Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hornets Extra: The evolution of the Charlotte Hornets uniform

There's a certain saying that goes "Clothes make the man", but when it comes to sports, there's an expression that goes like this: "Clothes make the team".  Many teams uniforms tell a story about a team's history, legacy, and tradition to a city where they call home, such as the New York Yankees and the iconic pinstripes, the Dallas Cowboys, with their legendary "Blue Star" logo, and the legendary teams of the NBA, including the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and the New York Knicks.  But no team in the NBA has a unique history, legacy, and tradition than that of the Charlotte Hornets.

Tomorrow morning, the Hornets will introduce their new uniforms the team will wear starting next season, and the uniforms will be slightly different than the ones we grew up seeing on the floor during the original Hornets era from 1988-2002, and the uniforms were hands down, one of the most popular jerseys in NBA history, and the connection to the uniforms was that they were designed by a native North Carolinian, Alexander Julian.  

Kelly Tripucka(left) models the Charlotte Hornets road jersey, designed by
Alexander Julian back in 1988.
He was the first fashion designer to design uniforms for an NBA team, and during the design process, he suggested that one of the colors would be pink, but then-owner George Shinn was not fond of that decision at the time he announced that Julian would be the one responsible to design the original Hornets uniforms.  So, with that being said, he would come up with a color we would never see before, and that would be the color teal.  He said "Teal was idea to use because it was fresh and new and exciting and looked good on every color of skin tone."  Julian said in an interview last year with Charlotte Magazine.  

Julian also realized that purple would be one of the team's colors as well, to match the team's "Dribbling Hornet" logo, designed by Jerrell Caskey of Hendrick Sportswear and unveiled on November 12, 1987, and he added in some Kelly Green and Carolina Blue to round out the unique pinstripe design for the Hornets uniforms, which made its debut on July 20th, 1988 in both, New York City and at the Belk location at SouthPark Mall here in Charlotte, with Kelly Tripucka modeling the uniforms, and the teal jerseys would also be historic as well for the Hornets, as they became the first team to wear that jersey on the road full time.

And what did Alexander Julian get in return for designing the uniforms? 5 pounds of North Carolina barbecue that Shinn sent to his home in Connecticut, according to Julian.

In 1994, the Hornets unveiled the purple alternate jersey, and in time for the team's 10th anniversary season, they would get updated jerseys for the remainder of the team's run in Charlotte as they would get two pinstripes on the jerseys to mark the team 10 years of existence in Charlotte.

Of course, Julian was not picked to design the new Hornets jerseys this time around, as the team decided to stick with Jordan Brand throughout the uniform design process, and many of us fans are hoping that the new designs that will be unveiled tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m. would possibly be somewhat of a combination of honoring the team's past while looking ahead to the future, as the new uniforms will absolutely be fresh and new for the Hornets when they hit the court in 2014-15.

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