The History of the
Wildcat Uniform
Page Four: Under Armour Era Begins

 




2012 - 2015 (Purple)


2012 - 2015 (White)

 
"FOR THE PRIDE STRIPED ACROSS YOUR CHEST"

Northwestern became Under Armour's first Big Ten school in 2012, and the new Under Armour uniforms were a carefully planned mixture of tradition and modern design.  The result: a fantastic team identity that is progressive, yet retro, and uniquely Northwestern.

All Northwestern athletic teams have a consistent style, with each sport having unique elements.  "19 sports; one team."  UA's approach to the uniform design is "500 / 50 / 5": there are aspects to the uniforms identifiable at 500 feet, 50 feet, and details recognizable only close-up (five feet). 

The design team seems to have taken a lot from campus architecture, particularly from Deering Library.  Gothic arches play into the new design, as does neo-gothic stonework.  There was mention of ivy patterns  and the modified old-English script on NU's building signs, but those have not yet made their appearance [Update: these items were eventually featured in the 2014 Northwestern Gothic uniform]

JERSEY: The 2012 home jersey was purple, as it had been since 2003.  However, Under Armour changed the shade of purple and, in a titanic improvement, made sure that the purple jersey matched the purple helmet, even when seen on TV (has that ever before been the case?)  Among the jersey details:
  • The Northwestern stripe was the dominant feature, appearing across the chest and back of the jerseys.  The chest stripe is reminiscent of the 1909 NU jersey design, a look Northwestern pioneered.  Under Armour and NU's 2012 offseason slogan, "reclaim the stripe!" was manifest in the new uniforms.  The Northwestern stripe became the team identifier, even making its debut in the field end zone design in 2012.
  • Initially, there were sleeve stripes-- not on the jersey itself, but on the base layer (the compression shirt). However, by 2014 the compression shirts did not typically include sleeve stripes.
  • The Northwestern stripes on the chest and back were a single color, the first time NU used single-color Northwestern stripes since 1977.  The stripe was all purple on the white jerseys and (for the first time ever) all black on the purple jersey.
  • For the first time ever, NU's uniforms had a word ("NORTHWESTERN") across the chest of the jersey.  The font, by the way, appears to be Morgan Poster Avec.
  • The jerseys, for the first time since 1994, had shoulder, or TV, numbers.
  • The numbers and the "NORTHWESTERN" logo were sewn on.  For the purple jerseys, the numbers were white with a black outline.  For the white jerseys, the numbers were black, with a white outline (except for the shoulder numbers, which were purple, with a black outline). 
  • The numbers were patterned, or embellished, with a subtle gray brickwork design, similar to the campus building brickwork. The pattern was very faint, and could only be seen close up, in person, or with very high-res photos. It could not be seen on TV or in videos.
  • There was no N-Cat logo on the uniform.  Northwestern retired the N-Cat image after 30 years of use.
  • All Big Ten teams were required to wear the "B1G" logo on their jerseys.


HELMET: No major changes to NU's classic helmet.  NU wore the "B1G" logo on the front plate of the helmet only for the 2012 opener at Syracuse.  After that, NU wore "W.I.N." on the front plate (the exoteric meaning of which is "What's Important Now"). Coach Fitzgerald continued to use the 'Cat head sticker system  to represent the number of wins during the season.

A large series of alternate helmets joined NU's standard helmet. The alternates are described below.


PANTS: Northwestern used white,  black, or-- less frequently-- purple pants. There was no longer any distinction for home vs. road games.

The pants had no striping and had a small Northwestern N logo on the left hip.  They also had the word "WILDCATS" on the back waist.

Keeping with tradition, socks and shoes were black (though the shoes now have purple cleats). In 2014 the 'Cats introduced white shoes and white socks (with purple northwestern striping) for some games, and in 2015 the 'Cats added purple shoes as well.

Here are the many different unform combinations in 2012-2015. See the bottom of the page for the description of the alternate uniform components.

2012 Game Helmet Jersey
Pants
Syracuse - Away Standard Purple
White White
Vanderbilt - Home
Alt. Purple, Flag N Purple Black
Boston College - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
S. Dakota - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
Indiana - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
Penn St. - Away
Standard Purple White White
Minnesota - Away
Standard Purple White Black
Nebraska - Home
Alt. Black, 'Cat Head Alt. Black
Black
Iowa - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
Michigan - Away
Standard Purple White White
Mich. State - Away
Standard Purple White Black
Illinois - Home
Alt. Black, 'Cat Head Alt. Black     
Purple     
Miss. St. - Gator  Bowl
Alt. Black, Black N Purple Black
 
 
2013 Game Helmet Jersey
Pants
Cal - Away Alt. White, Purple N
White    
White    
Syracuse - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
W. Mich. - Home
Alt. Purple, Flag N Purple Black
Maine - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
Ohio State - Home
Alt. Black, 'Cat Head Alt. Black
Purple
Wisconsin - Away
Standard Purple White Black
Minnesota - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
Iowa - Away
Standard Purple White
White
Nebraska - Away
Standard Purple White White
Michigan - Home
Alt. Warrior Alt. Warrior
Alt. Warrior
Mich. State - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black
Illinois - Away
Standard Purple White
White
 
 
2014 Game Helmet Jersey
Pants
Cal - Home Standard Purple
Purple       
Black       
NIU - Home
Alt. Purple, Flag N Purple Black
W. Ill. - Home
Alt. White, Purple N Purple White
Penn State - Away
Standard Purple White White
Wisconsin - Home
Standard Purple Purple White
Minnesota - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White White
Nebraska - Home
Alt. Gothic Alt. Gothic 2014
Alt. Gothic
Iowa - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White Purple
Michigan - Home
Standard Purple Purple Black    
Notre Dame - Away
Standard Purple White Purple
Purdue - Away
Standard PurpleWhite Purple
Illinois - Home
Standard Purple Purple White
 
 
2015 Game Helmet Jersey
Pants
Stanford - Home Standard Purple
Purple      
White    
Eastern Ill. - Home
Alt. White, Flag N Purple White
Duke - Away
Alt. White, 'Cat Head White White
Ball State - Home
Alt. Black, Black N Purple Black
Minnesota - Home
Alt. Gothic Alt. Gothic 2015
Alt. Gothic
Michigan - Away
Standard Purple White Purple
Iowa - Home
Standard Purple '96 Rose Special
Purple
Nebraska - Away
Alt. White, Purple N White White
Penn State - Home
Alt. Black, Black N Alt. Black White
Purdue - Home
Standard Purple Purple 
Black
Wisconsin - Away
Alt. Black, Black N
White Black
Illinois - Away (S. Field)
Alt. White, Purple N White White
Tennessee - Outback
Alt. Purple, 2016 Outback
White White




2012-2015 Alternate Uniform Components

Jerseys

JERSEY PATCHES:
The Wildcats wore their standard purple jersey in the 2013 Gator Bowl, with the addition of a Gator Bowl patch on the left side of the chest.

For the 2016 Outback Bowl, the 'Cats wore their standard white jersey, with a 30th anniversary Outback Bowl patch on the left side of the chest.

ALTERNATE BLACK JERSEY (ALT. BLACK):
The 'Cats wore their alternate Under Armour black jersey for the 2012 Nebraska game, along with standard black home pants.  It was the second time ever that NU has worn black pants and black jerseys (the first time was the 2011 Michigan game), and it was the first time ever that NU has worn all black, including black helmets.  NU also wore the alternate jersey for select games in 2012-'15.




ALTERNATE 1996 ROSE BOWL COMMEMORATIVE JERSEY ('96 ROSE SPECIAL):
During its 2015 homecoming game vs. Iowa, NU wore a jersey commemorating the 1995 team, which played in the 1996 Rose Bowl. Unlike the 2013 Wounded Warrior uni or the 2014-2015 Gothic unis, which featured an entirely different outfit, this was an alternate jersey only: the helmet and pants were from NU's standard uniform.

The jersey was not a true throwback, but a modification of the jersey NU wore during the '96 Rose Bowl, the '97 Citrus Bowl, and during the '97 regular season (but not, interestingly, the '95-'96 regular seasons). The 2015 jersey did not have the "BIG SIX" patch, but it did have a Rose Bowl commerative patch on the collar:



Three of the '96 Rose Bowl tribute jerseys had special nameplates on the back, honoring the three members of the 1995 team who had passed:




Helmets

HELMET DECALS:
  • Beginning with the 2012 Indiana game and continuing through the end of '12, the team wore an "LB" decal on the back of its helmets, in memory of Leon Brockmeier, a member of the 2000 Big Ten title team, who died on September 22, 2012.
  • Midway through the 2013 season, and for the remainder of 2013, NU wore two memorial helmet decals: "FP," in memory of Francis Peay, and "MD," in memory of Mike Dunbar.
  • For their 2016 Outback Bowl helmets, the 'Cats added an Outback Bowl decal and a Chicago flag decal to their B1G logo, American flag, and 'Cat head decals on the back of the helmets.
ALTERNATE HELMETS:
  • Alt. Purple, Flag N: For one game each season during 2012-2014, NU revisited the "9/10/11" helmet that it originally wore for the Sept. 10, 2011 Eastern Illinois game.

  • Alt. Black, 'Cat Head: For the 2012 Nebraska game's black/black/black (or, as Spinal Tap would say, "none more black") special uniforms, NU first wore the helmet illustrated below.  The team also wore it for selected games in 2012-13.  It marked a number of firsts for the team:
    • The helmet was the first black helmet worn by the team since the early 1950s.
    • It was the first helmet to feature a logo that was neither a number nor a letter, but an illustration (the modified 'Cat head design).
    • It was the first helmet with a metallic logo.
    • It was the first matte-finished helmet.

  • Alt. Black, Black N: Introduced at the Gator Bowl, this was also a matte black helmet, now with the standard N logo, also black, and outlined in chrome:


  • Alt. White, Purple N: The 2013 season opener at Cal featured NU's all-white uniform, the first white/white/white uni for NU since 1980, and it included this helmet, the first white helmet with the Northwestern N.  Like the Gator Bowl N, this logo featured a silver outline, similar to the variation of the helmet logo that NU sported from 1982 through 1993.  The N also was a slightly different shape from the current purple helmet's logo, again similar to the 1980s version of the logo:


  • Alt. White, Flag N: The Wildcats introduced a white version of their N-Flag helmet (aka the "9/10/11" helmet) during their 2015 game vs. Eastern Illinois...



  • Alt. White, 'Cat Head: ...And, in the following road game at Duke, NU introduced its ninth alternate helmet in the past five seasons, unveiling a white version of the 2012 'Cat Head helmet.



  • Alt. Purple, 2016 Outback: NU unveiled still another alternate helmet in the 2016 Outback Bowl. The helmet kept NU's standard logo on the left side, but replaced it on the right side with the player's number. The helmet also had an Outback Bowl and a Chicago flag decal added to the back.

Alternate Total Uniforms

2013 Wounded Warrior Uniform (Alt. Warrior)

Under Armour provided an alternate uniform for the 2013 game vs. Michigan.  The response to the uniform was mixed, and there was some controversy (to say the least, as seen in the comments sections here and here and here).  While some fans viewed the uniforms as a fitting and stark tribute to vets and "edgy," others were put off by the perceived mistreatment of the flag or what appeared to be blood splatter (both NU and Under Armour released statements denying the design represented blood spray; it was intended to be a "distressed" pattern).  NU donated a portion of the sales of replica jerseys to the Wounded Warrior project, and the school gave 100% of the proceeds of an auction of the game-worn jerseys.

Regardless of controversy, the one-use alternate uniform generated national attention, which was somewhat surprising because Under Armour had actually unveiled the same uniform in 2012 for Hawaii and Boston College.  There was nothing unique to the NU version of the uniform.

The uniform broke with NU tradition on multiple levels.  It was the first time since NU began wearing a true football uniform in 1888 that the team's uniform did not sport a single stitch of purple.  Even games played in 1879 through 1886 likely included purple garments of some sort (although that cannot be confirmed).  The last time the team wore no purple was quite likely the 1876 game against the Chicago Football Club.

HELMET: The 'Cats wore a split-designed flag helmet, the (player's) right side sporting the star-spangled blue field, the left a "distressed" red and white stripe design.  The face mask was grey.



JERSEY: The grey jersey (the first grey jersey for NU in well over 100 years) also sported the flag motif, on the shoulders.  The shoulder patches greatly resembled the old College All-Star uniform design (although that is likely a coincidence).  The sleeves (of the compression shirt, not the jersey itself) had the Northwestern "N" logo with the flag design that NU originally used on its helmet in 2011.

The jersey still had the word "NORTHWESTERN" on the chest, but the font for both the wordmark and the numbers was a block font.  The white numbers had a red outline; the wordmark did not.

Unlike the standard jerseys, the Warrior jersey had no name on the back; rather, several different patriotic words were sewn onto the back.  These include "duty," "country," and "commitment."



PANTS: Also grey, also sporting the split flag design, with the stars and blue field on the right leg, stripes on the left.  The "N" with flag design was attached to the left hip.  Socks were grey.  The left shoe was striped; the right shoe was blue and star-spangled.




2014-2015 Northwestern Gothic Uniform (Alt. Gothic)

As the comments from 2012, at the top of this page, demonstrate, Under Armour and NU had planned since the beginning to produce a version of the uniform that incorporated NU's arches, ivy and gothic sign lettering. They decided to unveil the uniform for the 2014 night homecoming game against Nebraska.

The uniforms are predominantly black and gold, with purple as a supporting color. It should be noted that black and gold were NU's original colors, selected by the students in 1879 (before that, NU's teams wore a variety of colors, including light blue and white, and brown and white; however, none of these were official colors). Black and gold lasted only briefly, before the school switched to purple and gold later in 1879. NU's early football teams did wear purple and gold, but the football team has never worn the original black and gold-- at least, not until this uniform.

It's only my opinion, but I think that this is the greatest alternate uniform that Northwestern has ever produced. I hope that this sticks, and becomes *the* alternate-- possibly once annually-- uniform for the program. It is perfectly Northwestern.

HELMET: The black matte alternate helmet introduced in 2012 gets more decals. This time, the N is in purple, outlined in gold. For the first time since 1980, the helmet has a stripe: a modified northwestern stripe of gold-purple-gold. For the first time ever, there is an image on the back of the helmet: the NU Weber Arch.

       

2014 JERSEY: The alternate black jersey features the "Northwestern" wordmark in gold, in the distinctive gothic font that NU has used on its campus signs for decades. Numbers are purple, with gold outlines, and also scripted in gothic font. The Athletic N reappears on the sholders, low, and surrounded by brickwork and ivy (in faint grey). There is a modified Northwestern stripe on the shoulders, connected to purple piping.

 


2015 JERSEY: The Wildcats broke out the Gothic Uniforms for the 2015 home game vs. Minnesota. The helmet and pants were identical to the 2014 uniform, but the jersey was changed, from purple numbers to gold:





PANTS:
Also black, with the brick/ivy pattern and the modified stripe on the back of the legs.