The Harlem Globetrotters interview on their fashion influence

When Louis “Sweet Lou” Dunbar first donned the starry blue Harlem Globetrotters jersey in 1977, the current head coach knew he was joining the team that looked as good as it played. The theatrics of spinning passes without a look and playing catch with the ref in the middle of a fast break captured the imagination, but doing it in remixed versions of the American flag captured the eye. The DNA of today’s NBA fashion has its roots in Globetrotters who dare to experiment when no one else would.

On or off the pitch, their style was revered. Their swimwear graced the runways of New York Fashion Week. Dunbar remembers his teammate Dallas Thorton traveling from New York to London to style his hair in the clothes of a tailor he knew there. The team has never been confined to conventions, not even their own. In October 2021, they changed their iconic jerseys to an all-black version for the first time in over 95 years of history. Some of the new generation Globetrotters have already seen a change in the perception of the team’s style, moving from vintage to avant-garde.

“Usually I would see people wearing Globetrotters uniforms on Halloween; they dress up as Harlem Globetrotters. But now some of my friends just go out to lunch in my jersey,” Globetrotters guard Rock “Wham” Middleton said. men’s health.

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These days, the basketball lords of ridicule have been disseminating more than fashion advice for those in need; they showed the goodwill they brought across the country. In 2022, the Harlem Globetrotters returned to network television broadcasting in the NBC series Harlem Globetrotters: play forwardan exclusive partnership with Hearst Media Production Group. Each week, the team showcased the half-court lifts and acrobatic dunks that made them a spectacle, as well as the community work they do to make them heroes.

Coach Dunbar and rising star Middleton represent two different generations of Globetrotters and spoke with men’s health on how the team’s style influence has evolved over the years, how leotards play a role in the style’s history, and what has touched their hearts since their time Play it forward.

HHow important was style to the Harlem Globetrotters?

Dunbar: The guys were always proud of how they presented themselves because they weren’t just representing themselves, they were representing the Harlem Globetrotters. That’s what we felt when I arrived. We have changed over time. I had one of my team mates come with me who is no longer with us – rest in peace Billy Ray [Hobley]. He once said, “We don’t follow trends; we put them on (laughs). This is how we rode.

Middleton: I think that’s very important to what the Globetrotters are trying to do because it shows our personality and connects us even more with the crowd and our fans. They’ll say, “Oh crap, he wears a cuff and a cuff.” That’s what I do. And that brings us a little closer.

sweet lou dunbar

Coach Dunbar, you joined the Harlem Globetrotters in 1977. WWhat hat trends do you think The Harlem Globetrotters have set in place?

Dunbar: We started the trend with long socks. I think we came here with long socks at first. We had these short shorts back then. If you look back in time, we had buckles in the front of our shorts. Nobody else did this. When I joined the Globetrotters in 1977, we had a little bow in front of red and white shorts.

Coach Dunbar, the Harlem Globetrotters’ red, white and blue jerseys were their signature look. What do you think of the switch to black jerseys?

Dunbar: I thought they were tripping (laughs). I’m old school. I’ve been here for over 40 years, man. Frankie Beverly and Maze did “Before I Let Go” over 40 years ago, and it’s still playing now. But you can’t tell people what to do with their own stuff. You have to go with the flow. I mean, one particular time we changed uniforms, but it was a play. We had these one-pieces and we had to ask the guys, “Hey, would you zip up my back (laughs)?

Bang: Wait, did you all have a jumpsuit?

Dunbar: And we had shorts on it.

Bang: You all wore leotards (laughs)?

Dunbar: It was at the time when the owner of the Globetrotters [Metromedia] also owned Ice Capades. So they asked the Ice Capades’ costume designers to make the uniforms. Believe me; it was a disaster.

Was it difficult to play?

Dunbar: It was hard for you to come out there in that onesie.

wham middleton from harlem globetrotters

RICH YES

Wham, in all your travels, are there any international cases where you’ve seen the style of the Globetrotters is displayed?

Bang: Definitely in Australia in 2022. We had a few games for a few weeks. After these weeks, everyone went home. But I stayed back and was lucky enough to have my own basketball camps all over Australia. As I was basically going back to those same cities where we had our games, I saw kids coming to my basketball camp and school tours wearing our jerseys. They went to the game not just to watch it; they took a piece home.

Coach Dunbar, when you were in the 1970s, you all played in Converse. It was definitely trendy, but how did they affect your game?

Dunbar: No discomfort. You have to remember that; we had no choice. That’s all we knew.

What was it like working on Play it forward?

Dunbar: It’s good. It’s great to be there with the players and have the chance to interact with them. But I think it’s great. It shows what these guys do on the pitch and some of the things they do off the pitch. It’s very educational.

Bang: It’s amazing how this highlights organizations and small businesses that are doing something positive for their communities and involving them. Putting them on national TV so other people know more about them is amazing.

What were your favorite moments from Play it forward?

Bang: I have to say we went to the Georgia Aquarium and spent some time with the Wounded Warrior Project. These are people who have been hurt, and they usually have PTSD and don’t get out of their homes much. This project got them out of the house, into the Georgia Aquarium, and into the water with over 100 different species of fish. It was as if they were at peace. It was a life changing experience.

Dunbar: We did something in Chicago where we went to a hockey arena at a small college where people with disabilities were playing hockey on sleds. Some of the guys had the opportunity to hang out there. It was great to see that people have developed these programs for those who can’t do it on their own. I thought that was something awesome, man.

Harlem Globetrotters

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What is the lasting impact of the Globetrotter on basketball fashion in general?

Dunbar: We revolutionized the game. We opened the door for them to experience more fashion on the pitch. We had curls (laughs). If you looked around, you had never seen anyone’s uniforms look like the Harlem Globetrotters.

Bang: We helped bring the NBA and more into the basketball world.

Keith Nelson is a writer by destiny and a journalist by passion, who has connected the dots to form an overview for Men’s Health, Vibe Magazine, LEVEL MAG, REVOLT TV, Complex, Grammys.com, Red Bull, Okayplayer and Mic , to name a few. a few.

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