If you were a sports fan in the late 1980's and 1990's, I'm sure you made many trips to your local mall to check out the gear at the sports fan shop. These types of stores were everywhere back then, as the licensed sports products business was booming during that time. I spent many years as an owner of a sports fan shop during that time and recently uncovered some great photographic history from the shop that contains some absolutely classic licensed gear. Today I wanted to share some classic NFL stuff from about 1993 or 1994. This image is a great reminder of what your typical fan shop looked like back then. In this picture you see some great garments from Salem Sportswear, pennants from Wincraft and some classic Sports Specialties caps. (click on the images for a larger view)
Who can forget Magic Johnson T's? These shirts, created by a company run by the Magic man himself, were in the same class as Zubaz at the time. The shirts were printed all-over, from sleeve to sleeve and top to bottom. They contained some seriously outrageous graphics on them. This shot shows the team version for the Cowboys and Steelers, and a player version featuring Boomer Esiason of the Bengals. These shirts are true licensed products hall-of-fame members!
This next image features another outlandishly designed piece of licensed products history, the Graphic Jacket by Chalk Line. The Chalk Line Graphic Jackets featured realistic looking dye sublimated graphics all over the back of a satin jacket. Check out the tiger on the back of that Bengals example! Don't try to deny that you owned one, because I know you did!
The next image in my trip back through NFL Products time is a classic look from Apex One that some may not remember. Apex One was known for their NFL sideline apparel and the famous Curve jacket. This warmup set was one of their more obscure creations that was likely designed to take away some of the Zubaz buzz as well. The set consisted of a light weight crinkle nylon jacket with matching pants. What made the set unique was the crazy logo and pattern print on the jacket and the pants. Apex One's rise was swift, knocking Starter out of the top spot for a short period of time, but their fall was even faster. Before you knew it, Apex One was no more and we were never able to see products quite like that again.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip in Doc Brown's Delorean to the sports fan shop of the 90's. I've got some more great shots from the NHL, NBA and MLB that I will share in the next few days. For those of us who have grown up loving sports licensed products, this stuff is definitely from the Golden Era of sports products.