The Timbers Third Kit: A mixture of past and present
Editor’s Note: For the release of the unique Timbers 3rd kits, we reached out to Timbers writer and soccer historian Michael Orr. Orr is the managing writer and editor of FC Media, a contributor to English football journal Blizzard and was the lead curator for this past summer’s Oregon Historical Society exhibit, “Soccer City, USA: The Portland Timbers and the NASL Years, 1975-1981.” A self-described “kit nerd," Orr gives an exclusive look into the new Timbers third kit.
The 2011 season saw the Portland Timbers wear adidas kits for the first time since 1981 in a style unique to Major League Soccer. For 2012, adidas and the Timbers have combined to build upon their mutual local roots to introduce Portland’s third kit, a uniform inspired by the past to complement the present. Having defined their MLS appearance with the popular split-color look, the Timbers newest look reminds fans and opponents of all-white outfits reminiscent of the club’s debut kits of 1975. Adidas has taken pieces of historic Timbers uniforms and melded them into kit worthy of Soccer City, USA.
Underneath the various details that connect this new uniform to kits of the past is a level of design that reflects Timbers supporters and indeed the city of Portland itself. For the first time, adidas will manufacture all Timbers authentic kits locally.
“We’re proud to deliver the team and fans a unique piece of Timbers history with this jersey made from 100 percent recycled materials and designed and developed right here in the Rose City,” said Antonio Zea, director of Soccer for adidas America.
In addition, the Portland-made kits will be constructed entirely from recycled materials, keeping the ideals of the city and club at the fore. Any club’s kit is designed to appeal to its fan base. In this instance, Portland’s fan base appealed to adidas.
In regards to the design, notable in the new third kit is the return of a collar. Absent for most of the past three decades, a stylish green collar was included to add just the right amount of the famous green and gold. Complementing the collar are bands at the ends of the sleeves and along the hemline to keep the club’s historic color palette a significant part of the outfit.
“We created this special uniform to celebrate the City of Portland’s great soccer heritage,” said Zea.
On the chest, the Timbers introduce their first kit featuring the club’s secondary logo. With chevrons harkening to Portland’s original logo and a kit all its own, the secondary crest gives the Timbers a chance to delve deeper into the breadth of club’s design library while maintaining a tangible connection to MLS.
Adidas has taken particular care to include a jock tag and a word mark across the shoulders. In both instances, adidas has reached back to its 1981 kits and taken the Timbers’ cursive script from the chest and given them special placement on the new third shirt. Also stitched into the jock tag is a simple “Estd. 1975” mark to give further importance to the long history of the club. While much of the kit is inspired by the Timbers’ past, these special inclusions, available only on the limited edition authentic versions, are a direct link between the past and present Timbers.
Wearing kits that point to the original teams, the Timbers involved alumni ambassadors to be sure that new uniforms stayed true to the past. Likewise, shirt sponsor Alaska Airlines joined the effort to reflect their history in Portland through the new kits. Alaska Airlines has been flying to and from Portland since the 1950s and currently counts Portland as one of its hub cities. With that in mind, the prominent word mark is taken directly from the airline’s 1970s-era livery.
"With longstanding ties to the Portland community, we're thrilled to further celebrate our Timbers partnership with a jersey that harkens back to the era Alaska first started jet service in Soccer City, USA," said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing.
In honor of their debut season, the 2012 locally made third kits will be available in a special, one-of-a-kind box set. Inside, Timbers fans will find historic images of the NASL Timbers and Timber Jim, highlighting the continuity of adidas kits over time. Additionally, the set will include a unique scarf and individually numbered editions to create a package that encapsulates history, innovation and locality.