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357- The Barney Design redux

99% Invisible

29:43 min | 2 years ago

357- The Barney Design redux

"Does is ninety nine percent invisible. I'm Roman Mars. All over Oakland right now. People are wearing warriors shirts and find their warriors flags on their cars as much as we like our hometown team here at nine p. I we've been following these NBA finals for another design related reason when you watch the games in Toronto, the whole stadium is filled with people, wearing red rafters, jerseys, and these t shirts that say we the north on them. But every now and then you see little flashes of purple, those bold fans are wearing one of the most polarizing jerseys in sports history. A jersey we actually did a whole episode about last year. So an honor of the Toronto Raptors and the beautifully ugly jersey, they gave the world. We're gonna rerun that episode for you today, plus an update from our newest ninety nine team member. Chris Baru bay who was raised and currently resides in the great north. He is very excited right now. Stay with us. On a March afternoon in nineteen Ninety-six the Toronto, Raptors a brand new team in the NBA at the time we're playing the Chicago Bulls. Fade away jumper from the bulls were the best team in the league and the raptors were pretty terrible. Thirty six thousand fans showed up that day and the raptors actually beat the bulls. But it was the mostly meaningless game at the end of the season, this is reporter Whitney Jones and what's so interesting to me about this game isn't who won or how the teams played, but the way they looked, there's the bulls, who were just classic NBA, if had the same logo since nineteen sixty six they're wearing their red away jerseys that look, basically, like every Chicago Bulls. Jersey ever. It's red with the word bowls written across the front and black and white lettering. It's simple classic. But then there's the Toronto Raptors. The team is wearing their white home even forms which have jagged silver, and black pinstripes as if they were cut by slashing raptor claws, and then across the whole front. There's a giant red basketball plane dinosaur, who himself is wearing sneakers and a uniform, a totally different uniforms, and he's dribbling a basketball, and that was just their home uniform, the road jerseys that year were even more fun. There were bright purple all of this, including the raptors name had been inspired by the Veloce, raptors in the wildly successful movie Jurassic Park. But these jerseys got compared to a different much friendlier nineties dinosaur. That's now known as the Barney designed because their road uniform was purple. This is Paul Lukas uniform obsessive and writer of column at ESPN called union watch. It just it looks so cartoonish in so ridiculous. You look at it and it's like, really that's a professional like top level team. The raptors jersey may have been particularly garish but it wasn't the only jersey of its kind, the nineties were this insane decade of NBA uniform design a produce some of the wildest jerseys that have ever graced basketball court loud, wacky designs, the likes of which had never been seen before. And haven't been seen since like the Atlanta Hawks red and black jersey with a fierce looking hawk swooping in across the entire front of it holding a basketball, and it's a little talents or the Milwaukee Bucks. Green uniform with a giant picture of purple stag, Lucas called this one great. I mean great in the sense that it was. So awful. It was great. They had this, this purple garish purple and green color pattern. It just looks ridiculous. But it definitely all these designs, definitely they pushed and extended the idea of what a basketball uniform could be or should be. And many of these designs can be traced back to one man. I'm Tom O'Grady? I joined the NBA nine hundred ninety s league's first. Creative director Tom grew up in Chicago, sketching and re sketching the logos of his hometown, Chicago Blackhawks another classic pro hockey teams, Tom's love for sports and eye-catching art made this new NBA gig. Dream job. My first day at the NBA was just filled with excitement. I'd always been a big sports fan. And I loved design and my studied graphic design here, Columbia, college back in Chicago. So when I walked in the door in June of nineteen ninety I kind of had a pinch myself because I really didn't believe what was happening before. Tom O'Grady joined the league, most NBA jerseys. Look, something like that. Classic bulls jersey. They had simple two or three color schemes with the team names across the front. There might have been stripe here or there, maybe a cool font. But that was about it, and they weren't designed by designers, the process of designing team. Uniforms, is mostly left up the team equipment managers, because they were responsible for getting the players outfitted to play the game. Games mostly this consisted of the equipment managers flipping through a catalog choosing a design. They liked with the right colors. It was not as sophisticated business. Let's say that they were happy just to get uniforms on the players backs. But that was all about to change. Because in nineteen eighty eight the Charlotte Hornets introduced a radical new idea, the color teal in this archival news footage from nineteen Eighty-eight on its player Kelly, Puka stands on stage in front of flashing cameras. Then he rips off his -til. Tearaway warm-ups to reveal the Hornets new uniforms. Teo was not a traditional NBA jersey color. It's not NBA read. It's not NBA blue. It's not Celtics green. It's not Lakers yellow, Tom O'Grady had nothing to do with the Hornets uniform, but he took it as a sign that the league was ready for bolder designs. It was it was a kind of a leap of faith for the league to say, you know, this is not really something we've seen before it, but as an expansion team will probably let you have this one because maybe there's something new, we can learn from this, and it turned out fans loved the -til, Hornets jersey. It looked fresh in different. It was really very popular. They soon became known as the men of teal and all sudden, the Charlotte, Hornets had gained great recognition before they'd ever played a basketball game win. Tom O'Grady was hired as the NBA's first creative director two years later, in one thousand nine hundred he wanted to push jersey design, even further, not just the colors, but the designs on the uniforms until the early nine. There have been real limits to how wild you could get with these designs because all the details the numbers the names in the logos had to be sewn on to do any kind of complicated graphics would have taken a massive amount of embroidery, and all that thread would have added additional weight, and made the jersey hotter to wear. But soon after Tom Brady joined the NBA, he would get some new tools to work with computer programs like Photoshop illustrator helped him dream up new logo designs and there was a new technique to get those drawings onto a jersey it was called die. Sublimating supplementation changed. Everything civilization is a process of printing Di directly into the fabric now for the first time you could design something in Photoshop, you could make it big, and you could add up a bunch of different colors than with sublimating, you could basically print that design straight onto the material without any embroidery, or extra weight. So it allowed us to start to take things we would never normally even consider doing on a jersey and we started doing more outrageous. Uniforms and stuff because we could we can. So we will Tom's first big design was for the Phoenix Suns who are celebrating their twenty fifth year in the league. They were moving into a new arena, and they wanted a new look. So Tom met with their team owner Jerry Colangelo. Jerry was great. And he was a fellow Chicago. And so soon as he heard my accent. He's like, I think we're going to get along. You know, I think uh Chicago guys kind of get this. Here's what I wanna do. I wanna have a logo, that's going to last for the next twenty five years. I don't wanna have to change it. So I want something futuristic but classic so Tom and his team started on the Suns. Redesigned, they come up with this big basketball. That's also a son it has these long red to orange gradient sunrays coming off of it, and then they print, this and a bright purple background onto their New Jersey. It's not exactly what I would call classic but it is bold, definitely told as luck would have it the Phoenix Suns made it to the NBA finals that year and the whole country got to see that bright purple jersey with its blazing basket. Ball son all over national TV. We got exposure for that uniform, that was priceless. That changed everything for us. We were able to do things with uniform is that we could not imagine even two years before that, like a teal, Detroit Pistons jersey with a flaming horse head logo, or a pin striped, Houston Rockets jersey between a cartoon rocket with an angry face on it over the course of the decade. Two-thirds of NBA teams got new uniforms with new logos and new color schemes. There was a lot of teal and purple three D lettering, and oversized graphics were everywhere. We look back on it and say, wow, this, some of the stuff is pretty outlandish, but that's okay because that's what was happening at the time. The technology us the wild and Tom's boss NBA Commissioner David Stern gave him the freedom to keep pushing the designs further. He said, you know, if this is what selling any of, you're telling me, this is what's going to work at retail count me. In before the nineties, the NBA wasn't doing much with merchandising if a fan wanted to buy a jersey. They had to pay the full cost of a genuine stitched NBA game jersey, which was sometimes over two hundred dollars. But with all these popular new designs, Tom and others at the NBA got thinking, why don't we you know have a, a jersey that we can sulfur about forty five to fifty dollars? That's looks similar to the game jersey and we saw this business explode, you know, in five years, and went from almost like a baseline of nothing to a multimillion dollar business largely in the jerseys that we were designing the era of outlandish, NBA uniforms, reached its apex in nineteen ninety-five with jersey, we talked about, at the beginning that one from Toronto, one that some people call the Barney design. We were told directly by the team owner at the time, John veto, it would like to happy meal box of uniform designs. And we kind of looked at imposes like what did he mean by that? He said, I'm not gonna. This uniform forever. You know, kids don't eat out of happy meal box where ever. But if you can get the kids into your store, you're going to win them over, if happy meal design, isn't a term yet I'm making it one right now the goal was to convince hockey loving kids in Toronto that they should care about this new basketball team. And so we created this purple uniform with these jagged edge club pinstripes that looked like a raptured come and ripped it. And then they slapped the big dinosaur right in the middle of it. And they made it read because Canada, he wanted read wrapped up to represent Canada, which made all the sense in the world. I don't know how much sense that made. But that jersey it's all I think it was the top selling expansion team logo. We ever did even today. Sales were through the roof. Before they ever played a game before the team had even signed a single player the raptors were seventh in the league in merchandise sales, but is the ninety s came to an end change was afoot and stuff was about to get a lot more boring, by the early two thousands. The NBA have become a booming global industry and wealthy business. People were suddenly interested in team ownership people like Howard Schultz who terms Starbucks into a multibillion dollar business in two thousand one Schultz bought the Seattle SuperSonics any came into the league with a whole laundry list of changes to make he wanted to replace the hip hop. You'd hear in the arena on game night with jazz. He wanted his team to stick to the fundamental, less flashy dunks and showboating. He favored team basketball over individuals stars which was actually really bad for his team. Because it pissed off their actual stars also Scholtz hated the Sonics nineties look that had been designed by another than our Powell, Tom. We were able to take this kind of bass. Football spinning around space, needle and kind of have this superman funds and added toward Sonics in there and they changed colors from green and gold to dark green red and a metallic bronze old Howard jazz instead of hip hop Schultz was not a fan. So we hired Seattle design firm, hornell Anderson to completely remake the Sonics graphic identity, that's jerseys warm-ups, logos everything at my pants. So damn excited. This is Andrew Wiklund, who is the lead designer on the project. A hated what the Sonics looked like at that time, too. And a lot of other teams frankly that have been rebranded in the nineties. So, yeah, it was it was like Kenneth candy store, the direction they were given was clear immediately go back to the old classic green, and gold color scheme, and do something iconic, Howard's words, were I want this to be something that nobody would ever want to change? I want it to be. The Chicago Cubs. The New York Yankees the Green Bay Packers. Those are solid shapes simple shapes. They are simple color, palettes its simplification, is that strength by the start of the two thousand one two thousand two season. Everything was in place green, and gold No-3 day anything no giant logos across the chest. The uniforms looked like an update or the ones. They'd started wearing in the late seventies, but of Howard Schultz was committed to making the Sonics iconic franchise with an iconic, look, his commitment than last very long in two thousand six he's sold the team and the new owners move the Sonics to Oklahoma City, but Schultz's aesthetic vision rippled throughout the league throughout the odds one team after another slowly return to the old color schemes and lost their big graphic jerseys, even the raptors look has completely changed this year. The two main jerseys were red and white, and they say raptors on the front in a simple font. No crazy. Claw marks. No done is Moore's. It's like I've seen better intramural jerseys college. Here's Tom O'Grady. Again, they're just there's nothing to them. Zero there lifeless, and I don't get it. So what you will about Tom Brady's jerseys, but they were not lifeless. His designs are mostly gone from the NBA now but they live on in blog posts, and list of people's favorite jerseys from NBA history or their least favourite in their twenty fifteen list of the ugliest basketball jerseys of all time, Sports Illustrated wrote, quote, the Toronto Raptors cartoon dinosaur logo is one of the worst in all of sports. Thankfully, it will soon be extinct. But Tom doesn't mind when people call his designs garish or even ugly. He's proud of that record jersey was meant to be provocative was meant to be kind of eye-catching. We could've taken started out with seventy two point Helvetica that says Toronto and a big number on the back and call it a day. But I think that would not have been a memorable identity, nor great way to introduce a new team into a new market. And if people are still talking about it, then he did his job, right? I'm fine with the criticism about people thinking, it's the worst thing ever, because it certainly certainly says that, hey, you know, we noticed it we have an opinion about it. We have a strong opinion about it. But we remember it. And I think that's that's great. And the raptors original plan to hook kids with the happy meal of NBA jerseys. Love it or hate it. You could argue that it worked today, Toronto has a loyal fan base and over the past five years. They've had some of the highest attendance numbers in the league, and as for those bold nineties jersey. He's, they haven't actually gone extinct. There are now entire companies that produce retro jerseys and many of the designs, Tom Brady and his team came up with are really popular. And one of the top sellers is a bright purple jersey with jagged claw cut pinstripes and a red dinosaur rib lane. A basketball. The Toronto Raptors have won their way into the NBA finals, and that Barney jersey is more desirable than ever. Whoever report from nine P, I, editor and Canadian Chris Baru bay after this. Some things are hard to control the volume a music festival. Other things are easy to control. Like you're in home wifi with xfinity, X fi you get fast speeds and the ultimate control over your home wifi network with the x fi you can do things like see which devices are online, and how long they've been connected or set a wifi curfew for that, someone who check social media at three o'clock in the morning. So go ahead and take control of your wifi with xfinity X fine. It's simple. Easy awesome. Go to xfinity dot com. Call one eight hundred xfinity or visit a store. To learn more xfinity internet required. Other restrictions apply. Casper is asleep brand that helps you get your best rest one night at a time. And they came up with another way to help you get your beauty sleep. The hybrid collection by casper. 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Go to casper dot com slash nine nine PI and use the code nine nine P, I at checkout to get one hundred dollars towards select mattresses to one hundred dollars towards select mattresses by visiting casper dot com slash nine nine P I, and using code nine nine P, I at checkout terms and conditions apply. Support for ninety nine percent of visible comes from Wells Fargo celebrating national homeownership month and the donation of more than three hundred and fifty mortgage free homes to combat wounded veterans locally and nationwide. More at stories dot W, F dot com slash military. So I'm in the studio with Chris, Peru bay. He's our resident Canadian of special projects editor and a long suffering. Raptors fan who is very excited that the raptors are in the finals, I genuinely can't believe this is happening Roman. Rafter since I was eight years old, and I'm in my early thirties. So it has been a great deal of sports related suffering in my life. What accounts for all that suffering? I mean why has it been so hard to be a fan of the raptors in the early days? It was really tricky. Because the team came to Toronto, nobody in Toronto cared about basketball over hockey in, like the really early days, they actually played in a baseball stadium because the basketball stadium wasn't ready yet. So they set them up in this baseball stadium. And if you had like fifteen thousand fans like that's a good number of basketball fans but baseball stadium seats, forty five thousand people, so they just had these rows of empty seats with tarps over them. When you go to the game. It was really spiriting and players just really did want to play in Canada, partly because of, you know, stereotypes about it's too cold. And, you know, the taxes are high. The taxes are also high in places like California comparatively people didn't want to move up here but very famously one player just refuse to come Alonzo Mourning was traded to the raptors and he said, yeah, you know what? I'm just not. To do that. And they had to treat them somewhere else and players kept having these like weird excuses for not being here, like there was this guy Antonio Davis who played for the team who said he was actually like worried about his kids learning the metric system that was for him. So there is this like fatalism to rafters phantom merits like nobody wants to play here. It's a place that, you know, player, it's not seen as a desirable location for players to end up. And then, you know, we had to wear this uniform in the really early days with the raptor on it, and the bright purple and lots of players didn't like that. Like the players were saying, like, yeah. This is the only profession where like you hit the very top of your field. And then you have to wear a purple dinosaur uniform unless you're field is being Bernie, the dinosaur, that's the only other one. But it sounds like people kind of like that jersey now. Right. It's true. I think people have really come around on it, especially with the playoffs happening now. So I've had all these friends who've been going out to buy Rafter skier. And, you know, there've been lineups out the door and all the dinosaurs stuff for the most part is just completely sold out, and I went to this vintage store actually fairly close to where I am called in vintage, we trust it's run by this guy named Joshua Bruder, and he's been selling raptors merchandise forever. And he is Toronto born raised me, Chantal Torontonians, we would say on Tony ins, but you would say Torontonians. Visit something what is the difference between those two things he said? Yeah. Well Torontonians, if you hit that last ti- that shows that you're not from here. It's people who are from hearsay Toronto. Oh, rob. The last heat is it so it's the Toronto Raptors not the Toronto Raptors. Yeah. If you wanna sound credible the next few days, say, the Toronto Raptors so Josh and his partner, shantelle. They run this vintage store and he says the last few weeks, he's been getting requests like every half hour for some version of the purple dinosaur uniform from the early days and Josh he's like everybody, he knows the dinosaur is a pretty ridiculous. Look, it almost makes no sense. Like the actual logo is a dinosaur turn Holt dribbling, a basketball one way. He's turning around the other way and his toes are coming out of a pair of sneakers, it's completely absurd and ridiculous. When not only is it like a log on hat, as a fan, the players are wearing. Being literally wearing this logo on their jerseys. It's insane. So everyone wants to Barney jersey, but also everyone kinda millages that it's a little bit silly. So, so why do people like it now talking to Josh came away with two things? So the first is that the team is winning and nobody wants to look like a bandwagon fan. So nobody wants to look like they heard about the rules of basketball in the last two weeks. They just realize the something they're obsessed with. So everybody wants to make it seem like they've been there since the beginning Rozov you wear the purple Dino jersey, you look credible so especially if it's a really obscure player like Josh told me is beginning requests for people like Oliver Miller, who I had to look up. I had no idea who that was and cared about the forever. So people are spending all this money to get these jerseys of players. Nobody's ever heard of the other thing is nostalgia, right? Nostalgia does not have to make sense. It doesn't have to be something that is pretty nice. And this is what Josh says. Vintage is all about. It's about what the logo Vokes for people. It's what time it sends you back to. And when you look at that rafters uniform, when you look at that purple on the jersey that is the nineties reminds me of Space Jam, like this era, when there was so much silly basketball stuff happening, and it really just sends you back to that time, the logo is cartoonish, and it's very reminiscent of a specific era and people love reliving parts of their lives through tangible items things that they can touch and feel. That's why people are paying out to own original piece because they're investing in their past. So obviously, the raptors are not wearing the purple uniform from the nineties in the finals right now they're wearing their current uniform, which is pretty simple. It's pretty clean. It's like a white uniform with the black sand. Sarah fonts, the word raptors across the front. And then sometimes they wear a red uniform with the white Sarath raptors across the front. And then Roman this is where it gets very exciting. They have third uniform, which is black with a white Sarah, raptors across the that's when it gets really exciting mixing it up. I have seen this one. That's like it says north on it. What is can you describe that one for us? Yeah. They call that the city jersey, it's a red jersey. It has like a white, Chevron. So it's like this white arrow pointing up and it says north on it I actually think that one's pretty stylish. I like that one the best of their current uniforms. But with all of them, it's like they're good design. They're very clean. They're very simple. And ultimately, they're very safe. The current raptors uniform. It doesn't have a lot of. It's kind of weird for me to look at a raptors jersey with no purple in it. I get like you got to move away from the purple for a few years. But, like, why isn't the Dino jersey bean Warren as an alternate by the team at this point, like, how crazy would faint? Get for a quite Leonard. Raptors Dino jersey could you imagine? Give the people what they want. At the time, we're recording. This game five is just happened. The series is still alive. The rafters have one or two chances to make this happen, so quiet Leonard. I know you are an avid listener of, of design podcasts. See if you can make this happen before the finals Rover. So great if this showed up on the court at oracle, I mean, oh my God. I love it. All right. Thank you, Chris. Thank you. Roman. Ninety nine percent visible was produced this week by Whitney Jones and emit, FitzGerald with an assist from our new editor, crisper, ruby mix tech production by schrief, Yousef music by shown real kidney. Mingle is this senior producer current coal state is the digital director team includes senior editor, Delaney, Hong Avery turn Mazza divvy, and leave so FIU klutz, Joe, Rosenberg and me Roman Mars. We are project, ninety one point seven KLW in San Francisco in produced on radio row. In viewed affoil downtown. Oakland, California ninety nine percent. Invisible is a member of radio. Topa from PR. Exa fiercely independent, collective of the most innovative shows in all of podcasting. Find mall and radio Topi dot FM. You can find the show into discussions about the show on Facebook tweet at me out room in Moore's in the show at ninety nine PI or run Instagram tumbler ready to, but you can tell us all about your favorite NBA jersey on our website. It's nine p dot org. Radio too. Before we go. I want to tell you about your hustle. Another radio Pius show that you might like your hustle, share stories about daily life inside Saint Quentin state prison from the perspective of those living, it season Ford just launched after coz or lawn. Woods got some exciting news last fall, this season, will be a little different than the other three. Reception is replace everything filters through to the opening of vizo. Amer LAN woods. I'm Nitra poor, and we are back but season for your hustle from PR X's radio topa on your house. Will we bring you stories about what life is like inside San Quentin state prison in California prisoners, horrible. I. Really put the twang and for ever. Hey, and so all the white guy's brother seeing brother. Right. And this season we're doing something really different. We're also telling stories about life outside prison, posts incarceration. So that I people ask me what it was and hung the wear and why do I have it on, like dams might be locked up? You still got a word it. Outside stories inside stories, it all starts with episode one of season tour of your hustle from PR X's radio. Tokyo, your house is back. You can find your hustles fourth season on your hustle, s q dot com or wherever you get your podcasts.

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