Black Women Revolutionized Women’s Sports Merch, And Don’t Let Anyone Make You Think Otherwise
If I were tasked with creating a core capsule of pieces from the 2000s that serve as sartorial signs of the times, jersey dresses would be filed right between sneaker heels and Girbaud jeans. Mariah Carey, Mya and Beyoncé are just a few of the revered starlets who have paid stylistic homage to a bevy of sports franchises through their wardrobes. These looks were often sported, no pun intended, on some of the biggest platforms within our culture. From the baby blue North Carolina jersey dress Mya rocked in the “Best of Me, Part 2” music video to Mariah Carey’s fitted, floor-length rendition of a Wizard’s Jersey she wore to perform at the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, these looks were cultural standouts you could not miss.
This has made a recent discussion online all the more confusing for many users. Recently, sports content creator and influencer Mariah Rose shared a tweet congratulating Kristin Juszczyk, the wife of San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, for “proving that women’s sports merch doesn’t have to be hideous.” Juszczyk has designed numerous variations of sports-inspired outfits for wives and girlfriends of professional athletes, including Taylor Swift.
This was met with so much backlash that it was hard to not feel bad for the original poster. But as unfun as dog piles can be, many of the replies were right on the money. The intersection of sports culture and fashion has been a pillar of streetwear since its inception with Black entertainers at the helm.
The culture of turning sports jerseys into dresses is so deeply enmeshed in Y2K-era culture: Victoria Monét paid homage to the sports-inspired garbs in her “On My Mama” music video, a resounding tribute to the defining styles of that era.
The outfits Juszczyk has designed are nothing to scoff at, and she has certainly paved her own lane in the world of customizable sports fashion. But the framing of the tweet is disingenuous in a manner that risks further discrediting the very real impact Black women have and continue to wield in the fashion space.
The creative output of Black women rarely receives due acknowledgment, especially relative to our actual influence on the major trend cycles of the last several decades. We are constantly on the brink of being erased from the cultural movements we spawned, and tweets like this, no matter how good-natured, only further that rhetoric.