For the first time since 2017, the Phoenix Suns have officially changed up the design of their Icon and Association edition uniforms, or as us old schoolers call them, “home” and “away”. Some may think that the organization has changed their identity too many times. This new look marks the seventh time the team has changed their base uniforms since their inauguration in 1968. But when you look at the previous design set that was worn from 2017-2023, which debuted when Nike became the officially licensed uniform of the NBA, I think it’s safe to say that it was needed.
More on that in a bit.
Whenever any new set of uniforms comes out, everyone has an opinion, and it is completely subjective. There is no right, there is no wrong. There is how we perceive the design and whether or not it is pleasing or not to the eye.
Perhaps you are a traditionalist and value simplicity like the uniform sets like those of college football’s Penn State. Simple. Maybe you are more in the University of Oregon camp in which sleek design and variety is what excites you. Again, no right, no wrong, just what you perceive as acceptable for your viewing pleasure.
We here Bright Side have been hinting at the new design for a month now, contemplating what it could be, and honing in on the Easter eggs left behind by the Suns marketing team. We knew something was coming, provided insight as to what it could be based on the Summer Suns uniforms and the leaks out there on the interweb.
The wait is now over as the Phoenix Suns have officially released their new uniforms sets, doing so on X (I guess that’s what we’re calling it now):
The detective work is now over. We’ve referenced what we thought it would be, but now it’s out there. Which allows me the opportunity to give my personal subjectivity on the new design. I know, I know. You’ve been dying to hear what Voita thinks of the uniform set. As someone who dabbles in graphic design from time to time, I appreciate the work and effort that goes into creating a brand. No matter what you do, you will have critics. Accept that fact and carry the hell on.
I’ll start with three simple words: I love it.
The uniforms are sleek, align current marketing numbers and fonts (which I’m a fan of) with a period from the past that is cherished, and I believe it will look fantastic on our players. While the purple is perhaps a shade too dark for my taste – I wish they’d return to the purple of old, good ‘ole pantone 267 C – these are a clear upgrade from what we have viewed for the past 6 seasons, both home and away.
When Nike took over in 2017, they changed the Adidas version of Suns’ uniforms. Make no mistake about it, the Adidas jersey set that debuted in 2013 had its challenges. What Adidas did, however, was move in a direction away from the Steve Nash era look, and I was all for it. What the Suns wore from 2000 to 2013 was not what I would define as “pretty” or “sleek”, “good looking” or “nice”. It was...unique? Blocky? Basic? Forgettable?
When Adidas changed it up, they introduced a new wordmark font. They too attempted to pay homage to the sunburst with streaking lines across the front of the uniform. While it wasn’t a hit, but it wasn’t a miss either.
Nike took this font and did something in 2017 I’ll never understand. They shadowed the wordmark to give it a more dimensioned appearance.
It’s not something you see very often in professional sports, especially across a jersey. I believe that you should be able to read a team’s wordmark with ease, and the slightly darker orange accent on the word “Suns”, in addition to subtle gray to the word “Phoenix”, made it look off. What is the point in trying to make the word look 3-D on a 2-D jersey? The new uniform set negates that shadowing and the wordmark once again pops across the chest.
Another move I appreciate is the fact that the number on the Icon jersey is white, not orange with gray outline. It’s something you noticed (or didn’t) while watching Suns’ basketball, especially last season in which the throwback sunburst jerseys were on display. Viewing on television, the number on the front and back are much more visible when it is white against a dark color. That’s not to say that I can’t read Kevin Durant‘s number in the previous uniform sets, but with this new look it will be easier and it is something you will notice.
The back of the previous Icon edition jersey had another minor, but annoying, issue. For some reason, the names were in gray, not white. Again, a subtle change that makes a world of difference as now they are orange. The word “pop” once again enters the lexicon, as that is what they do.
I know that there will be multiple comments about the color of the basketball on the front of the jersey, and I don’t disagree. Had it been orange, which is literally one of the two primary colors of the organization, not only would’ve made sense, but it would look crisp. The organization chose to go with the white ball, perhaps in effort to make it more visible.
The wordmark being on top of the streaking sun, versus on top of it like in previous uniform sets, is a noticeable change. Given the fact that the Suns have moved away from a gradient streaking that we saw from 1992-1999 and are sticking with the sharp contrast of colors, I think this is the right move. it allows the word to be larger and more prominent rather than being confined by the sunburst itself.
The shorts are another win. When Adidas took over, the design they put on the shorts was hard to decipher. Was it the Golden Claw obtained in the dragonborn storyline on Skyrim? Was it a version of a winged sun? None of us could ever tell.
When Nike redesigned the shorts, they turned them into something that mirrored the Oregon ducks helmet, for it looked like a sun wing. It wasn’t a horrible look, but it did not flow well with the jersey. The jersey and the shorts were two completely separate styles of clothing, outside of colors that matched.
The shorts now match the jersey, displaying a streak similar to the jersey and are similar to the sunburst era with the “Phoenix” wordmark slanted on the left leg. They tie the uniform together, rather than appearing to be something completely different.
With new branding will come new apparel, and I’m all for it. The Suns have done a stellar job in the past rolling out different themes around their City and Statement edition uniforms, and this will be no different. Expect the team shop to get a fresh update of jersey-specific apparel come October.
What’s exciting about the new uniforms isn’t just the uniforms themselves. It’s the marketing that will come with it. The gear. The identity.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) July 25, 2023
Really looking forward to seeing all of the hard work the @Suns have put into these. https://t.co/KD659SuoGD
Overall, it was time for a change. It feels like 1992 again, where the expectations and excitement around this team and in the Valley are at an all-time high. Just like ‘92, the brand is changing and high priced additions to the team have been made.
Could these be the uniforms that will be forever remembered as the set that the Suns win a title while wearing them? I love it.