for the whites. The all-whites would have looked much cleaner, in my opinion, had they gone with blue undersleeves. What this uniform runs the risk of, is making players look like they're wearing a tank top. It's also been done before. What the point of the watermarked bear seemed to have been was to add a subtle detail that, when viewed up close or in high definition, would make you go, ‘Huh, that's kind of neat.' The statement that the contrast sleeves make is more ‘Look at me!' And nobody likes that guy.

The derivative nature of the feature, and the fact that the sublimation of the new logo could have been done so much better on the other-than-blue tops, put this firmly into the stupid category.



New Blue

Classic Yale blue -- the shade that has long been the official color of the university -- has been unevenly applied to different fabrics and Cal athletic apparel over the years, and often completely disregarded. Sometimes, under the right lighting, attempts at using the correct blue have turned out to look more purple.

The most classic shade the Bears have used across the years has tended to be almost black, and while the standardized blue established by the new branding effort falls just short of being that dark, when applied to uniforms, it certainly is richer and more defined. Since the Swoosh is going to be providing all uniforms and athletic performance gear, one would have to think that they will keep in mind that different fabrics take color in different ways and can look different depending on lighting.

The only thing that keeps the new color scheme revamp from passing with flying colors is the addition of gray (Pantone PMS 429C to be exact). Though the gray is not used on top of blue, gold or white, the temptation to use it as an accent in the future may prove too great, and when a school or team starts going too far afield of what its original color scheme is (much less officially adding an en vogue color), the fashion train veers off the good tracks and right onto the rickety rails of stupid.

Lastly, I'd have liked to see a more metallic or at least flecked gold look, with a paler tone than what Big Bird Tagaloa is wearing here.



The ‘Bro'

I'm all for contrast colors on the neck yoke and sleeves, but at least go all the way. The collar-us interuptus just looks like someone forgot to finish coloring in the final drawing and when the design team saw it, they shrugged and said, "OK, good enough. Let's go with it."

As some Oregon State fans have mentioned, their Beavers suited up in jerseys that looked like they had built-in sports bras (sadly, it was not taken to its logical conclusion), and the collar conundrum here makes it look like Cal is wearing a dress that's strapless with a bra that isn't. Hey, I'm all for sports bras, but not on dudes. Especially on bigger fellas that might very well actually be in need of one of these. Plus, once you start playing with the collar, where do you stop?

I see what the design is trying to do. It's trying to mimic claws, since the portion of the collar that comes around the back of the neck and stops just inside the shoulders kind of evokes the last uniform's bear claw look, but it's just not sharp or curved enough to really hammer that imagery home. This just feels like a holdover from the previous set, and since we can clearly see that the bra straps are of a different fabric in the uniform construction, it also feels lazy. Why not add panels to those parts to make a solid collar, or just leave well enough alone?

Looks like a bumper sticker, smells like a bumper sticker, sounds like a bumper sticker. The sad thing is, were it not for those two little notches, this would be a solid addition, no pun intended, and that's why I'm giving it the low grade; It's so close to good, but it fell off the cliff and right onto the pointy rocks of stupid.


Stay tuned over the weekend for the second part of the Devil in the Details uniform nit-pickery, as we grade out other pieces of the new branding effort.

Missed our exclusive Cal Uni Countdown? Take a look at what Cal Sports Digest thinks are the best and worst uniforms in Cal football history with our 10-part feature!

Cal Uni Countdown: Polar Bear Checks in at No. 10
Cal Uni Countdown: Far From Cloud Nine
Cal Uni Countdown: The Ocho
Cal Uni Countdown: Lucky Number Seven
Cal Uni Countdown: Gold Reserves Check in at No. 6
Cal Uni Countdown: High Five
Cal Uni Countdown: Four on the Floor
Cal Uni Countdown: Three and the Tree
Cal Uni Countdown: Just Jackie
Cal Uni Countdown: The Golden Rule Top Stories