In 2019, the United Kingdom will host Major League Baseball for the very first time.
MLB has already ventured to Australian and Japanese shores, but next summer will showcase baseball’s arrival in Europe. Interest in the sport has been simmering away for years on the continent and fans will finally get to see games in person as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees slug it out at the London Stadium.
It’s the latest example of an American-based sport displaying its distinctly worldwide appeal. MLB are now seeing the fruits of their labours as fans who have staunchly supported from thousands of miles away get their chance to see the star players live.
The baseball aesthetic has long influenced street fashion in Europe. From jerseys to caps, MLB clothing associated with a certain team has become a way for fans to show their affinity for the team and all that is the culture of that city.
The attire has become a way for baseball to enter mainstream culture and the public domain to spread awareness, interest and pride. And as the official on-field uniform of MLB, Majestic Athletic boasts an undeniable influence within baseball and beyond.
Their clothing line’s style and sporting links have proven invaluable to sports jerseys’ wider role in culture and lifestyle. Although baseball has always carried an influence abroad, it’s in part through the iconic jerseys that supporters from across the globe have become so invested in the sport that birthed and championed them.
Now that the game itself is coming across the pond, there has never been a clearer demonstration of MLB’s tight link to fashion and wider culture.
In particular, the music and entertainment industry has been happy to receive and display their products.
When Detroit-based rapper Eminem – the highest selling hip hop artist of all time – made his long-awaited return in 2009, he took the decision to shoot the music video for ‘Beautiful’ in an unlikely location. Accompanied by young fans in jerseys, Marshall Mathers stood on the pitch of the Tigers stadium as it was slowly dismantled around him.
Fast forward to 2014 and Detroit Tigers gifted the rapper a special ‘Mathers 8’ jersey during The Monster Tour with Rihanna. Four years after that, and the limited-edition shirts were released to the public, complete with the trademark reversed ‘E.’
From standing in the franchise’s stadium as it was pulled to the ground, to literally putting his name to a jersey – Eminem seldom shows his affection for the ‘Motor City’ finer than with his association to the Tigers. Mathers, however, is just one example of sports clothing and jerseys’ spread into the world of entertainment.
Drake boasts a similarly close association with the Toronto Blue Jays. He collaborated in 2013 to release a limited-edition cap featuring his OVO Owl logo; enjoys a close relationship with Majestic and even used an image of the Blue Jays’ World Series victory in 1993 as cover art for his diss track ‘Back to Back.’
Meanwhile, as recently as May 2018, London rapper AJ Tracey donned a Los Angeles Dodgers jersey for the music video of his single ‘Butterflies.’ The shirt allowed him to bring a unique style and elements of LA to the film, shot across various locations in the similarly summery Trinidad and Tobago.
Sportswear has always been prominent in the entertainment industry and artists like Jay-Z don’t limit themselves to their local teams. The 48-year-old has been seen sporting the jerseys of the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels throughout his career.
It isn’t because the rapper holds some kind of disloyalty towards New York or the Yankees, it’s because jerseys have become much more than a sign of support for a local team.
The music of these artists can span their country and beyond, necessitating the need to associate with other groups, cultures and causes. And there are few swifter ways than via sporting clothing that encapsulates a city’s hero and public with its association to top players and body of supporters.
Sports clothing is at the centre of a cultural triumvirate of music, fashion and sport.
As a result, it’s apt that hip hop has so often been the face of sports clothing in the entertainment industry. While now mainly associated with rap, hip hop was born on the principal of culture, as an amalgamation of DJing, emceeing, graffiti and break dancing.
So just as the very genre assembles artists, vocalists and dancers, sports fashion is a way through which hip hop’s figureheads can symbolize their connection with a wide, eclectic group of people.
It’s abundantly clear that with a few alterations, attire once solely associated with stadium-goers can percolate into mainstream and celebrity culture. Many will cite the early 2000s as the height of the sports clothing trend – in spite of recent fashion spikes – yet sports and music continue to mingle in their own unique way.
In fact, such is the prevalence of this trend that not only are celebrities and music artists picking and choosing sports fashion, but they are helping to dictate it themselves. And, naturally, it provides an entirely new perspective on the sub-culture.
What sports team you support and the music you listen to can influence who you associate with, where you frequent and your wider interests. So, it’s only apt sports fashion is so ensconced in mainstream entertainment.
It’s no detriment to the clothing’s origin that sports fashion has gained far more cultural significance than simply amongst its fan-bases. In actual fact, it is credit to these games that their presence in fashion has brought people together who may previously have never associated with sport.
Both sport and music unify in their own ways yet to millions, their appeal and personal meanings are intrinsically linked. And nothing demonstrates music and sport’s close connection quite like the yarns and threads that entwine them.
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