To celebrate the WNBA’s 25th anniversary season, Nike has unveiled their new collection on Thursday, which includes three new game uniforms editions for each team: ‘Heroine Edition’ home jerseys, ‘Explorer Edition’ away jerseys, and the newest addition, Rebel Edition. Teams, which includes players, staff, and coaches, will also reportedly get a ‘Game Theatre Set’ that includes more than 50 apparel pieces.
Each jersey is designed in an array of bright and bold colorways that reflect the story of each city and community, specifically “through the muse of female archetypes in storytelling and film.”
The WNBA Nike Explorer Edition reflects the “creative margins of team identity” while the WNBA Nike Rebel Edition jerseys represent themes of female empowerment from that team’s cities and communities.
And marking the return of the white uniform for the first time since 2015, the WNBA Nike Heroine Edition jerseys symbolize “strength and empowerment.”
We Play Our Way.
One of three new game uniforms for each team, the new WNBA Nike Rebel Edition Jerseys applaud the irreverent voices who define each team’s home city and state.
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) April 8, 2021
“It’s the white for me. The white jerseys are COLD,” Las Vegas Aces power forward and MVP A’ja Wilson tells WSLAM about her favorite jersey edition out of the three. “I cannot wait to wear my leg sleeve with it, it’s going to be dope. But we’re going to wear our black jerseys when we play y’all [ Wilson says to Shields] so y’all won’t get to.”
“Wow,” replies Chicago Sky All-Star guard Diamond DeShields, who is on the same call. “That’s corny.”
“Aye, you got eleven other teams so, you can wear them for those [games],” Wilson says back to her with a laugh.
“Anyways, my favorite that we have is the Explorer edition, the all-black,” DeShields continues. “I think we have the dopest black jerseys in the League and I said it in my video: when we wear those jerseys, it’s a dub. So, you better hope we don’t wear them against y’all.”
Numbers will also return to the front of game jerseys.
“Man, I was so hyped,” Wilson says when she first saw the numbers on the front. “When they took them away, it was literally just heartbreaking because it’s like, Dang, how am I supposed to know that’s my jersey you reppin’? It was so sad.
I was just really excited to see the 22 on the front, it really means a lot. You work so hard for that and got to rep it and see it at all times. I love it, that’s the best element.”
Another addition is the number 1/144, which is stitched onto the front tag to honor every active player in the WNBA and their accomplishments.
“I’m all about details,” DeShields says. “It’s something that we’ve talked about, and you’ve heard other players talk about, but being a part of the WNBA is really something special and it’s a very hard job to get, so for Nike to take the extra time to put that on the uniforms is really dope.”
As far as the entire uniform, Nike specifically designed the collection based on “re-fined insights” directly from the players themselves about the fit, design, and style of the uniforms. The newest collection will feature new proportions, as well as the debut of Nike DRI-FIT ADV technology—which is to “enable more freedom of movement and comfort”.
“During our second year in the League, Nike came through and we had this big sit down where they asked us a bunch of different questions about the uniform,” says DeShields. “I know in our meeting we were really vocal about wanting to have uniforms throughout the League that was different. Everyone was on the same template with different sponsors and only changed colors, and we didn’t like that at all. We talked about, graphically, how we wanted to have a city edition—kind of like how the NBA has—and we wanted variation.”
“I really like the neckline of it,” says Wilson, who typically tucks and rolls the upper neckline of her jersey during games. “It’s not so-crispy of a V-Neck but ours has a little swiggle to it, it looks very nice. I like to tuck [my jersey], but when it tucks it tugs a little bit, but now it’s a nice, wavy neckline and I can really appreciate that.”
Both Wilson and DeShields feel that the arrival of a new collection of uniforms is not only timely but important. It marks a moment of growth, and a new-look, for the WNBA.
“It’s a sign of growth and a sign that our league is growing year by year,” says Wilson. “Seeing the growth within the years that we’ve been in the league, we’re still young and new in the league but just seeing the growth of the matter and the soon to be four years, it’s truly refreshing to know that your voice is being heard and that you can now be seen and look good when you’re out there playing in a uniform that’s fit to you. To finally have this is big-time growth for the W.”
“It’s a quarter-century,” adds DeShields. “What better time to switch up the flow a little bit than now? It’s a quarter century, we 25 [years old]—”
“It’s time to live it up!” chimes in Wilson.
“The timing could not have been more perfect, to be honest,” DeShields adds. “If you want to roll something out and do something dope, and to have it fall on the 25th anniversary with something like the WNBA, in a year like now. To me the timing is perfect and you’ve got great, impactful, and inspirational people that are representing you, like A’ja, and I just think that we were right for the picking and it was time for all that. It’s really dope.”
When thinking about what the jerseys could look like in the next 25 years, both of them admit that they’ll be a little jealous:
“Imma be hating,” admits DeShields with a grin. “I ain’t gonna lie.”
“I’m coming back and taking everything,” Wilson jokes. “All seven of those jerseys. It’ll be like, back in our days we had three jerseys, without our Rebel Edition, there would be no additions.”