Like many NRL clubs, the Penrith Panthers have had various looks over their 50-odd year history – from brown and white stripes to teal and purple monstrosities and even some gold in there last season. But as the club moves into the second half of its first century, they wanted to firmly, finally establish their identity again.
To do that, the Panthers asked their fans a simple question – of all the looks the club has had over the years, which do you love the most? And the answer was simple – their classic, distinctive look that the club wore in the 1990s, including their 1991 Grand Final-winning season.
And that’s pretty much exactly what ASICS has given us for the 2017 Panthers jerseys… and it’s created some of the coolest, most distinctive shirts in the NRL this season. Building on the design of last season’s 50th Anniversary Heritage jersey, we have all the key elements of that 90s design incorporated here, but with a definite modern twist.
So, the home shirt keeps the original’s half black, half white design, but instead of pinstripes across the lower half, we have a much more modern black-to white fade with subtle tonal stripes instead.
We also have the most striking element of those classic early 90s jerseys – the red, yellow and green triple stripe across the middle of the jersey and on the sleeves.
The alternate shirt keeps things pretty much identical on the front and back of the design – keeping the same black-to-white fade, tonal stripes and everything else. while contrast is provided by white sleeves and side panels instead of white.
We couldn’t care less, however – yes it might be a slightly lazy tonal swap, but when the design is so unique, so unusual and so striking, we don’t mind seeing it in stereo.
The 90s were a golden era for weird and wacky sports jersey designs, but this is a timely reminder that it wasn’t all hideous patterns and garish colours – occasionally they hit upon something timeless, and this is it.
The third jersey is definitely not so retro, and it builds on the club’s fondness for a pink secondary shirt that they most recently debuted back in 2015.
So instead of black and white, we have a pink to white fade, complete with tonal stripes on the bottom half of the jersey, complete with gradient tonal stripes on the sleeves, too.
It’s all very striking, especially thanks to the black contrast panels and collar, but it’s a little more generic and a great deal less memorable than the home and away shirts.
It’s perhaps no surprise that when asked what classic look the Panthers should adopt, their fans went for one that they associated with success and good times, but they also picked an era that revives one of the most unique looks in all of rugby.