As football uniforms evolved from baggy long-sleeves to form-fitting, skin-tight compression, one thing remained constant: the jersey could still get grabbed.
“It is stretchy,” Adam Clement, Under Armour’s senior creative director for on field, tells SI.com about modern uniforms. “You can hold onto it because the fabric has so much stretch. That can start working against you. There has got to be a solve here.”
So Clement designed the first fabric made of non-stretch ripstop that still fits tight to the body. And he used reinforced concrete as the design inspiration.
The new Armourgrid fabric uses high-strength codura threads running through the uniform in a woven pattern so that the bulk of the uniform remains rigid. The side panels and shoulders contain stretch to allow the non-stretch portions to fit next to the skin.
“There is no way I can hold onto it,” Clement says, “the fabric doesn’t move off the body. I can’t get a hold.”
The proprietary construction acts as reinforced concrete, with the cordura thread reinforcing the fabric so that even small tears or rips won’t run.
You’ll see the new uniforms worn by Notre Dame, Auburn, Maryland, Utah and Cincinnati.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.