"I don't know what the hell is going on," Shakir says. "It's crazy."Following my week-long search for some basic NBA-wear, I must admit that the same sentiment crossed my mind.
What had me puzzled? The white tee, and it's prevalence at the various athletic apparel shops I visited, most notoriously the Foot Locker at the West Manchester Mall. Picture the entire center section of the Foot Locker store covered by 4 gigantic shelving units holding nothing but plain tee shirts, half of which were plain white tee shirts! And their sales-zebras still had the nerve to dress up like refs. You sell white tees... Line Judges are in no way symbolic of me sleeping!
"If you can go to the store and buy five shirts for $25, that's your whole week," explains Myorr Janha.My eyes and ears have told me that the white tee has become a staple of hip-hop culture. I respect the trend as a spirited take-back mission and figure it was born of inner-city economics. Rather than sweat name-brand, higher-priced merchandise, why not make what many kids in poor areas were relegated to wearing the style? Then if you can pinch enough, go name-brand on the sneakers since you can wear those everyday. It's a sound strategy without a doubt.
But the irony in all of this is that the Foot Lockers and Finish Lines were the stores peddling the then trendy officially licensed league/player merchandise and sneaker brand duds. I guess the take-back is in full-effect. And I'm out a Spurs shirt.
I thought I'd get Googley and see what the tangled web had to say about this white tee shirt trend. The article quoted throughout this post, "XXXXXXXL", provided at-length coverage. (Pun intended!) It's really a pretty interesting and entertaining write-up. They hint at my theory behind the trend, as well as others including:
"There's the idea of not only living large, but living extra-large, and wearing a long shirt that goes down to your knees is a bold statement. You'll get noticed."The last of which is refuted by my favorite quote of the article:
"...they mimic and glorify a violent prison culture, where beltless cons stash contraband in the folds of one-size-fits-all uniforms."
"The culture of the customer is so everyone will look the same," says Stuart Silberman, vice president of marketing at Changes, a nine-store chain of urban menswear stores based in Baltimore that has been stocking tall tees since 2002. "If the cops are looking for a suspect, he's invariably wearing a long white T-shirt with long shorts. So they can't be identified. That was the real reason it all started."
"In my neighborhood, we all wear the same stuff, so me, I had to change my dress code up," ... "I wear different things from everybody else, so now when [the cops] run up on me, they don't get confused."Finally an explanation as to why Burlington Coat Factory thought they could sell a Fat Lever college jersey. And at the same time an explanation as to why I can no longer find a Fat Lever college jersey at Burlington Coat Factory.
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