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Before the Overwatch League’s 2020 season began, the organization announced a collaboration with famed streetwear designer Jeff Staple for a full fashion overhaul. Staple designed “elevated” jerseys, jackets, and accessories for players and fans in an attempt to add a more casual, fashionable twist to the usual esports kit.
Overwatch League players rocked the jerseys on stage before matches were moved to an online format. They looked pretty fashionable, but will Staples’ esports streetwear work for the average fan? I tested a new jersey to find out.
Why it matters
I’m lucky enough to own a number of jerseys from previous years of the Overwatch League to compare with this new kit. These include player jerseys manufactured by INTOTHEAM in 2018, when that company had sole control of jerseys for the league. In 2019, the league partnered with Fanatics to alter INTOTHEAM jerseys and supply accessories for fans. Fanatics still supplies the Overwatch League in 2020, but Staples’ designs are the only options for jerseys.
There’s another important twist to my review. As a plus-size woman, I’m not the “normal” audience for an esports jersey. In the past, female esports fans have had to rely on reviews and underground knowledge from friends and influencers to decide if products would flatter them or even fit them whatsoever. While this review is mostly about the overall design and construction of the Staple collaboration, inclusive fit is also something that’s very important to me.
I received a Washington Justice home jersey in size Large to review.
Overwatch League jerseys of the past were made of 100-percent micro polyester. The new Staple jerseys are also made of polyester, but they’re updated with a “pin-hole mesh” fabric to allow for more ventilation. The mesh more closely resembles that of traditional sports jerseys but is a matte, no-shine version.
The Staple jerseys end up less soft than the INTOTHEAM jerseys, but the ventilation is immensely better and a worthy trade-off. I ran around doing errands with multiple layers over the Staple jersey and never felt overheated. While I appreciate my 2018 and 2019 jersey purchases, I’ve also experienced the singular horror of wearing a black INTOTHEAM jersey at the inaugural grand finals when it was 95 degrees in the shade. Fashionable, but not fun.
The applications on the Staple jersey are also very different from previous designs. According to an email from the merchandise department, the logos and team names on the jersey are made of a “higher quality premium silicon application.” INTOTHEAM printed designs directly into jerseys in 2018 to avoid peeling, which plagued player jerseys that Fanatics altered in 2019. The Staple application feels “sticky” at first thanks to the silicone, but doesn’t budge when stretched, washed, or worn under other items of clothing. It’s a big upgrade.
Comfort is important when wearing a jersey for long periods of time. Thankfully, the Staple jersey stays comfortable during both extended gaming sessions and physical activity. The Overwatch League jerseys have always been comfortable, though, so this metric stays about the same.
The jersey’s fit is relatively loose considering the streetwear inspiration behind Staple’s design. That benefits us all. To be blunt, esports jerseys aren’t the most flattering of outfits. They look fashionable, but certain colors and fabrics can stretch, bend, and show off all those victory meals at Korean BBQ joints. This was a big problem with solid-colored jerseys the past few years, especially white or black.
Due to the Staple jersey’s loose fit, this problem is relatively fixed. The away jersey is mostly white, which is not entirely flattering on most people, but it doesn’t suffer from the awkward tight spots that previous Overwatch League jerseys did. This is mostly due to one extremely important addition.
Side gussets: The game changer
When the Staple collaboration was initially announced, the hype video showed off zippers on the side of each jersey. This feature is described on the Overwatch League site as a “side seam gusset for adjustable comfort.” Without trying the jersey on, I thought this feature was completely useless; it was an excuse to bump up the price with needless details. I was very wrong.
The side gusset, which I’ve now affectionately dubbed “the hip zip,” is an absolute game changer for anyone who needs an adjustable fit in a jersey past the waist area. This includes anyone with large hips or any person that wants more room when they sit for long periods of time while gaming.
For me and many other women in the scene, this singular feature makes jerseys infinitely more comfortable and appropriate for long-term wear. Every other jersey I’ve purchased ends up riding up around my hip area within minutes of me putting it on. This is due to construction that is pretty obviously meant for men with a lean physique. The Staple jersey aims for that basic fit, but the side gusset allows people with a different body shape to also enjoy the jersey. It’s a small change that makes a world of difference in inclusive sizing.
Due to the enhanced construction and name recognition of Jeff Staple, the 2020 Overwatch League jerseys have jumped in price. Basic jerseys run around $90 and custom or player jerseys have skyrocketed to $150. This is admittedly out of range for many fans, which is an unfortunate reality of upgrading merchandise. Even though the price is steep, the new Staple jerseys are a good investment for certain fans.
Because of its comfort and ability to withstand a lot of daily wear and activity, the Staple jerseys are worth it if you are attending homestand games, running events, or gaming while representing your favorite team. This is a jersey that is meant to be worn and used for long periods of time. Jerseys from past seasons of the Overwatch League are still available at a reduced price and would likely work much better for quick gaming sessions or light wear. If you just want a quick picture for social media, the price point may not be worth it for you.
Additionally, if you’ve never been a fan of jersey designs from “traditional” sports, the Staple jersey may also not be the right product for you. But I’d urge those who are turned off by the pin-mesh look or updated designs to give these jerseys another look. The comfort and excellent, inclusive fit of the Staple jersey go far beyond their marginal resemblance to traditional kits. For fans of the Overwatch League, the Staple jerseys are a quality investment, but I won’t fault you if you wait for a sale to grab one.
The Overwatch League Jeff Staple jersey was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes. The reviewer is also a freelancer for the Overwatch League.