March Madness is all about the moments.
Christian Laettner’s indelible turnaround, game-winning shot. Tyus Edney going coast-to-coast for the win. A jubilant Jimmy V running around the court searching for someone to hug. Magic and Bird squaring
Oh, and don’t forget about the iconic unis and shorts, which evoke instant nostalgia and connect us back to the fond moments of yesteryear. Those shorts—and the memories they trigger—are now available in the marketplace.
Meet 19nine, the world’s only throwback college basketball apparel company, aptly located in basketball’s Heartland of Indiana. Founded by Josh Barnett, Aaron Loomer and Chad Amo in 2011, 19nine—a nod to the old distance for the college three-point line—focuses on recreating retro shorts and vintage t-shirts that celebrate college basketball history and the players and teams we love.
“What we have found is people don’t really buy a shirt or pair of shorts,” Barnett told SLAM. “What they are buying is the story. The better the story, the better the response to a product. Nostalgia plays a huge part in what we try to do.”
19nine currently has licenses with 22 universities—including Indiana, Purdue, St. John’s, Wake Forest, Xavier, UNLV and Bird and Magic’s alma maters of Michigan State and Indiana State, respectively—with two more schools coming on board this March, dropping the moment brackets are revealed on Selection Sunday.
How fitting, especially for a company hyper-focused on marrying quality feel and timeless authenticity.
“It was extremely important for us to bring the vintage feel of the ’80s and ’90s to our shorts,” Barnett remarked. “Our mesh-poly blend to give the shorts the heavy feel of yesteryear but with a smooth inside lining for the comfort of today.”
Barnett and company take their mission—capturing the emotion, essence and look of theirs schools’ most memorable teams of the past—very seriously.
“In a sense, we view ourselves as the curators of college basketball history and we tell that story through apparel. We don’t want to let these players, teams, coaches, moments go un-celebrated,” Barnett said.
With the calendar getting ready to flip toward the onset of Madness, 19nine will be busy watching games, shipping product and executing toward their greater vision of becoming a licensed vendor of all Power-5 Conference teams.
“Every school has a great story to tell and we’d love to be the ones tasked with doing so,” he said. “I think it’s literally impossible to run out of college basketball stories to tell but until we do, there’s work left to do.”