The Mid Range x HVS
Posted on October 13 2019
#11: It’s Fashion Week ft. 19nine
The High Volume Shooters teamed up with the gang at "The Mid Range" to put together this blog. If you guys aren't following them please do so today. You can sign up for their newsletter and read blog posts similar to this one at https://themidrange.co/. We look forward to joining JD and Carter on more blog posts in the future assuming they'll have us and we also will get them on our 19nine Podcast soon. We hope you enjoy...
J.D. Crabtree: Carter, can you hear that? Listen closely. Yes, that is the sound of Team USA deboarding their return flight from China. And while they didn’t bring back precious medals, they brought something else upon us: a complete mental shift to the start of the NBA and NCAAB seasons
No more FIBA. No more trades. No more Big 3. No more draft. No more Taco Tuesday.
The only thing standing between us and real basketball is time. However, today isn’t about NBA previews or recaps of international 7th place finishes. Loyal subscribers and family, we have a special edition coming your way.
Welcome to Fashion Week here on The Mid Range. We are being joined by the 19nine team to discuss all things basketball apparel and style. Josh and Aaron help run the world’s top throwback college basketball apparel company. In a nutshell they recreate vintage shorts and tees that make you feel like you’re bounce passing like its 1975.
I mean, imagine rocking a fresh pair of these Xavier throwbacks to your local Y. You’ll finally get the respect you deserve out there, maybe even the number of your crush who works at the front desk.
Fellas, Carter and I are dying to dive in and talk about how basketball wardrobes have evolved over time, but first would you two mind giving a better intro to 19nine than I just did?
Also, why do you think fans have such a connection to throwback gear and memorabilia?
Aaron Meyer: Wearing retro college apparel allows me to represent teams and players that I had or have an interest in. 19nine‘s clothing and retro clothing, in general, is about the conversation, about the story. I like to wear shorts or shirts connected to a certain run in the NCAA tournament or a certain player or a certain team or coach. Wearing those shorts or a Jerry Tarkanian caricature sparks conversations. In this way, I am able to represent my passion in a tangible way
19nine as an outsider insider brings together my passion for Basketball and storytelling aspects or the games history. Games are amazing and experiential but the best games live on forever in the stories that are told about them including the uniforms they wore and how they wore them.
Josh Barnett: Thanks for the intro guys! Aaron pretty much nailed it with the story that each product is connected to. It’s incredibly important because our customer is buying the story every bit as much as they are buying the product. 19nine is exclusively a college basketball company because that’s our passion and luckily we have found others who feel the same way. When you have a niche product you also have a chance to develop a really strong core following. I take calls, texts, emails and DMs from college basketball fanatics on a daily basis. We are a small company with only a handful of employees but our connection with our customers and the dialogue we’ve opened with them makes us feel as if we have 100s of people working with us. It’s awesome!
With that we feel a certain level of responsibility to represent and tell those stories the way they should be. Iconic teams, coaches and moments deserve the amount of time we put into obtaining licensing, the research, the design concepts, the photography, the HVS blog and podcast etc. It’s a labor of love and respect and at the risk of sounding super cheesy we are honored to bring back some of these pieces of Hardwood History. Tag line! Zero percent chance I wasn’t working that into the intro somewhere!
Carter Pearson: Thanks, guys. Love the story and how you’ve created something that’s fashionable, but also emotional for people. Not to generalize, but college fandom is more personal than NBA fandom.
Wearing shorts or a tee from when you and Ralph Sampson were both at UVA is very different than picking up a sweet Spurs snapback because you like neon. Although, disclaimer: I did not attend Marquette in the late 1960s and still think those shorts are dope.
Onto basketball fashion, current and former. I’ll skip over the current drama about ninja-style headbands, as that will be forgotten by the time people read this edition. Like all fashion, basketball fashion is both cyclical and progressive.
I think there have been 4 eras of basketball fashion.
Naismith-Mikan Era — short shorts, Converse high tops. Jerseys are bland are functional only. The ones that were popular enough to remain from this time period now have classic gear, like the Celtics and Lakers.
60s-80s — as the League truly integrates, guys like Dr. J and Pistol Pete in his own way, bring some swag to the proceedings. Jersey designs are pushed by the ABA and we get some truly iconic looks — the PHILA jerseys and the blue and green Hawks jerseys.
Late 80s-early 2000s — MJ and the Fab Five usher in the long shorts era. Team jersey design gets a bit stale. Accessories overtake basketball and influence little kids to wear shooting sleeves. Off the court fashion becomes a huge deal as David Stern implements a dress code, which many deride as racially targeted. It probably was.
Present Day — today’s stars are bigger brands than the teams they play for. LeBron might rock (and toss) a headband, but he and other guys at his level, are acting like businesses on and off the court. The Dress Code is still in effect, but is rarely enforced and is now 100% seen as a way for the league to comfort corporate sponsors. Noted fashion gawd Russell Westbrook has only received one violation ever, according to Slam Online.
But, it’s interesting that today’s stars are more interested in wearing high fashion than they ever have been. I think there’s a cultural, star-driven element to it. If LeBron or Russ do something, that means guys like Ben Simmons and Zion will do it. There was a spread of rookies in the New Yorker this year! The 2004 class…would not have made the New Yorker.
Okay, I’m rambling a bit here. What I want to know is this: what is the straight up strangest piece of basketball apparel you have ever seen? On or off court.
John, can you kick us off?
Josh — At some point, and I’m not sure what the customer-fan confidentiality privilege is, I am going to need you to share the strangest DM-slide that you have received.
JD: I’ve come to terms that I was supposed to be playing in the 60s-80s, both from a fashion and style of play perspective. Instead, I grew up in a time where I tried to make headbands and shooting sleeves work on a body that just wasn’t designed for cool swag.
Before I discuss the weird and the wild, I want to protect a player who receives too much criticism. I don’t know why everyone freaked out about Melo hoodie days. Looks very comfy.
As for weird on-the-court apparel, during the college times we had a friend (and loyal subscriber!) who would roll up to pick-up games in an array of short-sleeve button-downs. Think something like this, or this, but not this. There wasn’t much room for jest towards Ben because he would often light it up. Can’t make fun of someone’s buttons when they have more three pointers than your team combined. Rules are rules.
I don’t have a picture, but I once played pickup with a guy who perfected the Doug look. To have the confidence or confusion to wear a sweater vest to competitive pickup is so beyond me, I have to assume this man was a world-renowned artist or academic. He didn’t score a point or connect on a pass so probably yes.
As for off-the-court strange, Carter I’m sure you know I thrive at archiving these things. Josh and Aaron, don’t judge me. Number one on my list is this:
I don’t think I need to say anything so let’s move on before this gets awkward.
The angriest I get towards apparel is anyone wearing this Wizards uniform pattern. During my work and personal trips to DC over the years I keep seeing them. They are not even vintage, they are semi-vintage since they were last worn in 2009. Most of the anger stems from me knowing there is such a plethora of NBA gear to wear instead of those….those gold atrocities.
While a nice gesture, Kobe’s 9/11 tribute shoes were hideous and still show up on the streets to this day.
Then there are the Sprewell Spinners, which bring out all sorts of shame. To be fair to the makers of these…umm…shoes they were introduced during a time when bling was king. Culture in the early 2000s was dominated by rap and hip-hop videos that must have had enormous budgets even if they were renting the properties. To jog your memories: Ludacris. Nelly. 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” years. And of course Cam’Ron’s “Hey Ma” ft. Juelz Santana.
It’s not an excuse, but I see why Sprewell’s camp thought this was a good idea at the time.
Finally, fans that still wear this Adidas line makes me chuckle.
Alright, talk to me 19nine team. What have you seen out there? I’m sure you’ve got some retro craziness for us.
JB: The sweater vest story made me laugh. I’ve honestly never seen that. I did however lose a 2 on 2 game to a barefoot dude in jeans at Howell Park with 19nine’s graphic designer, Matt Breivogel. We promised each other never to tell anyone because of how embarrassing it was. Full disclosure: the dude was drunk as hell and taking swigs from a 40 between points. We were like 16 and I was scared shitless to actually guard him because he also had an entourage with him.
I grew up before the shooting sleeve craze but you can bet your ass had they been around I would have doubled up on both arms if possible. I’ve always been a big accessories guy. Huge tights guy right now, naturally. But back in the day you could find me hooping with a cutoff under my jersey, and a wristband either on my elbow or bicep (Kobe style even though I hated Kobe at the time).
I was very particular with my undershirt though. I hated the players that had jagged edges like they cut the sleeves off with a hand saw, also hated the ones that were cut at the hem and hung off the shoulders like a wizards sleeve… that shit was amateur hour. For me the undershirt had to only cover the chest to the base of my neck and never show past the cut of the jersey on the shoulders. Perfection!
You touched on the early 2000s in your response and my most hated trend comes from that era of pure uniform/basketball/rap shit. The thick shoulder trend ie those Iverson Sixers jerseys. I hated how bulky they looked. Even A.I. had a hard time making them look cool and he’s a basketball fashion icon.
You also had the ridiculousness of shorts length during that era highlighted or really low lighted by this T.J. Ford photoshoot…
And an often forgotten basketball fashion faux pas is these NC State onesies they tried to pull off during the late ’80s. Although if I ever find that exact onesie on eBay I’m buying it for my son, Knox and making him wear it to whatever teams tryout he’s trying to make when it fits him.
AM: I’ve been following along and searching for a jumping off point. All of the above would be an easy response. It is amazing how important basketball fashion is compared to other sports and how iconic the looks have become. I think the two things that always made me scratch my head while playing were jeans and hats facing forward.
I loved the video a couple of years ago when Elfrid Peyton got blocked by his hair. Pre-dating that I saw a guy get blocked several times by his hat but refused to put it on backward or take it off. While I admired his dedication to his look I’m baffled by it to this day.
The other guy that stands out is a guy who used to play pick up basketball with us but wore full length jeans all the time. Now you would think he was a chump but he was one of the more athletic guys on the court most days. He gave me my only concussion playing basketball when his knee almost took out my eye. I just wonder how much better he would’ve been if someone would’ve got that guy into the Nike/Josh Barnett compression tights and a pair of shorts.
I think two pieces of wider basketball attire that stand out are the mini finger sweatbands that Reggie Miller, Iverson, and a few others wore. I used to look for those all over the place just to try them out. I have always worn the same thing to play basketball in but I also always feel the need to try out anything new just to make sure I’m not missing out on anything. If anyone has these I am willing to try them and bring them back.
The second is more recent, the karate kid headbands that the NBA has now deemed to be dangerous and ban for the upcoming season. As a person who sweats like Patrick Ewing in a sauna, the headband is a must for me but these just seemed out of place with the buttoned up uniform look the NBA has established. I thought they were going a different direction starting last year with the easing of restrictions on shoes and these funky new headbands. Looks like they are pulling back on that a bit now.
JB: John Woods, if you are reading this we need your collection of 397 finger bands for Meyer to bring back. Only dude I ever knew who had them and he wore every bit of 7 of them during a charity basketball tournament I played with him in the early 2000s. Side note: we only had 5 players, made it to the championship game, took 47 Aleve throughout the day, lost the championship because Woods fouled out on a technical foul after going apeshit over a goaltending call. How does that relate to this basketball fashion blog? I wore Nike Cortez’s for the entire 7 games because I was home from college and didn’t have anything else on hand.
CP: Gentlemen. That was an impressive and wide range of responses.
I admire the idiosyncrasy of basketball fashion more than any particular item of clothing. More than any other sport (except maybe women’s tennis) basketball encourages individuality of gear without regard to, or sometimes in direct contrast with, performance.
This is kind of a layup — but modern basketball fashion, in terms of weirdness at least, begins and ends with White Men Can’t Jump. I’m doing zero research to back this up, but Wesley and Woody wore: hats, jorts, fully cut out muscle tees, and Princess Diana style bike shorts and boots during that film as they slowly played out their late prime. That’s an impressive amount of gear considering the financial troubles they faced and the amount of chafing that defending in jorts would cause. But, I think the gear in that film symbolized they strange nature of their partnership, and firmly set them outside of the basketball mainstream.
In a way, I kind of get the sense that 19nine is about the same thing. You are bringing back iconic gear that allows people to show not only their passion for a school, but their knowledge of a specific time in basketball history and the ethos that accompanied it.
Am I right? Or am I completely insane and need to stop making comparisons between 1992 films and 2019 companies.
JB: That’s always bothered me about White Men Can’t Jump. We know why Billy is dressed the way he is because he’s playing the role of “Chump”. What is never explained is why Sidney Deane is dressed like he’s about to compete in the Tour De France. Side note: I had those David Robinson Nike 180 Pumps when I was 12 and they went halfway up to my knee.
For sure 19nine is about taking people back to a place in time when their team went on a magical run or a connection they had with a certain era or player on their favorite team. The ’95 Villanova shorts we released this summer was the perfect example. Those were originally a crazy Apex design when they came out and many Nova fans have mixed feelings about them. We heard everything from “these were my favorite shorts ever” to “I wish these would have stayed in ’95” to “I hated them in ’95 but have an appreciation for them now”. That’s a wide range of emotion for a pair of shorts but our job is to bring back the product and have fun creating that conversation.
When you see that happening organically over social media, emails, DM’s, phone calls, etc it’s a really cool thing.
JD: Thanks Josh. I really enjoyed this line:
“That’s a wide range of emotion for a pair of shorts but our job is to bring back the product and have fun creating that conversation.”
There’s an old adage that if you want to have great success as a company the quickest path there is building a great product, and naturally people will share it. Luckily you have seemed to figure out this formula, and I could imagine a major factor is that sharing portion. Let’s take the ’95 Villanova shorts for example. 19nine releases the ’95 shorts, then all the Nova fanatics start sharing them around whether they intend on buying them or not. What happens next is conversations on how the Kerry Kittles-led teams were fantastic to watch, helped rebuild the brand, but ultimately underachieved in the NCAA Tournament. So its a mixed discussion of those shorts’ design and “what could have been” narratives that further connect a passionate fanbase.
Lots of light bulbs went off typing that out. Also come on Kerry, you can’t get bounced by #14 seed Old Dominion in the first round your junior year…then get bounced by #6 seed Louisville in the round of 32 as a consensus First-Team All-American your senior year….
Since you can’t always be watching a YouTube rerun, apparel is one way to capture nostalgic sports feelings. And maybe the programs and players know this so they create a timeline for their fans, a sort of history book of gear. That’s why I’m fascinated with how uniforms and styles keep innovating, and even some cyclical patterns such as the short shorts making a comeback.
Do we think that all this changing of apparel is ever going to stop? Or is this part of the sport’s nature to constantly be evolving and “moving”, allowing new waves of players to express themselves and make a dent in the basketball universe?
AM: There is a constant evolution in apparel. Still, apparel changes constantly surprise me. The Starters, now The Free Agents, do a bit every year trying to predict trends in NBA apparel. They have hit in the past on some off-court styles but there is no way anyone could have seen the karate headband coming. The speed that these trends matriculate continues to astound me. It took years for the baggy shorts to spread into the wider basketball culture. Nike had the karate headbands printed up and they were all over the middle school I work at by Christmas last year.
One of the other changes to the trends is the faster burn time. It also seems that there has been a change in where the influence comes from. It seems that NBA players influence through social media. This top-down model seems different from the past when it used to bubble up from the NCAA when the NBA was more buttoned up. For many of the young men playing at the D-I level, it was an opportunity to express themselves for the first time and pushed the boundaries. I hope that with the California law NCAA athletes will reassert themselves and increase their exposure and influence.
JB: Easy now. Don’t go attacking our guy, Kerry Kittles and Villanova for the tournament losses. It’s called March Madness for a reason! Off topic a bit but it always blows my mind how many things have to go right to win a few tourney games, get to a Final Four, and win a National Championship. We look at Coach K as probably the greatest to ever do it yet in the same breath can talk about a lot of his teams getting upset in the tourney when from a talent standpoint they shouldn’t. Do I dare say we could even have a conversation about Coach K underachieving in the tournament with 5 Nattys?!?!?! Is it crazy to think he could or possibly should have 10? This is what makes the tournament the greatest event in sports.
Back on topic, I honestly think Nike’s dominance coming out of the ’90s has quelled the creativity in the uniform sector of college basketball. Some of the all time great shorts came from companies like Starter, Apex, Converse, Reebok, etc. Nike had competition and those that rose to the challenge created some absolute classics in their own right. I feel like the competition isn’t as strong these days and Nike has gone more in the way of their System of Dress. Every team looking similar.
The other point is that a lot of these shorts became iconic because of the players who wore them for multiple years. The one and done has changed that a bit. Unless you have a ‘Melo type run that cements your legacy no one really remembers your college days. It will be interesting to see how people look back on Zion’s year at Duke in 10 years. I understand the rule and I’m all for people securing the bag, but as a college basketball fanatic I feel like we are getting cheated out of some great players staying, super teams forming, and rivalries deepening with how high the turnover rate is today.
I’m not even entirely sure if I answered your question but I feel better having gotten that off my chest.
CP: On the Tournament — in my head, with no possible math applied, I think you should get beat 1 of every 10 years as a 4-seed or better. Based on that, I think Duke has underachieved a bit. But, you can’t really complain about 5 Nattys.
Onto more pressing matters — jerseys. I completely agree with what you said about Nike. If you are the top dog, there’s no incentive to take risks, and the System of Dress becomes a part of your brand. I do think it’s interesting that some of the creativity we used to see in basketball has become a recruiting advantage in football. You had dudes going to Oregon from Florida because they had cool jerseys (and also super dope Nike facilities). In basketball, I think recruiting is driven a bit more by bags of cash, then by uniforms. Sad!
To close this out — I really want to thank you both for what you do at 19nine. You’re keeping alive a whole generation of basketball styles that have been lost in a sea of sameness. Long live very strange, nonsensical patterns. Long live basketball teams dressing like the 1919 White Sox. And long live shorty shorts. They are better for the handles.
Originally Posted on The Mid Range