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Stop Calling Adidas NHL Jerseys Authentic

Adidas NHL jerseys aren't authentic

Whether it’s deceptive and unethical business practices, ruining sports merchandising, or running secondary sites that sell counterfeit merchandise, I’ve spent a lot of time calling out Fanatics. However, the time has come to direct that ire towards Adidas and the NHL. Any TealTownUSA follower knows a few of us here are jersey geeks. Hockey jerseys are simply one of the coolest things in sports. But for the love of all things NHL, it’s time for Adidas to make the pro stock jerseys players wear available for fans to buy at retail outlets. Since Adidas is readying a new jersey production process based on the 2019 All Star Parlay jersey, it’s also time to stop referring to the jerseys they currently sell in stores and online as “authentic”.

Adidas Authentic Pro Jersey

How It Started

Prior to 2007, there were only 2 types of jerseys available for fans to purchase in stores. You had the choice of an authentic, which meant the same stock as what players wear on the ice, or you could purchase a replica. This was the same in baseball, too. As you may expect, authentic jerseys are a tad roomier since they’re designed to be used with equipment whereas replicas are a little more form fitting. But when you saw the jerseys side-by-side, generally the only way to discern one from the other was authentic jerseys have a fight strap and elbow stitching. The nameplate, numbers, and patches were the same between both as you can see in the photos below. Click on the images for large versions.

Replica – bottom | Authentic – top Replica – left | Authentic – right

 

In 2007, after teams used a revolving door of jersey company names such as Maska, CCM, Koho, Nike, etc…, Reebok’s purchase of The Hockey Company led to all jerseys being Reebok branded. In 2017, that deal rolled over to Adidas despite the fact that Adidas owns Reebok. However, when that 2007 Reebok announcement was made, Reebok unveiled what’s known as Reebok Edge 1.0 and it was considered pro stock. However, two months into the ’07-’08 season, players complained that the jersey material, with its Scotchguard-like ways, soaked skates and gloves with sweat. It forced Reebok to create Edge 2.0 in Canada. However 1.0 remained available to fans and is how “Indo-edge” apparently came to exist, giving fans 3 levels of jerseys to now choose from:

  • Reebok replica (aka premier)
  • Reebok retail authentic (aka Indo-Authentic, due to being made in Indonesia)
  • Reebok pro stock (what the players actually wear, aka MiC or Made in Canada)

The problem for jersey hounds is that the retail authentic jerseys replaced pro stock in stores. Suddenly, fans could no longer get what the players wear unless they find them on auction sites or at equipment sales.

Reebok replica vs retail authentic vs pro stock

Obvious shortcuts were taken when Reebok rolled out their replica jerseys in 2007. The beautifully embroidered shoulder patches were replaced with cheap looking plastic decals, as seen in the photo below. The material of the replicas are also noticeably lighter and thinner than the retail “authentic” and pro stock jerseys. The Reebok replica model, called “premier”, is essentially what Fanatics currently calls “breakaway”. It’s basically a nice way to say “cheap”.

Aside from the ridiculously inferior plastic shoulder markers, the Reebok premier replica jerseys are actually quite comfortable, consistent and, in my opinion, far better than the Fanatics replicas and Adidas “authentic” jerseys made today. In my opinion, Reebok replicas were better quality and fit than current Adidas “authentic” jerseys. And for half the price of a Reebok retail authentic, you got a quality jersey that you weren’t worried about spilling beer on. In the photos below, you can see the three different jersey styles. Notice how the premier material is different from the retail authentic and pro stock. However, when you compare the retail authentic to the pro stock, there’s not much difference, and all 3 have a comparable fit.

While I maintain retail authentic jerseys were, and remain, unnecessary, at least the feel and fit of Reebok is very close to pro stock.

Premier | Indo-Authentic | Pro Stock Premier | Indo-Authentic | Pro Stock

 

While the Reebok retail authentics were good quality, they still weren’t the same as what the players wore. It appears Reebok was trying to combine the best of both worlds, marrying the pro stock quality with replica fit. However, the $299 starting point was tough for some to stomach when it wasn’t the same as what the players wear. Especially when you could buy 2 replicas for the same price as 1 retail authentic.

Adidas vs Fanatics

A whole different story began in 2017 after Adidas took over. When Reebok was producing both the retail authentic and premier replica jerseys, the prices were $299 and $149, respectively, and the fit across all versions was consistent. Today, Fanatics produces replica jerseys for the NHL while Adidas offers an “authentic”. But now that Adidas and Fanatics are competing for your dollar, the price difference is much narrower at $129 for Fanatics and $179 for Adidas. And the quality of each jersey has dropped significantly along with those prices.

Fanatics-produced jerseys are nowhere near the same as the real deal. Some fans prefer the Fanatics replica, claiming it’s a better fit and made from a softer material. After trying one on, I can confirm it does feel softer. As for fit, there are wild inconsistencies, but that seems to be the case with nearly all Fanatics-branded apparel. The Fanatics replicas aren’t horrible as long as whoever does the heat pressing of the name and numbers knows what they’re doing. But they often look more like sweatshirts than jerseys due to their graphic sublimation process. The Fanatics replicas also don’t feature the dimples on the shoulders or the shiny chrome NHL shield on the collar.

Unfortunately, retail authentic Adidas jerseys aren’t much better than Fanatics. While the fit is generally more consistent with Adidas, the problem is the cut is nowhere near pro stock. As seen in the images below, the neck hole and waistline are far wider than pro stock and are NOT flattering to the wearer. Another issue Adidas has is material thickness. Adidas retail authentics, initially called Adizero, then Climalite, and eventually AeroReady, are about half the thickness of an actual pro stock jersey. I suppose that’s why so many of their models are wearing hoodies in their marketing images… because the neck holes are so large and the jerseys are so thin.

Heritage comp Reverse Retro comp
Made in Canada – top | Made in Indonesia – bottom Made in Canada – top | Made in Indonesia – bottom

Reebok retail authentic vs Adidas retail authentic

Adidas has also taken little shortcuts in quality in order to compete in price. Have a look at this comparison photo, the Reebok Indo-authentic on the left and the Adidas Indo-authentic on the right.

San Jose Sharks 30th Anniversary logo

In the image, you can see the Reebok jersey features a fully embroidered patch while the Adidas jersey has a piece of twill with some detail embroidery over the top of it. In my opinion, the fully embroidered patch looks much classier and more professional. Also, while you can’t see it from the photo, the Reebok jersey is much heavier than the Adidas version and just feels to be a higher quality. It’s almost like comparing a sweatshirt to a t-shirt. During the Reebok era, the pre-made Sharks jerseys also used tackle twill names and numbers while jerseys that come straight from Adidas through their online store or NHLShop.com feature cheap vinyl kits.

Adidas retail authentic vs Adidas pro stock

Now let’s take a look at an Adidas retail authentic next to the pro stock players wear.

Made in Indonesia – bottom | Made in Canada – top Made in Indonesia – left | Made in Canada – right

 

You can immediately notice the difference in the shoulder dimples. The overall quality and look is so much better with the pro stock. The material and stitching of the made-in-Canada pro stock is also leaps and bounds ahead of the Indonesian-made “authentic”. Sadly, the retail authentic jerseys that Adidas sells look and feel closer to knockoffs from China than pro stock, as you can see in the comparison photo below.

Stealth comp 3
Made in Canada – top | Made in Indonesia – middle | Fake knockoff – bottom

Stop Calling Your Jerseys “Authentic” And Give Us Pro Stock!

I reached out to Adidas to get their response as to why the sizing, fit, and materials of the made-in-Indonesia jerseys are so vastly different from their pro stock counterparts. While politely declining to discuss these concerns, the response was “it is our standard policy to not comment on product strategy at this granular of a level”. That response seems like a cop out to me. I think fans that spend their hard-earned cash collecting jerseys deserve to know why their retail “authentic” jerseys are such poor quality when compared to Reebok and why pro stock jerseys aren’t available in retail channels.

There’s no reason Adidas can’t make pro stock jerseys available to fans just as it was prior to 2007. It’s understandable that Adidas wants to offer a jersey at a price point competitive with Fanatics, but it’s disingenuous and misleading for Adidas to call them “authentic” or “authentic pro”.  At the end of the day, Adidas needs to call those jerseys what they are… replicas. And Adidas needs to give fans the option of buying pro stock jerseys again.

For another comparison breakdown between Fanatics, Indonesia-made, and Canada-made, check out these photos at Liberty Bell Jerseys.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Tyler

    June 29, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you for saying it. I agree with all of it. It’s a shame what is being turned out at authentic these days

    • AJ Strong

      June 29, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      Just give people the option of buying pro stock!

  2. Bob

    June 30, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Apart from initial designs + R&D, Adidas doesn’t actually make any of the NHL jerseys. They are essentially sponsors and subcontract the pro-stock manufacturing to SP / 3B hockey in Canada (your old Maska, CCM, Reebok, etc.). Not much they can do about the replicas / fan-wear because it is all licensed through the NHL exclusively to Fanatics.

    • AJ Strong

      June 30, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Solid info. The point remains that pro stock jerseys need to be available for fans to purchase.

  3. Alan Killen

    July 2, 2021 at 8:54 am

    How about manufacturing all the jerseys in Canada again, and go back to either a choice of Airknit or Ultrafil style models. The dimple shoulder ones are trash.

  4. Alan Killen

    July 2, 2021 at 8:58 am

    How about they make all the jerseys in Canada again, and go back to either a choice of Ultrafil and Airknit style jerseys. The dimpled shoulder ones are straight up trash.

  5. Darius Naro

    July 8, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    So are “Made in Canada” jerseys better than “Made in Indonesia” jerseys. After reading this article which was very interesting to read BTW, I found out that all of my authentic jerseys are in fact made in Indonesia. This explains why my shoulder dimples are so small, yet they claim to be truly authentic but apparently, they are not. Hmmmmm, so this is saying that the existing authentic jerseys from Indonesia are similar to knock-offs?

    • AJ Strong

      July 8, 2021 at 5:02 pm

      Players only wear Made in Canada jerseys so there is a significant quality difference between them and the Indonesian made ones. Fit and feel is subjective and if you like your Indonesian jerseys, that’s great. The point of my article though was that fans should be afforded the choice of buying the same stock that players wear.

      Personally, I have Made in Canada, Made in Indonesia, and knockoff jerseys from China as you can see in the bottom photo in the article. Sadly, the Indo made jerseys by Adidas are much more comparable to the knockoffs than pro stock. If you’re local to the San Jose area, head to the shop at Solar4America ice and compare an Indo jersey to one of the MiC practice jerseys they have. You will notice a big difference in fit and feel.

  6. Daniel Roberts

    October 15, 2021 at 2:18 am

    Damn fine article mate! It’s irked me beyond belief that you can only buy a worn jersey if you want truly authentic.They would be expensive for sure but those of us willing to spend our hard earned money should have the opportunity. I can see some possible proprietary reasons but to not have a real MIC (or USA) high quality jersey is ridiculous.

    Im going to set an email schedule to automatically send Adidas every month! A nice and polite correspondence urging them to rethink their jersey policy. Cheers…

  7. Brian Decker

    January 19, 2022 at 12:15 am

    I think the twill screen print numbers are super cheap. paying 250+ for a jersey and its not even 2 different stitched layers? come on… Also, what is the deal with these “authentic” jerseys when you cant even buy the players jerseys with the “A” who are alternate captains. How is that Athentic? Malkin has an “A” on his jersey! I dont want a Malkin jersey that isnt correct.. I was looking at the Penguins NHL Shop, and neither Malkin nor Letang had an “A” on their jersey. Granted on a few jerseys, you could go full custom and add which ever letter to whichever player jersey, but not on every jersey. Id be pissed if i was losing sales on something that simple.. why is it so hard to make a replica correctly? Yet every Crosby Jersey has a “C”… WTF? Just something ive noticed that bugs the shit out of me… your thoughts?..

    • AJ Strong

      January 19, 2022 at 9:11 am

      Completely agree. The fact that Fanatic constantly sends out incorrect orders (wrong team, wrong size, etc) and then expects the recipient to pay to have it shipped back is insane. The only thing fans can do is to never order from a Fanatics site and never purchase something made by Fanatics. Bombarding gbettman@nhl.com with emails of your story might not hurt either. Between their awful product quality, boring and homogenized designs, misleading advertising, and poor inventory management, at some point the leagues have to realize they’re losing sales.

      If only Axios, 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC, Last Week Tonight or some other national outlet would shine a spotlight on this.

  8. Tyler Smit

    January 29, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    Just want to say how much I appreciate this article. It gives great and specific information that can help answer many buyer’s questions. It’s definitely helping me weigh my options. Thanks for writing something like this, it’s helping a lot of people out!

    • AJ Strong

      January 29, 2022 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. We appreciate the feedback.

  9. Darius Naro

    January 31, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    After reading your reply to my comment I couldn’t agree more. Canadian pro-stock should be available for fans.

  10. Tyler S

    February 2, 2022 at 5:19 am

    This is a super helpful article. Being from Seattle and new to following the NHL, I had no idea the “indo-authentic” jerseys weren’t the real deal. That being said, I went to a Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) game several years back and remember the jerseys being a lot more expensive and heavier feeling. That being said I don’t feel so bad knowing I only paid $185 for a full custom indo when the same in Fanatics is $169.

    This isn’t just an NHL problem, though. Most pro sports don’t let you buy exactly what the players have. NFL jerseys, made by Nike, have three tiers available to fans: Game, Limited, and Elite (low to high). Even the Elite line is not quite what the players wear, material and fit wise. MLB is the same way in some cases. I learned years ago that different teams had different styles. For example, my old authentic Mariners jersey (Russell Athletic) was very good quality, but the tails were of a length bast suited for being left untucked, as a fan would wear it. A few years later, I went to Fenway and got a Red Sox jersey (Majestic). This was a true on-field. The tail was much longer, so it would stay tucked in. It was also a bit more expensive than my M’s jersey, and the sleeves were cut to extend all the way to the neck, whereas the M’s jerseys were cut more like a vest, and the sleeves attached at the shoulder. The MLB jerseys have only gotten cheaper in quality. Most teams have done away with nameplates in favor of stitching names directly to the shirt, which IMO looks cheap, as that’s how the old knockoffs were.

    Finally, Fanatics is trash. They’re an e-commerce company that took over management of all the major sports leagues’ merch websites, and now they’ve leveraged that to get licensing for apparel production. Only problem is they aren’t good at apparel production. Their products just aren’t good quality. But they have a near monopoly on what’s available to buy, so it’s often them or nothing. I’m with you. Fans should be able to buy the pro stock gear at whatever price it needs to be. Beyond that, from an ethical standpoint, I’d rather buy something made in Canada over something made by exploited people in Indonesia. With all this talk of green, recycled, blah blah material, how about ethical labor?

  11. J

    April 14, 2022 at 11:48 pm

    Great points, however fans are not NHL players nor will they ever be NHL players. So just because someone has the money and that’s how they did things before is a reason to allow fans to have the same jerseys the NHL players wear? Sorry but not sorry here. NHL player deserve to have their OWN jerseys.

    • AJ Strong

      April 18, 2022 at 12:56 pm

      I respectfully disagree. As it stands now, some hockey teams do sell their pro stock jerseys for fans that want them. While I believe that fans should have the option, the article was more about Adidas referring to the jerseys they sell at retail channels as authentic. Calling them “authentic” is misleading to fans that are unaware of the difference and think they’re buying what the players wear.

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