Over the summer I started playing basketball again for the first time in years. Initially just as something to do with my kid, I quickly rediscovered how much I loved the game. But with getting back into it, I need some proper gear to play in. Gone are the days of playing in inappropriate clothing (tight running shorts run a risk of unsightly exposure). As a man of a certain age (ahem), I want stuff that works, but I also want stuff that doesn’t make me look like the world’s oldest teenager. So upon visiting a sport retailer here in London, I balked at the tons of gaudy clothing emblazoned with U.S.-centric basketball graphics all over it.
Naturally basketball is most associated with America, but it’s global presence is steadily growing. It’s now officially the 2nd most popular sport globally. In the UK we have our own basketball league (the BBL) and a national team, so I’ve always been bemused by the lack of UK-centric apparel available here. To the extent that if you attend a Team GB game, there’s not even a t-shirt stand for punters. Plus, I’m at an age where I don’t really want to draw attention to my complete lack of ability in full Kobe gear.
So as a graphic designer/design entrepreneur, I’ve been inspired to start creating apparel with London-flavoured basketball graphics that represents our home-grown efforts. I’m building on a lot of work for sport-related brands (like these pitch graphics for the fledging PLB league), so I wanted to extend this into something positive in my city. I want to see shirts that reflect our communities, identities and neighbourhoods. Clothing that tells a story beyond an appropriation of American culture. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t support NBA teams or buy the merch, but with so many athletes, fans, and regular folk engaging with the sport here, I think we deserve the opportunity to create our own story, here in the UK.
So I’ve started creating a series tentatively titled London Boroughs Basketball, where I’m aiming to create a shirt for each of the 33 London boroughs, starting with mine – Haringey. I’ve done about 12 designs so far. The basketball graphics on these tees are inspired by vintage varsity clothing, as varsity culture isn’t something we have in the UK. I’m also building a full London Boroughs Basketball web shop. In the meantime Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green basketball heads can order this one for £15 from my Big Cartel shop here. Good for practise, or a great gift for the North London-bound basketball fan in your life!
Stay tuned for more…