Take A Step Back And Look Into History

After a delay in logistics and anything else that can push an online collection release these days, the Black Fives x PUMA Autumn/Winter 2022 collection just dropped in completion yesterday. The total looks include tracksuits, bombers, crews, snapbacks, and of course, sneakers.

The colors are rich and earthbound and after taking a look at the behind-the-scenes footage of the campaign; the visuals inspire higher learning (as Black Five’s aim is to always educate us on the history of the game of Basketball). Full of throwbacks to throwbacks, pennants, rally cries, and spoken word vibes. The A/W 2022 collaboration is very retro, and very nostalgic. 

Basketball in itself is a quilt in terms of history. It’s made of lots of different pieces, they are not all symmetrical, some of them go against the grain, some are old, some are new.

Claude Johnson

The campaign was shot this past summer at a studio in a reclaimed industrial factory building in Bushwick, Brooklyn by renowned photographer Myesha Evon Gardner and produced by Pryor Hill Productions, whose principals are Morehouse graduates Marttise Hill and Julius Pryor.

The design brief was simple; how does one express history in the things around us? How is history found in our daily lives? Sometimes history is a painting hanging on a wall, engraved on a bowl, or hemmed in curtains. For the A/W 2022 collection history was expressed in the art of African American quilts.

Story Quarters

What makes this collection special is the subtle reference to quilt-making. You can identify quilting in the collection’s abstract graphics that represent color blocking as done in Block Quilting. The pieces of colors are unique, yet tie together a visual story.

Claude Johnson, Executive Director of The Black Fives Foundation and author of The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era

– took the brief and traveled to Gee’s Bend, Alabama, the remote cradle of African American quilt-making. There he visited with quilt-maker Mary Ann Pettway.

Pettway, the manager, and matriarch of the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective has been making priceless quilts for generations. Pettway made her quilt selection from two boxes of throwback Black Fives jersey’s to create a one-of-a-kind piece of history that resonated directly with the theme of the collection.

Quilting is a traditional form of storytelling. Each square or section is a chapter. Each stitch connects the thread to the ultimate climatic event. Typically, one may see quilting as a pastime in most cases. A way to show off your hand-stitching skills. But for African Americans or Blacks who have these interwoven treasures neatly preserved in their attics, draped across the back of a couch, or on the edge of the bed – they hold truths to the myths of our ancestry by creative crafts of the hand.

Leaning into the historical value of our role in Basketball, quilt-making, culture, and how Black people can turn nothing into something – the vibrant collection is probably the best release yet. 

The Rens

Quick Question

Claude Johnson was kind enough to take the time and answer a few quick questions about the collection.

What is the significance of this collection; colors, theme, etc.?

“The significance is that there is a definite connection to the art of quiltmaking, the cultural nature of quilts in African American culture as being a way of communicating. Not just in the way of art or use of color, but by communicating and messaging.

Basketball in itself is a quilt in terms of history. It’s made of lots of different pieces, they are not all symmetrical, some of them go against the grain, some are old, some are new. At the end of the day, we created this sport here in America. Quiltmaking is organically part of African American history.”

Johnson continues to reference the rooted connection between the unhealthy urban living environment and the origin of basketball as a way to prevent tuberculosis in the Black community. 

“The quilting concept comes across in the apparel as well as the footwear. The colors are earth tones and grounded in nature and organic movements as the synergy between the collection and the game.”

So the PUMA collaboration seems to be going well. How many more collections are we to expect?

“It’s a long-term partnership and will continue into 2024. We have some amazing things planned and announcements coming soon about 2023. There is a new online exhibition that will focus on African American Women’s teams.”

Claude goes on to highlight more we can expect from the Black Fives foundations’ collaborative efforts. There is another collection that is going to drop under their private label with LIDS.

Which was your favorite style in this collection?

“I love the hoodie, the crewneck sweater…my favorite, favorite? It’s probably the TRC Blaze Court. It’s delayed (this season) but it’s the one featured on my post. It wears and plays as an actual on-court performance basketball shoe.”

Take a listen to Claude’s full Q&A below:

Shop the collection HERE.

To learn more about the Black Fives Foundation and its initiative to correct the narrative of the sport of Basketball visit: www.blackfives.org

Tanita Gray

Editor-In-Chief, Publisher and Founder of Last-Report.com, and CEO of Shoes Waste. Gray is a footwear, accessory and apparel designer/developer by day - writer and content architect by night. With over 17 years of experience in the fashion industry, you can find her teaching sustainability classes, drawing thumbnails, writing in her journal, giving her husband & children enormous hugs, or eating french fries.

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