It’s back! Awoken from its seven-year hibernation, the Orange alternate uniform has returned with a vengeance.
On Friday, June 15 the Bears released their orange uniform to the public. It was given a soft-release via the Bears app the night before, but hey, what is today’s social media world without a uniform leak.
You might read stories that go into the history of the legendary orange uniform, like how the Bears went 4-2 in the last stint they were in use, how the team’s original colors were orange and white, or even how dominant the Bears were in the 30’s and 40’s with orange as an alternate.
But I would like to give a more detailed review of the jersey from a designer’s (and life-long Bears Fan’s) perspective.
You may be comparing this jersey to the last time they wore these (2005-2009, 2011) and think “these don’t look so bad after all.” You’re right, and there are a couple things I would like to direct your attention to as to why.
The old orange jersey had some drawbacks …
First off, Nike Inc. struck a deal with the NFL in 2012 to become its official outfitter and they cleaned up the Bears’ uniform template with Reebok being the previous outfitter. On Reebok’s uniforms, the numbers and stripes were on the side shoulder panel. This created a congested area, and Nike cleaned it up.
Different sleeve lengths were more gracious than others, but nonetheless, it was busy with both items in the same space.
If you look close enough on the Reebok sleeve detail, you will notice that the bottom stripe is actually the sleeve band.
Not good! Nike took the shoulder numbers (TV numbers) and put them on the top panel of the shoulder sleeve. This gave the TV numbers their room to breathe and allowed space for the historic GSH stripes.
Second, Nike has more advanced uniform templates and materials than years’ past. The jersey cuts and modifications were a vast improvement from the Reebok version.
Here is my breakdown of the 2018 orange alternate uniform.
The numeral style is the same as the standard Home/Away sets with one exception, the stiching. The white numerals have navy stitching, which is a new combination not seen on the other sets (white/orange on navy jersey and navy/orange on white jersey).
The shoulder stripes are navy with white trim, with opposite application to the GSH on the left shoulder. The combination of these makes sense. Not only does it make the numbers pop, but it is reminiscent of the mid-2000’s jersey.
The standard home pants, white with navy and orange stripes, will be used in this uniform. Solid choice, good combination. The socks will remain the same, navy base with three orange/white stripes. The model, Mitchell Trubisky, has the low-rise sock look, but keep in mind sock height varies player to player.
Cleats will have to remain team primary/secondary colors, black or white per the NFL rules. Players are fined for wearing unauthorized uniform material. An example of this was when Brandon Marshall wore lime green cleats during a game against the New York Giants in 2013 and was fined $10,500. He wore those cleats to raise mental health awareness.
The league has since lightened its policies and even allowed a week in the season to lift this rule for players who wanted to promote their favorite cause and raise awareness.
Lastly, the helmet. From what I can tell, the Bears will rock their standard helmet which is a navy shell and facemask combo plus decals. That is how they handled it seven years ago. This is an alternate uniform, not a throwback, so the standard helmet is a good move.
For safety, the NFL has implemented a one shell rule to restrict teams to one helmet. With this rule, the most a team can do is swap out decals and/or facemasks. This leaves the Bears with their navy shell without a chance to entertain an orange helmet.
This offseason we have heard rumbles of a high-powered and fast offense. Just like the new-look offense, this jersey is blazing. I can’t wait to see it on the field against Miami and Minnesota.
My own take
As a graphic designer, I jumped at the opportunity to put my own spin on an orange alternate uniform prior to the release. Check it out below!