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Riding the sustainability wave with Sounders and Parley

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The newest Sounders drip is made of ocean plastic.

MLS

The Seattle Sounders will be rocking a PRIMEBLUE jersey, the latest incarnation of the Adidas x Parley and MLS project. This will be the fourth year of the collaboration, and the Sounders have been included each year. “The jersey is made with 50% Parley Ocean plastic — upcycled plastic waste intercepted on shorelines and coastal areas.”

This year’s edition of the jerseys features a design that’s not too different from the one the Sounders wore on their home kits in 2018 and 2019. The updated version of the sponge paint brush design, particularly rendered in shades of blue, has the effect of looking a bit like churning water, an appropriate vibe for a jersey made with the ocean in mind. The fact that the design covers the front and back, with only the yoke and sleeves not featuring the pattern, is a huge plus. The orange-ish red used on the shoulder stripes and the crest and logos works well with the two shades of blue (or blue and cyan, if you’re nasty).

The jersey’s good, it would probably be a great addition to your closet. The mission behind them is great, too, and seems well worth the support. By all accounts, the Parley jerseys wear really well, too! They’re comfortable and are easy to clean, to say nothing of how good you’re certain to look. The Parley kit isn’t the only special shirt you could choose to rep the Sounders right now, though. MLS, as part of the league’s Soccer For All week released the “Love Unites” training tops. “Love Unites” is the global campaign from Adidas to promote equity in sports and the idea that love of sports is a connecting force.

MLS Digital

These Pride-adjacent shirts are, well, I’ll say interesting. Tie-dye has been a pretty popular trend for a while, so it makes sense for the league to get on board. Pride month is June, and tie-dye feels perfectly appropriate for the summer, so the combination makes sense, and even the “Love Unites” text on the back has cool ‘70s band tee vibes. The execution of this one, though, leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. The overall size and fit, coupled with the way the tie-dye design was done gives it less of a band-tour shirt look and makes it feel more like the Summer camp shirt you got when you were 11 and they only ordered one size that was big enough to fit everyone. To make matters worse, by doing the tie-dye in a sort of gradient, if you happen to tuck the shirt like the person in the picture you entirely lose the rainbow effect.

With the lack of a clear connection to Pride, the ambiguity of the rainbow, and the corporate blandness of names like “Soccer For All” and “Love Unites,” it’s hard not to feel like the commercialization of efforts like Pride month and even something like the Parley jerseys diminishes the actual value of the thing itself. These feel like half-measures, particularly in a time when climate change isn’t slowing down and we feel the impacts more severely and more frequently, and states and athletic organizations are actively failing trans and non-binary people around the world. The Parley kits are a league-wide initiative, but the Sounders should be pushing to make them (or something like them) a more permanent part of their offerings if they want to make an impact beyond simply being able to claim to be a carbon-neutral club. That’s to say nothing of their involvement in the league’s new NFT venture. The Sounders have made genuine efforts to embrace and be an active part of their community, but they could be doing more on these fronts, and they should be pushing the league to do more as well. Maybe they should reach out to OL Reign and Lu Barnes for some ideas. We all love fashion and style, but those things should also be directly tied to sustainability and unambiguous inclusion.