The Miami Heat’s “Vice” jersey line has been as eye-catching in the marketplace as the pink on the jerseys.
On May 14, 2023, the Heat defeated the Philadelphia 76ers at home. This was not only the last home game day of the regular season for the Heat, but also the finale of the “Vice” jersey series. If nothing else, the Heat will not be wearing the jerseys during the playoffs.
In the 2017-18 season, Nike’s Heat jersey sponsorship contract with the NBA came into effect. In addition to the home and away versions of the jerseys, Nike will also introduce city versions of the jerseys each season that incorporate elements such as city aliases and iconic landscapes.
The change in NBA jersey sponsorship led to the creation of the Heat’s “Vice” jersey line. In designing the 2017-18 city jerseys, the Heat decided to pay homage to the team’s original home, Miami Arena, by using white as the main color of the jerseys, accented with peach and lake blue, and naming the collection “Vice”.
Although the Heat’s “Vice” jersey line has become the best-selling city edition in the league over the past few years, the Heat had no idea the line would be such a hit when it debuted. After all, at the start of the 2017-18 season, the team’s top salary was still Hassan Whiteside, and Bam Adebayo was just an unknown rookie, so the “Vice” jersey line lacked a player with enough name recognition to The “Vice” jersey line lacked a player with enough name recognition to carry the merchandise.
In January 2018, Heat executive vice president and chief marketing officer Michael McCullough had just attended the NBA’s annual retail product launch and was anxiously awaiting how fans would react when they saw the “Vice” jersey line.
To McCullough’s surprise, the “Vice” jersey line was a hit with fans right after it was released. “I thought there was a mistake and the jersey sales went up like crazy. I was talking to the team about the sales figures and calling Nike to order more jerseys.” McCullough recalled in an interview with The Undefeated.
McCullough’s decision to place additional orders proved to be a wise one, as the Heat’s City Edition jerseys sold more copies in the 2017-18 season than the other 29 teams’ City Edition jerseys combined.
In addition to the design, the timely return of Dwyane Wade, the soul of the team, has further boosted sales of the “Vice” jersey line.
Miami fans welcomed back the soul of the team when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to trade Wade to the Heat for the 2017-18 season. The trade was completed in the middle of the season, and the Heat did not have a city edition jersey for Wade. In order for Wade to wear the “Vice” jersey in his first game back with the team, the team placed an expedited order with a jersey manufacturer in Portland. After the jerseys were printed, the manufacturer sent someone to fly directly to Miami with the jerseys and eventually made it in time for Wade’s first game back.
In that game, Wade came off the bench to help end the team’s five-game losing streak, and to further enhance the commemorative significance of that city edition jersey. “Miami fans already had a connection to the City Edition jersey, and with everyone loving Wade, his return has injected even more life into the ‘Vice’ jersey line.” Heat graphic designer Brett Maurer said to The Undefeated.
What’s more, sales of the “Vice” jersey line are not affected by the team’s record, which is certainly good news for the Heat.
Between 2010 and 2014, when the Heat reached the Finals four years in a row and won two championships, a total of 190,000 jerseys were sold. And between 2018 and 2023, the Heat only made it to the Finals once and didn’t win a title, but sold 245,000 jerseys in those four ye
And despite the ups and downs of the Heat’s record this season, sales of the “Vice” jersey line have remained strong. In December 2020, for example, sales of the Heat’s city edition jersey “ViceVersa” reached $2.1 million, a third of the NBA’s total jersey sales for that month.
“Historically, it’s the player’s fame that determines the league’s jersey sales ranking each year. But our ‘Vice’ jersey line proves that good jersey designs work just as well as popular players, and both can drive jersey sales.” Heat vice president Jennifer Alvarez said in an interview with The Undefeated.
Classic moments from the “Vice” jersey collection.
After the success of the “Vice” jersey series in 2017-18, the Heat launched the “Vice Nights”, “Sunset Vice”, “ViceWave” and “ViceVersa” jerseys in the next four seasons. The Heat have launched four city edition jerseys in the next four seasons: “Vice Nights”, “Sunset Vice”, “ViceWave” and “ViceVersa”.
From the point of view of jersey design, these seasons “Vice” series in the use of color more and more bold, from the beginning of the common white, black transition to the uncommon pink and dark blue, this season is to do a pink and dark blue interwoven gradient models jersey, jersey production process more and more complex. The Heat have completely “let themselves go” when designing the city version of the jersey, free from the constraints of the main color of the team logo. In addition, the Heat are the first team in the NBA to use pink as the main color of their jerseys.
For this season’s gradient city version of the jersey, ESPN reporter Zach Lowe has reported that the Heat want fans to see different colors of the jersey when watching the game from different angles, and they like the idea.
The Heat’s boldness has helped the “Vice” jersey line make a name for itself, as evidenced by sales. Such a unique and eye-catching color scheme clearly captures the hearts of young fans, in line with their flamboyant and curious personalities. At the same time, these colors fit in well with the “Sin City” atmosphere of Miami’s South Beach, which also has a certain appeal to local residents.
On the other hand, the boundary between color and gender has become increasingly blurred in recent years, and the combination of men and pink is becoming a fashion trend, with many sports brands starting to offer pink products for their male customers. Therefore, with the market having completed consumer education, the “Vice” jersey series is more acceptable to fans and consumers.
With the popularity of the “Vice” jersey line, the acceptance of the gradient jerseys has increased for some teams, such as the Utah Jazz. In the past few seasons, the Jazz have adopted the gradient design for their city edition jerseys. From this perspective, the bold design of the “Vice” jersey collection has implications for other teams’ jersey design ideas.
Butler’s shoes in the “Vice” color scheme.
In addition to enhancing the Heat’s own brand value, the influence of the “Vice” jersey line can also be radiated to other brands. Jimmy Butler, the Heat’s star, is the face of Li Ning, and the color scheme of the game shoes often echoes the colors of the jerseys. So naturally, Li Ning also prepared the “Vice” color scheme for Butler’s sneakers. Compared to the common color scheme of sneakers, the “Vice” color scheme is more special and eye-catching, which has significantly increased its buzz and market popularity, and the resale price on the second-hand market is much higher than the offer price.
For the Heat, it took courage to end a hot jersey line, but it was the popularity of the “Vice” jersey line that gave them more confidence. “We’re not trying to go beyond the ‘Vice’ jersey line, we’re trying to continue our brand. This season’s City jerseys also include elements that have never been used before.” McCullough revealed to Yahoo Sports.