The UK Creative Mind Behind Team USA’s Jerseys

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A Q&A with Emre Gultekin, Mizuno graphic designer and the creator of the 2015 U.S. National Team jerseys

A close-up shot of the message on the inside of the U.S. National Team jersey collars.

Emre Gultekin is a U.K.-based teamwear graphic designer for Mizuno and the creator of the 2015 U.S. National Team jerseys. In this brief Q&A, Gultekin explains the inspiration behind the jerseys and shares the feelings he hope to evoke.

Volleyball mag: How did you become interested in sportswear design?

Emre Gultekin: I can clearly remember watching the European Football Championship and the 1984 Summer Olympics and totally falling in love with the athletes’ uniforms. During my childhood, I often drew athletes’ uniforms and I followed many international sport tournaments. I studied textile and graphic design at university in Turkey and worked as a graphic designer at various companies before landing my current job with Mizuno.

VBM: Where did you look for inspiration when faced with the task of designing the U.S. National Team jerseys?

EG: Mizuno has a very strong relationship with the USA Volleyball teams, and the past jersey designs were outstanding. Therefore, I was a bit intimidated by the task of trying to create better designs. I did a lot of research about volleyball jerseys, and I created a garment layout. I wanted the jerseys to be comfortable but have some innovative design elements. I collected all the relevant information I could find about the U.S. volleyball teams, such as the most successful times, unforgettable moments, and achievements. I used these valuable insights with recognizable symbols of the U.S. as inspiration, and from there I came up the design concept. I wanted to capture the national elements of the U.S., to express USA pride and power.

VBM: What differentiates this year’s uniforms from the ones the team has worn in past years?

EG: The previous uniforms were all outstanding with innovative design elements and graphics. They were leading and future-thinking designs. They screamed, “I am Mizuno and I am the best brand in volleyball apparel.” However, there was no emotional connection with the team.

The 2015 uniforms are full of national design elements such as a beautiful star pattern and motivational saying inside the collar. The 2015 uniform says, “I am not only the best brand, I am purely and proudly an American.”

VBM: Describe some of the subtle details you included in the uniforms that fans may not notice from up in the stands or when watching the team on TV.

EG: The first detail is inside the back collar. This is a printed motto: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” This can be seen by players in the changing room before they get dressed. I hope I motivated them with this message.

The second element is the flag graphic on back collar.

And the last one is the most striking one: the star graphic on the body of the jersey. Half of the star can be seen on the front and the other half on the back, so when you look at the uniforms carefully you can see a full star on the player. This highlights that every player is a star and is an American.

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