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Philadelphia’s Mitchell & Ness has been making jerseys for a long time—established in 1904, by 1933 the company was making the on-field uniforms for the hometown Eagles, followed by the baseball Athletics (then also based in Philadelphia) five years later. Fifty years later, their expertise led a collector of vintage baseball jerseys who had several in need of repair to their door, and Mitchell & Ness realized that they could use the same techniques to make exact replicas. What started with baseball eventually grew to encompass all major professional sports save soccer. The entire “throwback” trend started here.
By the time Lynn Bloom, Mitchell & Ness’ Director of Merchandising, Authentics joined the company a decade ago, the throwback wave had crested and broke. In the early 2000s, rappers and regular folk alike had loaded up on size XXXXXXL jerseys and warmups—the more obscure the better—in a seemingly neverending game of one-upsmanship. The jerseys themselves were timeless, but style, alas, is not. Giant jerseys went the way of equally oversized pinwheel hats, and all went either to the back of the closet or to Goodwill.
Nostalgia, however, never goes out of style. And while Mitchell & Ness jerseys are no longer de rigueur at every party, they still have a dedicated fanbase. In a sense, things are back to where they were in the '80s, when jerseys were bought not based on what they looked like (and whether someone else had it or not) but for whom or what they represented. We spoke with Bloom about how and why certain jerseys are chosen for reproduction over others, the importance of being exact, and the love everyone seems to have for a certain red dinosaur.