Nike Fanatics uniforms

The new Nike Vapor Premier MLB uniforms, introduced at the 2023 All-Star Game to generally positive reviews, have now turned into a PR nightmare for Nike, Fanatics and MLB.

Players, fans, and sports media are harshly criticizing the new uniforms, which will be worn this year. The new jerseys, designed by Nike and manufactured by Fanatics, first made news earlier this week in the St Louis Cardinals training camp, when several players spoke out about them. They’ve now become the biggest topic in spring training.

Players have even complained to their union about the new threads.

So what’s wrong with the uniforms? Players and others have mentioned a wide range of issues: Cheap-looking material, inconsistent colors, bad stitching, poor fit and bad lettering placement.

“It looks like a replica,” Angels outfielder Taylor Ward said (via The Athletic).

Media reports have not been kind to the new uniforms.

Many fans and media are pointing the finger at Fanatics for the failure. The company has signed deals throughout pro and college sports to produce officially licensed merchandise, but it has earned many vocal critics. columnist Drew Magary succinctly noted this week, “Their merchandise is defective at worst and disappointing at best. Their inventory is often comically limited. Worst of all, they’re unavoidable.

Yet The Athletic reports that Fanatics has been manufacturing MLB uniforms for four years now, and these new jerseys were designed with the input and approval of players. And they were a hit when they were unveiled at the MLB All-Star Game last season.

“These new uniforms fit better and feel lighter,” Atlanta Braves star and reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. said at the time. “I play fast and want to wear something that won’t pull when I’m running. Feeling free in the jersey is the best feeling in the world.”

That’s not the same positive message players are sending this spring.

“I think the last names look really bad honestly,” one unnamed Cardinals player told The Athletic. “I saw someone on Twitter said this looks like a Walmart jersey.”

Thus far, MLB, Nike and Fanatics have not addressed the situation. It’s possible these issues could be addressed before the regular season, as The Athletic noted. “It is unclear whether these uniforms will differ from those worn in the regular season.”

[The Athletic]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.