Just a few years ago the demand for throwback jerseys was impossible to ignore, with many flocking to stores in search of that item that would allow them to relive their "glory days" as a fan. But the wearing of tops has faded away somewhat, and the words of one Sean Carter in his song "What More Can I Say" may sum up why for many people.
"And I don't wear jerseys I'm 30-plus..."
So what's a college basketball fan to do if they want to travel back in time without the throwback jersey? The founders of the company Retro College Cuts have just the answer: throwback shorts. Founded in 2011 by a pair of former college basketball players, Retro College Cuts specializes in the selling of replicas of game shorts worn by some of the more famous teams in college basketball history.
According to one of the founders the NCAA merchandising market grosses anywhere from $4-$4.5 billion, but the shorts market only makes up about $50 million of that amount. But while there's certainly a market for replica game shorts, this business isn't solely about making money.
"It started with my own crazy interest and passion for college basketball," he noted in a phone conversation earlier this week when asked about the reason for beginning the company. "I'm a former college basketball player and my dad was a Division III coach."
That devotion and knowledge of college basketball is noticeable from the moment you visit the site, as a highlight montage featuring some of the top players and teams of yesteryear plays. Each of the fourteen shorts in the first "class" has a story, with a paragraph of information on that specific team accompanying the page where customers can buy the shorts of their choice. There's also a link to a YouTube video for each team, which helps bring back memories of the "glory days" that each short is made to represent.
One may ask why there are only fourteen teams represented at this point, and this was a question posed to the founder during our chat. There are three different governing bodies when it comes to applying for the rights to sell officially licensed collegiate apparel, and they need to be negotiated with separately. Retro College Cuts was able to procure those rights with two of them and are currently negotiating with the third, which will open up the possibility of additions being made to the "catalog" later this year.
Retro College Cuts isn't just about shorts either as they also sell select retro T-shirts. They also offer a "combo" deal where customers can purchase a shirt and a pair of shorts for $99, a price that includes membership in their VIP program (which gives a 10% off discount for life) and free shipping (a perk that normally isn't given unless $75 or more is spent in a transaction). And $1 of every purchase is donated to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, which is another positive.
But what about the quality of the short? Made in the USA, the shorts are made of a fabric blend that replicates the weight and quality of an actual game short. The shorts are comfortable and with a 22" outseam there's no concern of replicating the size of those old-school shorts (which is good from a personal pride standpoint). The graphics are digitally printed and as an officially licensed product there's isn't a concern of being duped into buying something that isn't legit. From personal experience I can tell you that the shorts, which run large, fit well and look good.
Retro College Cuts also has a few promotions running that you should take advantage of in addition to checking out the gear. Twitter is utilized on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the "TIXonTUESDAY" promotion giving Twitter followers the chance to win a pair of college basketball tickets. The possible reward for "ThrowbackThursday" is either a retro t-shirt or a pair of replica game shorts. The "cost" of entry: just a simple follow of their Twitter account and a retweet of the message that they send out.
Lastly there's the contest that the founders are running, which closes on February 24th with a prize that the college hoops fan would definitely appreciate: an all-expenses paid trip for two (the winner and a guest of their choice) to Las Vegas for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. The prize includes a three-day stay at The Hotel boutique and round-trip airfare, and with Vegas being what it is on that weekend the experience would be a phenomenal one.
Retro College Cuts is a new company that should meet the demand of college basketball fans hoping for a way to relive some of their favorite moments from back in the day in a fashion beyond searching the web for grainy video footage. The shorts certainly won't turn you into a Mark Jackson, Larry Johnson or Xavier McDaniel (our phone chat included the founder saying that the Wichita State design was his favorite) once you put them on, but they'll allow you to think back on their exploits and smile.