2014 Olympic Jerseys: The Women’s Teams
Of all the countries that will be playing hockey over the next couple weeks at the Sochi Olympics, there’s two countries that qualified for the women’s tournament that didn’t qualify for the men’s tournament: Germany and Japan. The other countries in the women’s tournament (Canada, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States) will all, of course, be wearing the same jerseys as their male counterparts, so there’s no need to go over them again. And while there’s a 99% chance that the gold medal game will be between Canada and the US, we don’t want to forget about the countries and athletes that worked their ass off to get here in the first place, and the designers that gave them something to wear.
The German jerseys are a great example of the Nike template actually working well with the country’s colours and flag. The use of the black shoulders and red stripe and gold jerseys mimics Germany’s flag and, because it’s not a white jersey, will actually stand out quite well on the ice. That being said, Nike’s general template for the Olympic jerseys weren’t that great to begin with, so the jerseys are, like some of the others, very stoic without much movement to them, but out of all the countries that followed this sort of aesthetic, the Germans have used it the best. But with those colours, I can’t help but think they could have really used a V (for Victory, maybe) across the chest of the jersey.
It also works well because there’s no white on it, so the relative simplicity of the jersey isn’t accentuated as much because all of it is colourful. A minor thing, but it makes a big difference.
Having the black jerseys as an upside-down version of the flag is just logical for a dark-coloured jersey, even if it is somewhat unpatriotic for those who get riled up about these sorts of things. Which we don’t, because this isn’t actually a flag. It’s a jersey. Duh. So we like it.
The front on the jerseys feature, like many of the other countries in tournament, the official crest of the country. It’s simple, mimics the colours of the flag exactly and, although the black eagle design isn’t quite as bad-ass as Austria’s, it’s effective and stands out on both the gold and black jerseys.
There’s something glossy on the shoulders (especially noticeable on the gold jersey) but there doesn’t seem to be any information out there as to what it actually is. Whatever’s there takes up a fair amount of real estate on the shoulder yokes, so it’s more of a dominant feature on the jersey instead of something more subtle, which usually makes it less successful of a design for these Olympic jerseys. So, it’s probably a thumbs down on this element.
But otherwise, it’s a strong jersey. And it’s unfortunate that we won’t get to see more of it in the tournament.
The Japanese women will be wearing jerseys that more resemble American collegiate sports jerseys of some sort rather than anything overtly Japanese, which is a strange choice. For one, shouldn’t the ‘Japan’ be in Japanese characters? It might make sense to have it in English if the Olympics were taking place in an English-speaking country. But as it’s Russia, shouldn’t they have put ‘Япония’ (thanks Google Translate!) on the jersey? Will any Japanese ice hockey games even be televised in Canada or America? It’s an odd choice, and seeing how it’s the main feature of the jersey, it’s even more odd.
That being said, Japan isn’t the only one, and it’s something that wasn’t mentioned in the last post about the Austrian jerseys, which also use English. But at least they’ll probably get games televised in North America.
The other most noticeable aspect of these jerseys is the absolute onslaught of glossy elements added to the shoulder that descend halfway down the sleeves. They are, apparently, heads of dragons (on the shoulder) and dragon scales (on the sleeves). Nothing wrong with that as a theme for these glossy elements per se, but they just take up so much room on the jersey that whole point of having subtle glossy elements is lost. All that wonderful subtlety is lost.
What’s worse is that the dragon head is separated from the scales pattern to allow for the area on the shoulders where the numbers will go, so it makes even less sense. If they would have picked one or the other (heads or scales?), it might have worked better.
The part of the jersey that I do like is minimalist striping along the bottom of the jerseys. It’s a nice splash of contrast and colour to two jerseys that are otherwise nothing else but black and white. They absolutely need to be there.
Adding just a simple flag patch on the sleeve is completely unimaginative. You can buy one for $2 online and it feels like something a young Japanese traveler would slap on their coat or backpack when visiting another part of the world. Yawn. Not saying that’s a bad thing at all, but for an Olympic hockey jersey, it’s lazy and a missed opportunity.
So there’s not a whole bunch of like about the Japanese jerseys. They’re a mixture of over-killing subtle elements, and over-subtling what should have been more prominent.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!