UO X ‘90s SPORTSWEARMarch 26, 2015
Our menswear department has seen more ‘90s nostalgia than an MC Hammer fan club reunion recently, with exclusive collaborations with three of the decade’s most iconic sportswear labels – Fila, Champion and Ellesse all launching this month.
Fresh from working with these timeless brands to spin some distinctive Urban Outfitters takes on their classic staples, UO Menswear Buyer Kris Babet took five minutes to talk about rave culture, sportswear design, and embarrassing throwback haircuts.
UO: So Kris, we guess the obvious question is why ‘90s sportswear and why these three labels?
KRIS: We thought, let’s take these classic brands, adapt their staples, and give it some new life. We wanted to show it to a new audience and see what happens.
The main themes in mind were ’90s rave culture, football culture, and throwback style. Ellesse was a natural fit and Fila, well, they designed some really exciting stuff through the early ‘90s – we wanted to pick that up and shine a spotlight on it. And of course, when you think about that early ‘90s sportswear, the first thing you think of is Champion reverse weave products. The sweatshirts, the hoodies – all those classics.
UO: What did you design this collection to be worn with?
KB: We looked at it like, ‘what would we have been wearing in the early ‘90s? How would we have been wearing it?’ So, you can still wear it all with a pair of black skinny jeans, but if you wanted to wear it with a looser fit tapered jean that works too. Air Force Ones, Adidas Superstars, or the Stan Smith’s trainers all have their place here too.
UO: Did a particular sportswear style icon inspire these collections?
KB: It was more about cultural icons. We looked at early ‘90s hip-hop for ideas. Especially with the Champion stuff- people like LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, they were always in Champion.
Also, what was happening in the UK and Europe at that time; rave culture. There were longer sleeves, a wider body, longer tees- kind of baggy, oversized fits. We looked at old imagery from rave nights and warehouse parties and got inspired by what the guys were wearing.
It wasn’t so much a cultural icon as in that person, or that sporting icon, that athlete; it was more about the youth of the day.
UO: And now that you’ve brought back these three brands, are there any other ‘90s trends that you want to see return?
KB: Well I had some pretty shocking stuff back then! What I like personally is the engineered striped t-shirts, polo shirts – looser fit collars worn open rather than buttoned up, collars over sweatshirts. Rugby shirts, too – we’ve got a rugby shirt in the Ellesse range. It’s not something I’ve seen for much of for a few years – I remember that being quite a big trend, I like that. I’d like to see more rugby shirts.
It was a very difficult time, the ‘90s…my hair was in curtains. And I had a whole load of hooded t-shirts. I don’t want to see them come back.