The Long And Short Of It: Colts' Truncated Stripes

In the world of Pro pigskin aesthetics, one of the topics that always creates a debate is the modern application of the Colts’ (and LSU, Iowa State, NY Jets, etc) jersey stripes. The controversy is how they should look on modern football jerseys, with one side claiming they are too short and should extend down to the armpit, the other side saying the current solution is the best. The claim that they “should wrap all the way around the arm like they were designed to do” is a non-starter because they didn’t even do that.

The issue is this is a design solution from the 1950s intended for a completely different problem. It’s an example of how form should follow function, and how good graphic design enhances the product. Jersey design has progressed over time, and they’ve gotten smaller, with shorter sleeves. This graphic has tried to come along with it, but at this point is just a shoe-horned element that dosent truly fit on a modern jersey template the way it was meant to do.

What jersey manufacturers have done is truncated the stripe at about the point of the collar on the front and the bottom of the nameplate on back. This solution has created a passable design using good judgment of alignment and space. That is until Nike really fucked it up in 2012, making the total width of the stripes much narrower than before, and pushing the stripes to the sleeve seam, where the smaller sleeves put the stripes on an angle, as much as 45 degrees on some players with no shoulder/sleeve tailoring to correct it.

Nike has taken a shot at lengthening the stripe design with LSU and trying to return it to it’s original integrity. They had to use a narrower number font when doing this, which in the end is fine, I think the number font is quite good. But because the jerseys are so small/tight now, it really starts to crowd the other elements. It’s a push for me from the previous solutions because it’s still a shoe-horned design that never had these modern uniforms in mind. Between the Reebok Colt’s solution and the Nike LSU one, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I would go with Reebok’s as I feel it’s a better use of space.

Another issue is if you’re going to maintain your 50 year old design, you need this stripe. It’s always going to be botched, but a botched stripe is better than no stripe. It’s a huge part of the Colts identity. Those suggesting the uniforms be compromised to suit the jersey decoration have it completely backwards. Again, form follow function, you design graphics for the product, not the other way around. But, form also follows emotion, and there is so much recognition with the stripe for the Colts, they just wouldn’t be the Colts without it.  The other option is to blow it all up and start over with something completely different, something that actually works well with current uniforms, like Oklahoma State’s design. But blowing up a 50 year old identity that comes with multiple championships and lots of success for a current brand doing extremely well, isn’t a move that is necessary.

If it were up to me to design the perfect Colts uniform, it would be this. see the whole thing here: Colts Brand Adjustment