The Toronto Raptors made it official this morning and unveiled three of the five new uniforms they’ll be sporting when the 2020-21 NBA season finally tips off.
As we had seen over the past several weeks, the new look features a chevron-heavy design, this based on the red and white “NORTH” uniform worn during the 2019 NBA Championship run. While those uniforms were worn relatively sparsely (officially they were their “Earned Edition” uniform) these new designs will be full-time going forward. They will also, fortunately, read “RAPTORS” across the front rather than “NORTH”.
“Uniforms do matter to players. Our team made the choice to wear the Earned jerseys during the 2019 Finals, for example,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in the official press release. “We want to give our players – and our fans – jerseys they’re proud to wear not just because they say Raptors on the front, not just because they’re a symbol of our city and country, but because they also look great. I think that’s what we’ve achieved with these.”
Let’s break down the new looks…
As all Association uniforms in the NBA are, it’s white. Across the front is a red chevron with “RAPTORS” inside in white with black trim. Below the chevron is the player number, red with black trim. At the waist is the team motto “WE THE NORTH” in red.
The player’s name on the back is red, the number is red with black trim, and the club’s Larry O’Brien trophy patch is above the name on the back collar.
Here’s the one we’d seen floating around the last few days. It’s red with a black chevron, “RAPTORS” inside in red with white trim. The player number below in black with white trim and the “WE THE NORTH” motto in black tucked into the shorts.
The back of the jersey has a player name in white, the player number is black with white trim.
Black with red trim around the neck and arms, no chevron across the front however the name of the team is orientated as if it were there. Lettering is red with white trim.
Throughout the base of the “Statement” jersey are sublimated jagged pinstripes. These pinstripes are a tribute to the original pinstriped Raptors uniforms worn from 1995 through 1999. Down the side of the jersey is a single red jagged pinstripe.
As is the case with all Statement Edition uniforms this year, the Nike swoosh has been replaced with the Air Jordan logo on the front.
The back of the jersey features the player’s name in white arched above a red number trimmed in white. Above the NBA logo on the back collar is the Larry O’Brien trophy patch.
And yes, we did get a brief look at the shorts that will accompany these uniforms via this group shot:
The red Icon and white Association shorts both incorporate the chevron into the right leg and place the team’s logo on the opposite side. The black Statement uniform continues the jagged pinstripes as well as the single red pinstripe and places the team’s logo at the bottom of the right leg. A maple leaf at the waistband right across the board.
The new uniforms were designed by both Nike and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment’s in-house design team collaborating together.
“As we began to think about the decade ahead, we aimed to create uniforms that not only reflected our franchise’s historic accomplishment in 2019 but also inspired the pursuit of our next championship,” MLSE Chief Marketing Officer Shannon Hosford said in the press release. “Our goal was to continue to evolve our ‘We The North’ Raptors brand identity highlighting our key chevron design, which is synonymous with the North and our championship, while also providing our fans with some added swagger while they show their support.”
You’ll note that earlier in this article I said the team only unveiled three of the five uniforms they plan on wearing in 2020-21. There’s still their “City” and “Earned” Edition (yes, “Earned” uniforms are returning) to come, and while we haven’t yet learned what these will look like, if I zoom out a bit on that group shot shown earlier, you’ll see they may have given us a little clue.
Here, check out the far left and far right:
Intentionally obscured in the shadows, but if you play around a bit with it in Photoshop, which you KNOW I did immediately, you do get a few hints of what’s to come…
While I’m not sure which is “City” and which is “Earned”, it sure looks like the uniform on the left is black with gold trim around the collar and arms with “RAPTORS” arched across the front of the jersey in black with gold trim. The uniform on the right (calm down now people) appears PURPLE and black, with RAPTORS displayed across the front in white in the chevron style.
Can’t wait to see those two!
This marks the fifth different uniform set the Raptors have used in their 26-season history (they also made a slight change to their road purples when they replaced TORONTO with RAPTORS in 2004)
You can see in the above graphic that the chevrons were first introduced in 1999, in silver worn on the side panels of the jersey. They remained as the club switched to red full-time in 2006, and were flipped upside down (to point north) when the club re-designed in 2015 before finally becoming the star of the show in 2020.
The chevrons got their big break in 2017-18 when they first graced the front of the club’s black and gold “City” uniform reading “NORTH” inside, they returned in 2018-19 again as the City with the reverse colour scheme and then again, now in red and white, as part of the “Earned Edition” set later that season.
Why were the chevrons ever introduced in the first place? We have no idea. We do know that when the club introduced their “WE THE NORTH” motto in 2015 we began to see more focus placed on the element as it suddenly been given meaning (i.e. it points to the north). Just five short years later it now dominates the design across the entire set… it’s amazing what winning a championship can do for a uniform design.
The team says the white Association and red Icon jerseys are available to purchase now, the black Statement jersey will be made available soon. While the City and Earned designs “will be unveiled closer to the start of the upcoming season”.
All new uniform photos in this post courtesy the Toronto Raptors