The Women's National Basketball Association is getting an on-court fashion makeover as the league begins its 11th season today.
Adidas, which obtained the WNBA uniform license when it acquired Reebok last year, is making a player-friendly design featuring jerseys that can be tucked in and have a racer-back cut.
"The reasoning in redesigning the uniform was twofold," said Christopher Arena, vice president of apparel, sporting goods and basketball partnerships for the WNBA and the NBA. "First, because we have a new partner in Adidas, and second, because it's a fresh way to kick off the WNBA's second decade and 11th season."
Adidas is the third outfitter since the inception of the league, which has grown to 13 teams from eight that play a season lasting from May through August. Champion outfitted the brand until 2002, when Reebok took over. Adidas assumed Reebok's professional basketball licenses when it bought the company, and had created new uniforms for the NBA last year, but the timing of the WNBA season delayed the women's redesign, which took almost two years.
The players' input was sought in the uniform revamp, Arena said. Their major request was for tucked-in jerseys, which is the biggest change. The silhouette is also more feminine, with thinner straps in the back that mirror the racer back of a sports bra.
The design drew on two inspirations: Native American tribes and superheroes. The tribal concept called for taking an element from each logo and repeating it throughout the uniform. For example, the Connecticut Sun uniform has an outline of a sun, and the Chicago Sky features an abstract rendering of a skyline. The superhero idea used piping to create a cape effect.
"The WNBA players are people looked up to by kids," said Jenny Lons Cohane, senior product manager for women's apparel at Adidas. "They are literally superheroes and we wanted to give them capes."
The replica jerseys wholesale for $22.50 and are available at wnba.com, the NBA store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, and the WNBA team shops. Adidas declined to project volume.
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