Do We Actually Need Themed Cheerleading Uniforms?

by Guest Author
spirit of Texas a-team at the cheerleading worlds 2015

The industry’s biggest and most known teams have significant influence over athletes, gyms, and coaches worldwide – and what they do, others will follow. Whether you love them or hate them, themed uniforms are widely popular in the cheerleading industry and they seem to be here to stay.

While some argue that these uniforms contribute to making a themed routine more spectacular and showy – producing new uniforms for each season, and sometimes more than one uniform per season, is damaging to our planet. 

This post was created by a guest author. Any information and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not reflect our views. Want to be a guest author? Here’s how.

The environmental impact 

In today’s society, where we are constantly being fed with environmental talks and sustainability, it is easy to look the other way and just continue as normal. However, it is time for our beloved sport and industry to take responsibility and realize that we too can contribute to a better planet.

Buying and producing themed uniforms, that are only worn for one season, is not sustainable in the long run. 

As with any other sportswear, cheerleading uniforms need to be breathable for the athletes to be able to perform their best, which is why sportswear often contains polyester – a fabric with breathable and cooling qualities.

However, producing polyester is tough on the planet. Not only is it highly energy-demanding, but when being washed in a washing machine, microplastics (basically these tiny bits of plastic) are being released. They then end up in the environment, which actively damages our oceans and ultimately ourselves.

Since polyester does not have the qualities to keep itself odorless, it tends to be washed more, and thereby the cycle of damaging our oceans continues. 

Responses from the industry 

In a survey sent out via TheCheerBuzz’s newsletter to help gather insights, athletes, coaches, and parents were asked a set of questions about what they do with old uniforms that are no longer in use. Here are a few insights:

  • With over 170 responses, more than 50% get new uniforms less than every other season, and 44% get new uniforms every other season. Commonly, old uniforms get passed down to other teams which is great, instead of buying new ones for every team.
  • The majority of respondents personally buy their uniforms from their gym. 80% then keep the uniform for memories, while 20% re-sell, donate, or throw out their uniform.
  • About 59% of coach & gym owner respondents consider environmental and ethical aspects when purchasing uniforms. However, it is not a sustainable option for many, as highlighted in this response: “There are only so many uniform companies that my kids can barely afford. If they aren’t sustainable, we have nowhere else to turn to. We use the same uniforms for 4 years to help with the cost, not the planet unfortunately.”

Other responses also truly showcase the money issue; many athletes can barely afford uniforms as it is, and gyms need to save as much money as possible. That means turning to sustainable fabrics is basically impossible. To solve that issue, many gyms use their uniforms for as many seasons as possible to make good use of their money, but durable fabrics are often out of the question. 

Image from the 2024 Varsity All Star Fashion Design Book.

What can be done?

When researching for this article, there wasn’t much specific information available about this. I reached out to both Varsity Brands and Rebel Athletic for insights, but as of now, no response has been received from either company.

There is some useful information and ideas from Varsity on the topic, but there isn’t much else to go on:

  • Varsity Spirit’s “RE:action” initiative is a great example of what our industry needs to do; take action and lead by example by actively trying to reduce our impact on the climate. By using alternative materials and fabrics, we as a community can reduce our negative impact on the planet and instead choose sustainable materials.
  • Varsity also released a statement in 2020, titeled “Eco-Friendly Fashion”, where they brought up environmental efforts: “As a part of the Eco Spirit initiative, the fashion teams have been making a conscious effort to lead the way with new eco-friendly techniques and fabrics, reducing waste and reusing recycled materials to create cheer and dance apparel that teams can feel good in and feel good about.”

However, sustainable materials are often more expensive, and it might be difficult for smaller gyms that may have less money to include these materials in their uniforms. A larger gym, if they have the means for it, can invest in sustainably produced uniforms and lead by example so that our sport can show that something can be done about the mass production that actively damages the world we live in. 

When buying new uniforms, we have to keep in mind that it does affect the planet. To be mindful about what you buy and staying away from something that can only be worn for a very short time, is helping our sport become environmentally conscious. 


So, do we need themed uniforms? No. No, we don’t. A routine can still have a spectacular theme without having uniforms to match that can only be worn for one season and then never again. Regular uniforms that can be worn for several seasons are the way to go, not only to reduce the cost for athletes and gyms but also to reduce the cheerleading industry’s impact on the climate. 

This post was created by a guest author. Any information and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not reflect our views. Want to be a guest author? Here’s how.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

* GDPR: By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

Never miss what's happening

Get the latest cheerleading news straight to your inbox – every Monday!


Trusted by 3,000+ readers. Totally free.


TheCheerBuzz is a cheerleading media company all about providing fun and interesting content to everyone who loves cheer. A place where everyone – no matter the level, gym, age or gender feels represented and appreciated.

©2024 TheCheerBuzz – All Rights Reserved.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.