Jerseys. The Portland Thorns definitely have an interesting history regarding jerseys.
And this year is no exception.
Here’s a brief history of Thorns jerseys, along with some of the Stumptown crew’s reactions to #Thatkit.
Not afraid of being bold
In its first five years of existence, the Thorns had its fair share of boring kits. They were true to the Nike templates, with slight variations to the league teams’ kits except maybe for the colors. Then in 2018, the Thorns started to be a little more “edgy” with the away kit.
When the kit in the photo was leaked, woso people on Twitter freaked out. True, this wasn’t the greatest Thorns jersey but we appreciate the club and the designer’s efforts to make this unique — something you didn’t get to see with the rest of NWSL clubs back in those days.
Then 2019 came and both kits, home and away, tried to render homage to the city flag and the North End smoke. The home jersey played off the flag’s interlocking design with subtle smoke details while the away kit also played with the smoke pattern. Those kits, although not the first customized designs in the club’s history, were the most detailed in the jerseys league history until that year.
In the following season, many prayers were answered since it unveiled what many have considered the Thorns’ greatest kit so far. That’s right, we’re talking about this beauty:
“We’ve been wanting a black kit for so long,” Menges said to The Athletic back then. “I think they did it in the perfect way. Elegant, but fierce.” Emily couldn’t have said it better. Fans were begging for a black kit for years and Portland delivered it. The away jersey was also cool, with a pattern that reminded us of a fence made of thorns.
Sadly, due to Covid, the players couldn’t don them much so the club decided that the right move was to wear them the following season as well.
After two years of great designs, we hit 2022. And we know the pandemic was tough for everybody, including designers. That’s one of the few reasons I can find for the existence of these two kits.
True, almost no one was a fan of them but like it or not, the home kit will be forever in the Thorns' history because they got their third star wearing it. And like it or not, the team will wear it for the 2023 campaign.
The wildest kit in the history of the NWSL?
In an NWSL world full of boring jerseys, Portland decided to go to infinity and beyond. They’re pioneers — they have always been. And when it comes to jerseys, they’ve been hitting the right notes for some years now.
So as soon as the 2023 away kit was leaked, woso people on Twitter voiced their opinions. Jokes were said, feelings were hurt, arguments started, tears were cried, some were in denial... But despite the negative reactions from most people, the players already loved the jersey.
Some may say it’s outrageous, others may think the kit is way much, and then you will find the group that loves it. The thing is, when it comes to kits, there’s no way to agree on them.
But what does the Stumptown Footy team think about it?
Well, here is what one of our writers, Phuoc Nguyen, thinks about it: “The shorts and socks are elite, and the detail is absolutely amazing. They really went for it with the design, and I have major respect for that. I love the fact that a lot of other teams have played it safe, but Portland did not. They continue to grow on me, but still think it’s too busy. The players are going to be crushing it on game days in these kits though!”
Wilder Isom, another of our writers, shared: “Honestly, I love it. I think the NWSL is finally going with really interesting designs for kits and the Thorns fully leaned into that. From Gotham FC’s electric stripes to the Orlando Pride changing their white shorts to be more accommodating to menstruating people this season feels fresh and new. The Thorns' design perfectly embodies the city that it represents: a little weird and kinda cool. The Timbers also reflected this with their flannel design (if not a far safer choice). I think from the pictures we’ve gotten so far, they look far better on a person than they did in that leaked photo. Overall, I would probably buy one…”
Legendary can be bizarre
For some years now clubs around the world have been walking on a thin line between trying to offer something new to the fans and respecting the team’s identity. One of the unspoken rules of Jersey Design 101 says that you cannot mess much with the home kits so the away kits are made to be innovative, and at the same time be believable.
It’s just a jersey we are having fun with it though— kel (@kellihubly) March 15, 2023
And that’s exactly what they did in this case. They’ve gotten inspired by the club’s history and therefore put the original crest with the original colors in the middle of the jersey, they used the club slogan (“Rose City Till I Die”), and included the year of the foundation of the club with Roman numerals.
They respected the team’s history and at the same time created a jersey so innovative that is already the talk of the league. And in years from now, we won’t remember the plain black, white, or blue shirts that abound in this league, but this kit? Oh, we will remember it for ages to come.
We know you have an opinion — do you want to share your opinion with us? Leave it in the comments section!