When the University of Oregon Football team hits the field against UCLA this Saturday, the team will be donning special uniforms in honor of the impact made by Polynesians on the program.
The Ducks will be wearing special ‘Ohana’ uniforms which were designed in collaboration by Sig Zane designs’ Kuha’o Zane and the Nike design team.
The uniform combination includes a helmet, jersey, and pants that feature many aspects to Polynesian culture including a starry night photograph that wraps around the helmet with designs on the iconic helmet wing that are synonymous with Hawaiian art.
Zane, who is the son of Sig Zane and wife, Nalani Kanakaole, who opened the doors to Sig Zane Designs in 1985. Their mission was to educate and share what they knew about their culture
“Nike wanted to figure out a way for the Oregon Ducks to be able to honor some of their Polynesian players like Marcus (Mariota) of course, so I think that was the initial discussion,” Kuhao told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
“That’s how the opportunity started and when it comes down to the Oregon Ducks, we wanted to definitely pull upon the heritage of our Polynesian players as well as their roots and lineage, but I think what’s more important is also too the fact that they have to leave their homes and be able to start a new family up in Oregon so there’s a lot of different elements in play.”
Earlier in the week, the Ducks program announced that the coaching staff would be wearing ‘Ohana’ themed apparel for the UCLA game as merchandise was made available for purchase. Oregon’s game against UCLA will be the third of the modified season which was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is believed that the Ducks were going to wear the uniforms in their originally scheduled third game of the 2020 schedule which was slated to be the University of Hawaii, but all non-conference games were canceled.
For Zane, it was an honor to be a part of the project and allowed the chance to use his creativity to celebrate Polynesian culture.
Among the details incorporated:
- A woven pattern signifying “experience” was utilized on the wings adorning the helmet, the Oregon logo and the jersey numerals. The pattern calls to mind a sinew rope, blending together the experiences of many into a single, strong strand.
- The neckline features a pattern radiating down the front of the jersey, calling to mind feather cloaks worn by Hawaiian nobility for ceremonies or battle. The pattern is green nearest to the neck line, invoking a green lei.
- The helmet and gloves feature a galaxy of stars including the Southern Cross, a constellation used to aid oceanic navigation in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Arm sleeves available to the players include imagery at the wrist signifying togetherness. That detail is a nod to bangles adorned by dancers of the Hula, the traditional means of coming together and communicating the history and values of pan-Polynesian cultures.
“First of all there was the way finding and the navigation that of course is a Polynesian root and is something that Polynesians are proud of as well as Hawaiians are proud of especially with Hokulea’s last sail. Then on top of that we wanted to be able to bring in some of these essential factors in the canoe, like as a canoe you have to be able to paddle as one, and I think all of these values are all team values that is something that speaks more universally and globally,” said Zane. “On top of that at the end is, no matter where these recruits come from, no matter if it’s other rural counties in America or if it’s from Hawaii or Samoa, I think that each of these players have to build a new family when they come to Oregon so the last portion is that ‘ohana factor and to be able to build that new family moving forward in life.”
With artistry and design in the family bloodline, Zane has had a celebrated career and has seen his work on many different platforms, fabrics, and canvases but on a college football field and working with a brand like Nike, has been an awe inspiring experience.
“Beyond my wildest dreams. I got to thank the design team at Nike because they definitely enabled a lot of those dreams to be able to come to fruition to even happen. Just like you said, the stars on that photo was taken by a native Hawaiian photographer and we used his image to be able to wrap the stars on the helmet to really speak to that idea of navigation. That’s to some of the points in the design that I can’t wait to see them running onto the field with, because I think this is a step that really proves that Hawaiian design can standout there in the global playing field.”
The Ducks will debut the uniform on the field against UCLA on Saturday, kickoff is set for 10:00 am HST on ESPN2. There are currently six Hawaii natives on the Oregon roster.