When the Iowa Hawkeyes take the field against Iowa State Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, they will be wearing throwback uniforms created by Powers Manufacturing on Sycamore Street in Waterloo.
"This uniform was a unique project. Greg Morris, who is the Head Equipment Manager at Iowa, came to Waterloo back in February and said, 'Hey, I've got a project that we'd like to emulate: 1921-22, and he gave me a few pictures, and they were really different. In 1921-22, the pictures we were looking at, the athlete had longer sleeves back then, and what appeared to be half-circles made out of leather," Powers Vice President of Sales and Marketing Scott Klieman said.
Powers makes athletic uniforms for the University of Iowa, UNI and many other collegiate athletic programs. Powers is a 4th-generation family business with about 125 employees.
"Working with Greg at Iowa, we decided that leather is probably going to be too heavy for this application. We want the kids and the athletes to have performance fabric. So, we took performance stretch mesh and high tenacity cordra, and then, sublimated the design of those leather pieces and then applied tackle-tool lettering over the top. Which was the lettering decoration that they probably went with, or something like that, back in 1921-22. So, we've got something that emulates that era, but yet, is contemporary with today's fit, utilizing today's technical fabrics," Klieman said.
Special uniform orders like the Hawkeye throwbacks are common for Powers Manufacturing. They even handle some orders for Nike.
"We get those pretty regularly. You've seen the Oregon situation, where they're coming out with a new uniform almost every week, and some of the other universities are certainly trying to keep up. Air Force created a stealth bomber design on their shoulder. I have dabbled in and done some NHL Hockey jerseys. Had a nice project we've done with the Black Hawks of recent. So, we're really thrilled to be involved and glad that we get the opportunity to do something that's completely different and really out of our comfort zone and ends up turning out to be pretty cool," Klieman said.
Part of what makes Powers so unique is their ability to make every part of the uniform from start to finish. They have machines that can knit fabric that will stretch in every direction, the foundation of many of the high performance uniforms. They can make their own trim, like the trim used down the side of baseball uniform pants.
The fabrics and trim are washed and dried to ensure the colors don't bleed and to account for any shrinkage.
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