An upcoming NBA season unlike any other for the Charlotte Hornets will be accompanied by a new City edition uniform that is as original and creative as anything the franchise has ever donned on the court.
The fourth jersey in the team’s rotation this season will be almost entirely mint green and feature gold and granite taping on the neckline and arm and leg openings. The Buzz City wordmark, additional lettering and the secondary logo (diving Hornet) on the side of the shorts are all granite colored with gold accents.
“We believe this is the most unique City edition design ever,” said Hornets Senior VP of Consumer Engagement, Seth Bennet. “The inspiration and focus changed to a hyperlocal storytelling about achievements and celebrations. Our focus and design create a story unique to our city that can only be told and owned by us. It defines the attitude and personality of our fans. It’s authentic, connected, distinctive and cool.”
Mint is a reference to Charlotte’s status as home to the country’s inaugural branch mint, the granite pays tribute to North Carolina’s state rock and the gold symbolizes the nation’s first gold rush, which began in the early 1800’s in nearby Cabarrus County. The pinstripes pay homage to the organization’s original uniforms, although are ridged in this version like the edge of a coin. To date, this is the most authentic story the team has ever told through a uniform.
“In a figurative sense, we saw parallels between our city with the strength and versatility [these things] represent and what we’ve become known for. With this mind, we’re going outside our standard color pallet for the first time,” said Bennett. The bold all-mint jersey will join the Association (white), Icon (teal) and Statement (purple) uniforms in the team’s apparel rotation.
“If you do your due diligence, you feel as if you’re taking a calculated risk,” said Kris Bazen, the organization’s Senior Director of Creative Services when asked about going with a totally different primary color. “You’re not doing something that’s just arbitrary or for the sake of change. We know what this topic is, we know what this platform is about and I think the fans are also understanding of that, too.”
He added, “I love the challenge of it. To be able to solve that puzzle in a way that’s going to be meaningful to the organization and to the fans, if you’re able to pull it off successfully, there’s no feeling quite like it. You just hope that people appreciate and understand the effort that’s put in. I think for us, what makes me have peace of mind is knowing that it has been received so well. But trust me, there were nerves in advance.”
The origins of this particular design began way back in the spring of 2017 at the annual planning meeting between the Hornets and Nike out in Oregon. Ongoing development continued over the last two-and-a-half years, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing work-from-home shift.
“The response overall, from my prospective, has been extremely positive,” Bazen stated. “I’m glad that’s the case because the storytelling and the research that we’ve done was well worth it. To be able to educate our base about the origin of this uniform, for them to process and see that there is true understanding of the region, which is really the spirit of the City edition uniform, it’s really rewarding to know people get it, respect it and appreciate it.”
The new uniforms will be available for consumer purchase starting on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Hornets Fan Shop and retail outlets worldwide. The team’s in-game jersey schedule will also be announced sometime in the near future. While the satisfaction of releasing this unique design will linger a bit longer, Bazen and his team are already looking ahead to the next rendition.
“I’ve actually seen our group gravitate much closer together and I’m really excited for what the future holds,” he said. “Icon and Association were a great first step for us and we saw opportunities to expand upon the successes that we had. I’m just excited for the next one to be quite honest.”