Teams will debut completely redesigned kits at Women's World Cup

When the Women's World Cup players hit the field in France on Friday, they'll be outfitted in their own brand-new uniforms. And for the most part, that will be a first. In the past, the major athletic companies made the women's uniforms as versions of their country's men's teams. But not this year.

"The female players have demanded they pay more attention, and they have finally risen to the occasion," said Vanessa Friedman, the director of fashion for the New York Times.

Nike, which designed uniforms (known as kits) for 14 teams, took into account necklines that can easily be pulled over ponytails. Adidas, which worked with four teams, conducted surveys and focus groups and spent hours meeting face to face with the players.

"We directly asked them about design preferences, not just color and shapes in general, but the fit they like," said Linn Sickert, senior designer for Adidas' football apparel. She said that this year's looks were years in the making.

"We adapted the tailored fit because the feedback was, it was too tailored before, so they wanted it more straight for better movement and also shorter sleeves," she explained of the players' requests.

Friedman, who has written about World Cup fashion, said at a time when the U.S. women's team sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination and fought for equal pay, the players getting their own jerseys makes sense.

"The idea that 2019 is the first year that the Women's World Cup gets their own specific jerseys is kind of mind-blowing if you think about it," she said.

This year's kits take into account form, function, and fashion, too. France's team, which worked with Nike, chose polka dots for its away uniform. England, also with Nike, chose a muted floral pattern. And for Sweden's kit, by Adidas, the numbers on the back of the jerseys feature a collage of female role models the team selected.

"That's a really very direct statement about female power and female kinship," Friedman said.

The women's jerseys will be available for fans to buy, and in many cases in men's versions, too. Nike started doing that in the 2015 World Cup in 2015 and will continue this year.