While some of Michael Jordan’s most memorable NBA All-Star looks featured bold colors and garish designs, the Jordan Brand decided to play it much safer with its 2018 All-Star uniforms.
There were no homages to the hot tamale jerseys that Jordan wore in 1996 or the ultra-patriotic red, white and blue looks from 1991. There weren’t any over-the-top references to the host city, like the purple cactus for Phoenix in 1995 or the supersized Fleur-de-lis for New Orleans in 2014.
Instead, Jordan Brand officially unveiled on Tuesday straightforward black and white jersey tops for this year’s All-Star Game, set for Feb. 18 at Los Angeles’s Staples Center. The uniforms represent Nike and the Jordan Brand’s first crack at the All-Star jerseys since taking over from Adidas as the NBA’s official uniform supplier last summer.
Jordan Brand said that it opted for the black and white designs because they fit with the company’s general color themes, because they believe the classic colors will have greater and longer-lasting off-court appeal for fans, and because they won’t distract from vibrant All-Star sneaker colorways.
“What are colors that we know are going to connect with consumers? Black and white are always going to connect as stylish colors,” Jordan Brand president Larry Miller told reporters during an interview at CBS Studios in LA. “We also thought that created an opportunity for the shoes to pop. The uniforms are black and white and every year the [All-Star] shoes are a little out there [color-wise]. From a fashion perspective, we just thought black and white was the right way to make our introduction. The response has been pretty good, and I think on the court it’s going to look really good.”
Because the NBA opted for a “captains” format rather than the traditional East vs. West showdown, the Jordan All-Star jerseys do not bear conference designations on the front or back. Instead, a large logo of each player’s team is front and center on the chest, underneath the Jordan Jumpman logo on the right shoulder and a Kia logo on the left shoulder.
On the back, the player’s jersey number appears in the center, below a star insignia that surrounds the NBA’s logo. The player’s last name appears in block letters below his number.
“We wanted to make sure we had a clear team concept [for fans of the team] with the logos while also making sure the jersey could be repped off the court,” Jordan designer David Creech said. “We used wearable colors from culture like black and white to expand to more fans because some colors of some [team] jerseys are tougher to wear.”
Stitched stars appear along the sides of the jerseys, although they are color-coordinated—black stars on black jerseys and white stars on white jerseys—and therefore not visible from a distance. At the bottom of the jersey’s front, the words “All-Star Edition” appear in all caps above “LA 2018.”
Except for Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets—who wear Jumpman logos on their jerseys—NBA jerseys have featured Nike’s Swoosh logo during the regular season. The company opted to place the Jumpman logo, rather than the Nike Swoosh, on the All-Star Game jersey as a special contrast for the showcase. Miller called the placement “a big, big deal for the brand” and said that the All-Star Game jerseys represent “an opportunity for Jordan to push the envelope every year.”
While Nike and Jordan have had consistent success retro-ing their most popular sneaker designs, Creech suggested that the company was unlikely to take a similar retro approach to All-Star jerseys.
“We focus on the best storytelling piece and what’s best for the consumer,” Creech said. “We care about the DNA … but at the end of the day we’re looking to the future.”