Stephanie Kramer: My name is Stephanie Kramer and I’m the research assistant on the project, Items: Is Fashion Modern?
It was in the 80s when the sports jersey became a very big business. Before the 70s and 80s, mom and pop shops were providing sports jerseys to local high school and college teams, and even for some of the most well-known professional sports teams.
In 1985, the owner of a store called the Athletic Shop in Dallas was providing the Dallas Cowboys with their sports jerseys. And he realized that he could just start putting their numbers on similar shirts and selling them. And that's when the NFL realized that there was big business in this and started commissioning such companies as Champion, Reebok, and Nike.
Late in the 80s, we see a lot of hip hop artists start wearing sports jerseys. Tupac Shakur was famously photographed wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey, and the Notorious B.I.G. for example, in his video “Juicy” wore a jersey that he had customized to read “Bad Boy,” which was the name of the record label that he was signed to. So that was really an early example of a sports jersey being used fashionably, and not just to express your allegiance to a team.