‘Hello Brooklyn’: Behind the Nets’ most ubiquitous T-shirt

busta sportiqe

Brooklynites love vintage t-shirts, or at the very least, vintage-inspired t-shirts. (A sweeping generalization, but let’s stick with it.) Brooklyn fans have been quick to forget the team’s New Jersey days, though, and one of the most conspicuous things missing from the inaugural season in Brooklyn is the sight of the old logo at the Barclays Center. Establishing a new identity was no easy task, and to complement the slate of official Adidas team gear the Nets knew that they needed to partner with an apparel brand capable of supplying casual clothing to a fashion-conscious borough.

Last May, the Nets asked Sportiqe to do that. Sportiqe’s Nets line is currently sold in Bloomingdale’s, Atrium, Society Men and about three dozen other retailers in the New York area (as well as the team’s official store), while Jay-Z, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Busta Rhymes have been spotted wearing the gear. The brand’s “Hello Brooklyn” shirts have become Barclays staples, and I caught up with Sportiqe co-founder Jason Franklin to talk about the Nets partnership, “Hello Brooklyn,” and how the Grateful Dead/NBA collaboration came about:

Brooklyn’s Finest: Why did the Nets choose Sportiqe as an apparel partner before their inaugural season in Brooklyn?

Jason Franklin: The Brooklyn Nets wanted a brand that could bring fashion apparel to the marketplace. Sportiqe is the premier brand for fashion for the fan, so it was a natural fit.

BF: How did Sportiqe go about designing vintage-style t-shirts for a Nets team starting its first season in a new city

Franklin: This might be the inaugural season for the Brooklyn Nets, but Brooklyn has been around for a long time. We tapped in the the history and culture of Brooklyn, and put together a collection that not only people from Brooklyn would like, but a collection that people around the country would appreciate and want to wear.

BF: “Hello Brooklyn” has been the official tagline of this season’s Nets, and Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes have been spotted wearing “Hello Brooklyn” Sportiqe shirts. Any thoughts on the tagline?

Franklin: When the Nets first announced they were moving to Brooklyn, this graphic was the first thing that came to our mind. We’re so happy that the Nets organization and their fans have embraced it. We’ve had a ton of celebrities spotted wearing this. Justin Bieber (wore the shirt on Jimmy Fallon), Jamie Foxx wore the T and sweatshirt on SNL. Busta Rhymes, and Fabulous have also taken the stage wearing Sportiqe HELLO BROOKLYN T’s.

BF: What does Sportiqe have planned for Nets apparel for next season?

Franklin: The goal at Sportiqe every season is to continue to evolve fashion for the fan. We not only make this commitment to the Brooklyn Nets, but we make it to every NBA team. When fans see Sportiqe product in the marketplace they should know that the garment is coming from people as passionate about their team as they are. The garments will fit great and be trend right.

BF: How does Sportiqe appeal to the Nets fan-base, which is more fashion-conscious than fans of other NBA teams?

Franklin: Sportiqe is hitting a certain niche in terms of lifestyle apparel that is appealing to fans across the country.

BF: How did Sportiqe come up with the idea for Grateful Dead NBA t-shirts? Was this Bill Walton’s doing?

Franklin: The Grateful Dead has some of the most passionate and devoted music fans out there. The NBA has some of the most passionate and devoted fans in all of sports. We are constantly talking to our customers and asking for feedback. We noticed that a lot of NBA fans were also Grateful Dead fans, we thought it would be the perfect collaboration. After the collaboration was announced Mr. Walton and his wife reached out to Sportiqe to express their excitement about the partnership.

BF: Which Nets player would Jerry Garcia have appreciated the most?

Franklin: Brook Lopez went to Stanford, and the Grateful Dead was formed in San Francisco, so I gotta believe Jerry would be rooting for a local kid.