Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | 2 a.m.
In Today's Sun
Beyond the Sun
It wasn’t exactly the runways of Paris or Milan, but UNLV unveiled its fall line at an invitation-only event last week.
Football players Frank Summers, Casey Flair and Jacob Hales modeled the new home uniforms in a photo studio on campus.
It’s the second time head coach Mike Sanford has redesigned the Rebels’ football uniforms. He’s not fickle. The school simply dropped Russell Athletic and signed a contract that makes Nike the exclusive product supplier and sponsor of UNLV athletics.
So, the Rebels get swooshed and Nike picks up the bill. That’s right, the new uniforms won’t cost the cash-strapped university a nickel.
The new design retains the school’s traditional scarlet and gray colors, but incorporates more gray in the jerseys. The stretch mesh and Cordura jerseys are designed to be cooler in the desert heat and fit better than the previous jerseys.
So, to see how Sanford and equipment director Paul Pucciarelli did with the redesign, we put the new uniforms to the ultimate test: a “Project Runway”-style evaluation featuring members of the Sun staff. Our panel of experts included veteran sports writer Brian Hilderbrand, pop culture writer Joe Brown and police reporter Abigail Goldman. Brown and Goldman are fans of “Project Runway” and other designer reality shows; Hilderbrand has never seen one — but he has seen Rebels fashions come and go for more than 20 years.
Hilderbrand: OK, what do you think of the Rebels’ new look?
Goldman (channeling Nina Garcia): Well, first of all, I think the black socks are a big mistake; black socks are always a big mistake with shorts or anything that looks like shorts.
Brown (channeling Tim Gunn): Yes, it’s the clueless tourist look, stumbling around on the Strip with shorts and black socks.
Goldman: Shorter socks and redder socks might look better.
Brown: Orange would have been a very good choice — it’s the color for this season. Screaming, blazing orange is in, in, in for fall.
Hilderbrand: Considering they’ve won only eight games the past four years, I think color schemes and the length of their socks are the least of their concerns.
Goldman: Well, to win games, maybe you need to be a little more notable on the field. These are pretty blah uniforms — maybe you come out with some sort of Vegas style glitz and glamour and maybe you might get a little psychological advantage on the other team.
Brown: These are hard colors for anyone to wear, scarlet and gray.
Hilderbrand: Those are the school colors and the football team has been wearing them for 40 years. Mike Sanford is very big on tradition, so I don’t think it was in his power to change the school colors.
Brown: Well, if they’re stuck with that, they could play with it a little bit more and they could take it a little further. Take it into more of the metallic hues, more reflective, glossy ... maybe a candy-flake, fire engine red with chrome accents. Or brushed aluminum.
Goldman: I think it looks a little dated.
Brown: It’s the rare person who can wear scarlet and a metallic and pull it off. This costume is just not really good for anyone’s skin tone ...
Hilderbrand: Uh, it’s called a uniform, not a costume.
Goldman: There’s just no pop happening here. It’s minimal design, color blocking ... there should probably be some more black introduced to the pant to balance the black on the top, or at least balance those horrible socks and the shoes. And the gloves — the gloves are very funky and very Judy Jetson-like.
Brown: It’s like an evening glove, like a half-glove. Maybe a full-length glove would have been better.
Brown: I do want to compliment the models on their poses. They really have worked the pose with the hand on the hip, the stare, the shoulder position. They seem to have been watching “Project Runway” or “America’s Next Top Model.” For example, No. 4 is assuming the classic ballet first position: hand on hip and holding the accessory. They obviously do have some experience in modeling and they are working the garment as well as can be expected.
Goldman: There is sort of a darting that’s happening down the front chest panel that probably has to do with function, but it also has a lot to do with cut, that’s making them look a little slimmer. No. 4, he’s clearly not fitting in his shirt very well.
Hilderbrand: That’s Frank Summers. He’s a running back and running backs generally want their jerseys as tight as possible so there are fewer grab points for opponents to get hold of.
Goldman: The helmet is pretty boring. There’s a black stripe and then the word “Rebels” in this really boring, small print on the front of the uniform. You almost have to be right in his face to read it.
Brown: I can see what the designer was doing; he or she was trying to pick up the black stripe on the pant and at the shoulder cuff, but he or she didn’t give it the correct weight, so it looks like an afterthought, actually. I also wonder about the logo placement on these costumes ...
Brown: Uniforms, costumes ... can we compromise and call them outfits?
Hilderbrand: (sighs) Sure.
Goldman: We’re not considering that this is a red and a silver and then you’re going to get green grass stains on it — then you’re going to have a lot of weird colors going on. They should have planned more around the possibility of grass stains. If you had a black pant, you might be able to hide a lot of those really hard-to-get-out grass stains.
Brown: You get a much better silhouette, too, with a black pant.
Goldman: Then maybe they could introduce silver shoes — wouldn‘t that be distinguished and remarkable? That would be hot.
Hilderbrand: Silver shoes might have worked for Darrell Waltrip, but I’m not sure they would go over on the football field.
Goldman: If UNLV wants to continue to not be distinguished and not raise eyebrows, it can continue to have uniforms like this and shun silver shoes.
Brown: Silver shoes is a genius idea.
Goldman: Thank you.
Brown: These uniforms look more like practice uniforms, like boys’ playwear. I don’t think they’re good for an evening look or even for a day look. I don’t think they’re good competitively; this would not last one second on the runway.
Goldman: If you’re not going to play well, you better look good. If you’re going to win two games a season, you might as well win them in style and this, so far, is a mediocre, Pop Warner look.
Brown: If you’re not going to win, you have to give the fans something exciting. Have a tearaway component so when someone grabs it, there’s a possibility of flesh being revealed. Make it a conscious wardrobe malfunction.
Goldman: At the end of the day, if you’re going to lose on the field, you’ve got to win in the closet.
Hilderbrand: If you loved these, you’ll love the road uniforms, which are white pants and white jerseys with gray shoulders.
Brown: White pants? In the fall? Oh, my goodness. That’s a fashion no-no.
Hilderbrand: You think that’s bad? You ought to see the University of Oregon’s all-yellow number. Now that’s a fashion crime.