The licensed sports apparel industry is a multi-billion dollar behemoth that really exploded in the 1990s. Nike and Michael Jordan formed a partnership that changed the sports world and became a significant contributor to '90s sports fan fashion. Hip-hop pioneers N.W.A wore the Raiders' silver-and-black logo to show love for their hometown of Los Angeles, but it also became a cultural touchstone in the fashion world.
Smart, upstart clothing companies saw a lucrative sales opportunity and flooded the market with team apparel in the 1990s. Some of them were great; many more were not. Here are some sports fan clothes from the '90s that made an indelible mark on your childhood, for better or worse.
Zubaz PantsPhoto: Torii Hunter / Instagram
Zubaz pants go well with mullets and Metallica cover band shows in the parking lot of your local Home Depot. WWE legends The Road Warriors often wore the comfy elastic-waisted weightlifter pants, known for their loud tiger stripes in your favorite team's colors. Anyone that grew up with an Eastbay catalog owned a pair of these fashion disasters. They are still available right here, where you can Embrace the Awesome.
Starter HoodiePhoto: Starter
Starter was the most popular brand name in licensed sports apparel in the 1990s. The jackets and hats were top-notch, but it was the hoodie that became ubiquitous with young sports fans. Even the notoriously aloof Patriots coach Bill Belichick (who coached the Cleveland Browns at the time) shilled for Starter back in the day. If you weren't a fan of the local team, repping the Charlotte Hornets or Chicago Bulls with Starter hoodies was considered acceptable.
Nike Air Jordans
The marriage of Nike and Michael Jordan raised both their profiles to stratospheric heights. Though the first Air Jordans came out in 1985, their popularity continued well into the '90s and the insanely high price tag (about $100 a pop retail) created a new rash of crimes where people were robbed for the shoes on their feet. What started as one line of sneakers became an entire brand within a brand. Even now, vintage Jordans go for thousands of dollars in online auctions.
Umbro ShortsPhoto: Metaweb / CC-BY
America will never truly embrace soccer as a spectator sport, no matter what its fans tell you. But, for some reason, we were way into soccer fashion in the 1990s. Everybody had a pair of Adidas Sambas and these ghastly neon Umbro shorts. The material they were made from was also way too thin, leaving nothing to the imagination. If you're into that sort of thing (eww) they can be purchased right here.