NFL merchandise receives a new look thanks to collaboration with FIT
Earlier this year it was announced that Team Quicksnap, a group of four students from the Fashion Institute of Technology, won the NFL x FIT Merchandising Design Contest. The contest included six teams of students tasked with developing new designs for all 32 of the National Football League’s teams. At New York City’s Museum of Arts and Design Tuesday night, a launch event revealed Team Quicksnap’s winning graphic elements on various merchandise and featured a panel that discussed the unique collaboration.
The new products on display featured tops, hats, bags, and more with the new FIT designed look and are meant to appeal to what was referred to as the next generation of fans. The students who make up Team Quicksnap are Iwona Usakiewicz, Eun Su Yoo, Wing-Sze Ho, and Arpi Dayian. When describing their work in the contest, the team states that their “shape analysis resulted in organic patterns that amplify the visual dynamics embedded within the original NFL logo designs. The most important visual elements within each logo were uncovered through an experimental process of deconstruction and reconstruction of lines and shapes.” They describe the final graphics as “bold, expressive, and original.” Their designs filled one wall at the event, showing them next to the original logos so it was clear how the original logo colors and shapes were reinterpreted while keeping certain essential elements.
The students discussed their work on a panel that included FIT professors CJ Yeh and Christina Shin, FIT alum and the vice president of Consumer Products for the NFL Rhiannon Madden, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, and the NFL Network’s Kay Adams. Madden explained on the panel that the contest’s goal “was to give creative freedom to FIT’s talented students to express how they would reimagine visual interpretations that represent all 32 NFL teams’ identities.”
“Millennials are an important audience for the NFL, and we want our products to resonate and be relatable to them – and there’s no better way to do that than by engaging FIT students to create fresh designs,” she said.
According to Madden, they showed the graphics to their licensees who then proposed what they would do with the designs on products.
“We chose the most compelling of those products and the licensees created from there. As you can see from the graphics, they’re so versatile so they work very well across all product lines whether it’s apparel, hardlines, [or] home goods,” she said.
When asked on the panel about what’s happening in fashion beyond the NFL line, Rowley mentioned how she loves fashion’s current inclusiveness and eccentricity. She tied it to the event by pointing out how you can mix one of the NFL’s jerseys for example with a beautiful skirt.
“I think there are no rules anymore in fashion and so it’s exciting to mix everything,” she said.
In a GeekFold interview after the panel, Rowley explained that sports teams and logos are “ripe for reinvention” in a way that looks fresh but doesn’t throw out the whole thing and its legacy. She believes the students succeeded in doing that with these designs.
“Usually when someone wants to reinvent a logo or a team thing they change it and, especially if they want to make it for women, they just do the exact same thing but make it pink,” she said. “I think they took the logo and completely redesigned it in a way that it’s still recognizable, but it’s really great design.”
The distinctive graphics are certainly creative and colorful, and are fun abstract interpretations of the familiar logos and looks for each team. Their design is reminiscent of how other designers have combined fashion and licensed inspiration by using subtle designs that focus on shapes and colors that will be recognizable to fans and just fashionable to anyone else. When asked if she thinks we might see more subtle interpretations when it comes to licensing, like what we saw with Rag & Bone’s Star Wars line for example, Rowley was cautious, but optimistic about the future. Sometimes brands and manufacturers can be lazy, she acknowledged, but, in today’s age, you can’t do that and stand out.
“There’s too much product out there to be able to just say I’m going to slap a logo on something and that’s why I think it’s really admirable that the NFL is like ‘reimagine our whole world and we’re going to make it.’ I think it’s really going out on a limb for them. It’s a bold move and it’s going to be really good for them,” she told GeekFold.
According to Rowley, licensing can offer the opportunity for designers to extend their vision and can be the ultimate partnership if you can influence the design and functionality of something. Licensing has been really important for her business in different ways, including in how it has allowed her to make things she never would have been able to make otherwise. For example, she said she wouldn’t be making her own wetsuits right now if she hadn’t first started making them through a license with Quicksilver.
As for if this contest might inspire other sports leagues to think outside the box when it comes to their own designs, Rowley said she hopes it will.
“I think this is good to get out there and I think the NFL deserves all the credit right now, but I think inevitably it will make people reimagine,” she said.
The NFLxFIT collection is available at the NFL Shop and will also arrive in Target stores this spring. (Disclosure: This NFL Shop link is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission.)