WNBA rolls out new Nike jerseys for 2021 season and 25th anniversary celebration

ByKatie Barnes via ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Glass ceilings and the Space Needle, the 19th Amendment and "Equality." As part of the WNBA's 25th anniversary season in 2021, players will wear new Nike jerseys with individual messages and city-specific flourishes for each of the 12 teams.

On Thursday, Nike unveiled the collection, which adds a highly anticipated third jersey option (Rebel Edition) to the teams' Heroine Edition (home) and Explorer Edition (away) uniforms.

All of the jerseys have a 1/144 notation to represent the number of players in the WNBA. Front numbers have returned. And for the first time since 2015, white jerseys will be back in the WNBA. Previous uniforms had followed a template with only different colorways and sponsorships to distinguish them. The 2021 uniforms will include unique fonts, patterns (hello, pinstripes!) and symbols.

"You can't minimize the impact that the third uniform is going to have on the overall aesthetic of the league," Chicago Sky guard Diamond DeShields said. "When you make it to the professional level, you want to feel like that experience is elite. Part of that is definitely in the apparel and the uniform. I think it's really going to be eye-opening and bring more attention to us this season, which is ultimately what we want."

The uniform collection was designed in consideration of player feedback and league insights. The player feedback focused on the fit of previous uniforms and the need for differentiation across the league.

"I'm a gear person's worst nightmare because I tuck and I roll and I twist and do everything else," reigning WNBA MVP and Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson said. "But you could tell Nike was definitely like, 'We're going to try to make sure A'ja doesn't [have to] do any of that.'"

Players in the WNBA range in height from 5-foot-6 to 6-foot-9, and there is a variety of body types. In seasons past, many players have resorted to rolling their shorts and tucking their jerseys underneath the shoulder straps of their athletic bras to get their uniforms to fit right. With the new uniforms, players can choose between three necklines -- round neck, V-neck and the new hybrid Victory neckline that is exclusive to the WNBA. The shorts have been redesigned with more room through the thighs and glutes, and the jersey has wider arm holes and a wider body to allow for more room in the abdomen and chest.

"I've always subscribed to, 'Look good, feel good, play good,'" Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird said. "If it fits right and it looks good, you're a little more comfortable, which means you're a little more confident. It sounds silly, but it matters."

In addition to the uniforms, Nike also is releasing a suite of products in team colors -- vests, T-shirts, pants, hoodies and more -- for players to customize their on-court and off-court looks, as well as a Team 13 collection -- the first WNBA fan apparel collection offered by Nike.

"Right now, we have the biggest and largest and deepest women's organization focused on making sure we are tapping into all the opportunities for 'her,'" said Sonja Henning, Nike's vice president of league partnerships in North America and a former WNBA player. "No surprise that led us to the most comprehensive WNBA apparel offering Nike has ever made and probably the WNBA has ever seen. They're going to show up with new practice gear, new travel gear and new lifestyle gear."

Much of the new apparel will be available to fans online and through Dick's Sporting Goods, which gave fans an inadvertent sneak peek when some of the merchandise made it onto the shelves a few weeks early.

"With leaks comes conversation, comes storylines, comes chatter, and I think that's good for growth," Bird said. "When something gets leaked, there's an asterisk of importance. And it's kind of cool to have a conversation around a WNBA jersey feeling that way."

Scroll below for an official look at all 12 Rebel Edition jerseys for the 2021 WNBA season. We picked those because they're dope; but don't worry, the Heroine and Explorer editions aren't too shabby, either.

Atlanta Dream

No team made more noise a year ago than the Dream, and this special jersey comes with the thunder of black and blue. The silver hues throughout the top represent the platinum and gold records produced in the city's vibrant music scene.

Chicago Sky

In popping, blue colors, the Sky's jersey screams action. "For us, they talk about the ground-breaking, glass-shattering women who have accomplished things in the city of Chicago," DeShields said. "That's something that's very specific to the city. There's a lot of pride in the uniforms now. When we put them on, it will feel much different."

Connecticut Sun

The Sun's uniform is inspired by the Mohegan Tribe, featuring the Mohegan word for sun, "keesusk," front and center. The pattern of the taping down the sides is a nod to the Trail of Life that connects past and future generations.

Dallas Wings

This jersey is designed as an homage to the World War II P-40 Warhawk, a plane manufactured in Texas and test-flown by Women Airforce Service Pilots. As for that base color, we're told it's a military-grade green.

Indiana Fever

It's hard to miss the "Stranger Things" feel to the Fever's Rebel Edition. The Netflix series is set in the fictional town ofHawkins, Indiana, and these uniforms bring it all to life. The bold font reminds us of riding bikes, stirring up trouble and trying not to get caught in the Upside Down.

Las Vegas Aces

The 2020 runners-up will debut an elegant black jersey with gold trim that is adorned with tiny diamonds, a nod to the playing cards found in the Vegas casinos. "It's just a different look," Wilson said. "It's pretty unique to us. And it looks like a high-end designer. That's Vegas as a whole: It's high-end and entertainment."

Los Angeles Sparks

There are lots of stars in L.A., and this Sparks jersey puts that on full display. The black top comes with a bold gold trim and, if we're not mistaken, a glimpse of a galaxy resides in the side panels.

Minnesota Lynx

The Lynx jersey pays tribute to First Avenue, Minneapolis' independent music hub that is a stone's throw away from Target Center. First Avenue's iconic wall also is memorialized in the subtle stars dotting the new Lynx top.

New York Liberty

The Liberty's Rebel Edition brings the heat with the vibrant color often associated with the oxidized copper of the Statue of Liberty herself. (Read: teal, for all you non-chemists out there.) And her torch helps highlight the promise of equality for all.

Phoenix Mercury

The three-time champion Mercury will be rocking a black jersey with high-contrast pops of white trim and an orange X, a tribute to the team's fan base, the X-Factor. The 3D lettering features hints of traditional Mercury purple.

Seattle Storm

For the first time in her legendary, 19-year WNBA career, Bird will wear black (with a sash). "It's kind of got this grunge vibe to it," Bird said of the defending champions' Rebel Edition. "Almost like Nirvana, and there have been a lot of female grunge bands to come through Seattle, as well. Seattle does have these small, unique things to it, so to have that represented on a jersey is cool."

Washington Mystics

The "RISE" panel on the front is meant to empower women "to rise up for what they believe in," said Tania Flynn, Nike's vice president of women's apparel design. In the strip below that is the text of the 19th Amendment -- which gave women the right to vote -- in Constitutional script.