Fashionista 2: or, The Clothes Closet Revisited

Back in the Plague Year of 2020 I did a “memory box” post about Thorns kits. It was fun (okay, I thought it was fun and it’s my blog, so there…). It’s here, if you want to go look it over and reminisce about Days and Kits Gone By.

This came to mind because this week the club dropped the 2024 Kit Reveal and…

…well, hmmm.

The red (presumably) primary is – yes, it has an official name – the “Forever Thorn” kit. The presser says it “…is an expression of the joy of matchday in PDX, and that unique bond between club and community. The bold-colored thorns embedded in the jersey move in an upward trajectory, symbolic of our pursuit to raise the bar as a club, for the league and the women’s game.”

Apparently the yellow cheese-wedge thingies are supposed to be the thorns. Really? Whoodathunkit? Here’s a better look at it:

On the shirt they’re…idunno…but on the socks they look more like Doritos that thorns. Doritos, mmmm…the kit that reminds you of when you used to smoke lots of weed? Sweet.

I’m gonna call this the Doritos Kit. Sporting junk food, utterly unmemorable.

The secondary, though..?

This thing is called the “Reflection” kit, because it “…is a symbiotic relationship rooted in civic pride, passion, and authenticity. Embodied by our secondary jersey, we are a reflection of our community, the Rose City – a city of leaders, creators, winners, change makers, pioneers, and innovators.”


Blue is not Thorns. Roses are not blue; “Blue Roses” sounds like a bad country song.

Reflection? I’m not sure what this thing is a reflection of unless it’s the Willamette River after a really bad combined sewer overflow.

There’s no reason to hang a blue kit on a Portland Thorn. We’re not fucking Seattle, thank God! This nonsense reminds me of the dog’s breakfast Nike made of the original MLS kits. That’s the inaugural San Jose shirt right there. Something else, right?

These new kits are not that bad, but they’re also not that memorable, either.

That’s kind of the problem with both of these. They’re completely bland.

The good? A red primary again. Finally.

The bad? They’re both utterly and completely meh. Bo-ring, corporate. Undistinguished, forgettable. There’s little or nothing to like or hate (other than the blue color) about them. They’re just kinda there.

The ugly? That fucking blue. Honestly, Nike! Do you even give a shit? Did your designer even know anything about the club, or its history?

Apparently not.

Well, these aren’t the ugliest kits the club has ever worn. But they may be the least distinctive.

And speaking of distinctive kits…

Back in 2020 we left off with the 2019 primary, the red-and-black “Jenga Blocks” kit, this thing:

I liked it, but I added that: “…the kit release teaser before the season went on hiatus suggested that the team might appear in black in 2020. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Boy howdy, did we ever see!

That’s the “Black Rose” kit, which might possibly be the most dramatic (and is, I suspect, the most popular) strip in Thorns history.

It’s a terrific kit; clean, striking, iconic, memorable. Here’s both primary and secondary kits from the 2020-2021 seasons:

The secondary is also a good-looking strip in closeup. Unfortunately the screened thorns pattern didn’t really show up in person. Here’s what it looked like from the stands:

That’s just kinda “White T-Shirt FC”. Good idea, worked in detail, not so much from a distance.

In 2022 the club made the usual biannual kit changeover, to these:

They played the black “Barbed Wire” shirt through last season, as well.

I’m very bleh about the Barbed Wire. It’s okay, works as a dark kit. I have trouble seeing the thorn wires as hoops although technically they are. But it’s not awful and we won the Final in 2022 in it, so it kinda goes to the Ring of Honor alongside the 2013 Rec League Kit and the 2017 Gray Sleeves shirt.

The secondary, though? It’s the worst example of “WTSFC” I can think of outside the actual white-T-shirt from the 2013/14 secondary. So in 2023 the club ran out the now-either-famous (or infamous)…

…”Tattoo Kit”.

I’m deeply conflicted about this shirt.

On the one hand, it’s possibly the funnest, most creative, most interesting way around the whole white-t-shirt problem. I love the idea, and the execution is pretty bouncy.

On the other hand, we often seemed to play poorly in it, to the point where I really worried when I saw it. It’s not the shirt itself, it’s just that it’s got some bad feelings associated with the 2023 season for me.

What I did like that came from this shirt, though? This:

The warmup top that was designed from it.

It carries the shoulder roses from the white shirt as well as the original black-red-white-green badge (which I can’t like enough – I get why the club changed over; the original is busy and hard to read – but the original is just perfect).

These carry on a tradition of “great Thorns warmup tops” going back to 2014 and the red-black-white “Tire Factory” warmup shirt.

That kit was so tasty that the club picked it up the following year as a third kit – the only season to my knowledge the team ran three kits – but it disappeared in the turbulent wake of that dire season.

Since then the club has rolled out a plaid warmup…

…in 2019 and 2021, and the current green…

…since then.

Both are perfectly serviceable as such; I know several people who like the greens enough to want them as a matchday strip. I’ve never warmed to that; it seems to me too much like making the Thorns the Timbers Ladies Auxiliary the way the Dash is to the Dynamo in Houston.

I don’t hate the kit as such, just what it feels like it represents.

That brings us to today and the Dorito Kit and the CSO Kit. We live in a sadly diminished age.

Since we counted up the 2013-2020 kits in the last fashion post, let’s add the 2020-2024 kits in this one.

Well, the 2024 Secondary is possibly the worst in club history; boring to death and fucking blue.

The 2024 Primary is utterly meh. The 2022 Secondary is even more meh.

The 2020-21 Secondary is a good idea that didn’t really work all that well on the pitch.

The 2022-23 Primary is kind of Basic Black…but is also a star warrior, so there’s that.

The 2023 Secondary is fun and creative.

The 2020-21 Primary is arguably the best Thorns kit ever fielded.

So here’s my kit tree; from least to most favorite towards the bottom:

The Black Rose is awesome. But Red Is The Color, so the 2015 for me.


John Lawes
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3 thoughts on “Fashionista 2: or, The Clothes Closet Revisited

  1. For what little my two cents are worth, I kinda groaned at both of them…

    The faded red might look alright from my seat to the remotest corner, or watching highlights on my phone for the one home game I seem to miss each year. Dubbing them the dorito kit about nails it, although perhaps the triangles will appear less like chips floating in diluted salsa from a distance? Let’s hope those gold highlights shimmer and dance like cheesy marketing copy!

    The secondary kit, aside from the shorts, looks like the latest in scrubs fashion.. (I suppose in a tent triage scenario, the shorts could make sense?) Assuming the team will primarily wear them on the road, I anticipate half a season of feeling confused by the color and reminding myself which team I’m supposed to root for.

    Sometimes the doodlers at team swoosh get it right, but not consistently, or often. These…. could be worse. Let’s hope they don’t foretell a middling season.

    1. Y’know what jumped out at me as I was writing this up?

      How many really, really “meh” kits we’ve had. I mean, there’s three that really jump for me; the 2015 primary (as you know), the 2020-2021 primary (the Black Rose), and the 2014-15 Tire Factory red-white-black hoops. You can throw in the Tattoo kit as fun (but like I said, I associate it with playing badly, so…) and the 2015 Secondary, kinda.

      But the rest? Wow. BO-ring, The 2013 primary gets a tiny bit of a pass for being a championship season (and the inaugural season). But so many other “white-t-shirt” secondaries (pretty much all of them, including the 2020-21 white, which is too bad because it looks great up close) and the other primaries.

      But I’m not really worried about the kit. I’m worried about the squad, and that we can’t see how they’re shaping until it counts.

  2. Black Rose and Tattoo are hands down my favorites. I’ve always liked the 2017/8 Primary with grey sleeves as well, in part influenced by the iconic celebration picture of Tobin wearing it that I walk by on my way to our seats every game.

    Not a fan of the new kits. Our kits should primarily be red, black, and/or white. Not orange, blue, or green. Practice kits in green? No problem – anything goes. Not game kits…and I agree that green will draw the inevitable “Timbers gals” comments. No thank you.

    The background in the picture of Soph is red. Notice how the jersey doesn’t blend in? That’s because it is orange! Maybe not Houston orange, but all they have to do is go a bit redder…and a blue secondary? Were they out of black fabric or something?

    I do like the socks – the triangles remind me of Bugles as well.


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