How Nike designed Florida Gators' swamp green alternate uniforms

Published Oct. 12, 2017

Florida's Gator-themed alternate uniforms have been one of the most talked about topics in college football this week.

That can be good or bad, depending on how you feel about UF's decision to ditch its traditional orange and blue for Saturday's home game against Texas A&M.

But what about the perspective of Nike's lead designer on a project that was 18 months in the making?

"This alternate uniform was and is an opportunity to tell a unique part of the Gators story in a way that has never been told before," Nike art director Clint Shaner said.

Shaner explained that story, and more, in an email interview with the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday:

How did the idea come about?
"We have a long-standing partnership with University of Florida. There is constant dialogue about design, performance and innovation. The idea for an alternate uniform was born out of a conversation with Coach McElwain. There was a tremendous focus on the future. We had a very open conversation around what we could do to elevate Florida and what that would look like expressed as an alternate uniform, of course while staying true to their brand identity and the tremendous tradition they have in Gainesville. There were no preset limitations, Florida really allowed us to 'show them the future'. This alternate uniform was and is an opportunity to tell a unique part of the Gators story in a way that has never been told before."

How many different shades were considered before deciding on that gator green/gray?
"There were many shades considered. Alligators can be olive, brown, gray, or black in color. Ultimately, we landed on the swamp green color. It is a unique color that pays homage to the location and most feared predator in the swamp."

Were there any other, similar uniforms you all used as inspiration, or maybe a starting point?
"I always look to the school, the location and their identity as our primary source of inspiration. I was inspired by the gator as an ultimate hunter and master of camouflage. These intimidating animals are prehistoric and have been thriving for 35 million years. They can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds and be 20 feet in length. It didn't hurt that the Gators home is Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, or "The Swamp," and is widely recognized as one of, if not the toughest, environments in all of college football."

What were the difficulties of trying to replicate the scale look on a uniform?
"As we developed the jersey, there were many technical considerations. Specifically, around the sublimation (printing) of the gator print on the jersey material. Ultimately, we wanted to ensure that the print wrapped the athletes body correctly, resembling the animal itself. We also wanted to ensure that there was plenty of contrast with the gator print. We have a talented team of people that are experts at what they do and make these ideas become reality."

What were the other biggest design challenges with the uniform?
"At Nike, we lead with design, performance and innovation. As a creative person, I am always pushing to create something that is unique and compelling. Sometimes that means considering something different. We want to have fun with the stories we tell and create experiences and products that people can rally around."

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

What's it like trying to make such a drastic change to a school that has a pretty iconic, recognizable look and brand? This is the first-time Florida has ever really done anything like this.
"Florida is an iconic brand with a tremendous history. I want to create products and tell stories that are provocative. When you have a mascot like the Gator, that's a tremendous starting point. I think this uniform is unique to a time and place."

What's the feedback you've received so far?