Inside the Closet of a Jersey Collector

"All fashion is like a revolving door, eventually something that went out is going to come back around." - Bobby

Photographer @gangsta_toast | Senior Editor @youdontknow_jak
Having a great collection, of anything, means obtaining a great passion for something and having extreme care in quality, history and over-all appeal. For our first edition of VILLA Collectors, we caught up with a professional in this department. With an extensive knowledge of sneaker culture and a wardrobe to match, it's no surprise that Bobby would also be a serious collector of sports jerseys. Read the interview below and get to know Bobby and all of his 139 best buddies.
What got you into collecting jerseys/How did it all start?
I’ve always worn jerseys of my favorite teams or players when watching them play. I remember being 9 years old going to a Philadelphia 76ers game wearing a sixers warm over. When the lights went out for them to do the introductions, I took off my warm up to show off my Iverson jersey and sixers shorts like I was about to jump in the game. My parents had no idea I had that stuff on, they were cracking up but I was dead serious. I really got heavy into jerseys back in like 2003 when everyone was wearing throwbacks that were 4 sizes too big in every music video. That was the wave then but once it died, all my jerseys ended up in a box in my parents attic. I found them all in 2012 and pulled them back out and started rocking them again just to switch up my style. Luckily they all still fit because they were way too big when I was a kid.
How many jerseys do you have?
I currently have 139 jerseys from all different sports.
Give us a snippet of what your collection consists of.
My collection is mostly NBA jerseys just because growing up that was the sport I watched the most and got attached to more players but I was have a good mix of football and baseball with just a couple hockey and soccer. My pride and joy will always be my variety of Tracy McGrady jerseys, right now I have about 17 different ones. T Mac is my favorite player of all time so one of my goals is to get every jersey he’s worn, I have every team right now it’s just finding the home or away version. Ken Griffey Jr is my idol so I have a bunch of his as well but baseball jerseys are tougher to find. I just have 2 rules for my collection: I will not buy a player I don’t like and I won’t buy any fakes.
How do you keep your jerseys in good condition?
The key is to get them dry cleaned. Jerseys will get all loose and faded if you wash and dry them normally. It’s tough because some cleaners aren’t used to working with jerseys so just ask them if they’ve done it before prior to dropping them off.
What was the first item you ever collected?
Tough question because just like my sneaker “collection”, I’ve been wearing them my whole life so they’ve kind of just became part of my wardrobe. But if I had to pick one, I’d say the Iverson jersey I got autographed back in 1998. I was wearing it when I met him so he literally signed it on my back, a couple days later I saw my mom pull it out of the laundry and there was no more autograph. She forgot it was signed and washed it right off. But I know I had a Jerry Rice 49ers jersey, a Michael Jordan Bulls jersey and a Taz Space Jam jersey before that (all which I still have).
Do you have any vintage jerseys? If so, what are they?
75% of my jerseys are vintage actually, I love champion jerseys, authentic and screen printed, I even have some Starter and Puma. I guess you can even consider Nikes first go around with NBA jerseys as vintage and that was the era that I really got into it. I try to only buy jerseys from the time that that person was actually wearing it so unless it’s my favorite teams current players or a Mitchell & Ness throwback, it’s gotta be vintage.
What’s the holy grail of jerseys you are hoping to get someday?
One of my bucket list items is to collect one teams jersey from all 4 major sports but I definitely have some in mind that are priority. Just a few at the top of my list are the Wild Wings Mighty Ducks, a Fred McGriff Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and to finish off all of Tracy McGradys extensive list including his Sugarland Skeeters Minor league baseball team.
Is there any sport team jersey you will never collect?
The only team I won’t rock is Villanova since I went to Saint Joseph’s and thats our rival. I hate to see them actually winning recently but yea I will never rock any Nova gear. Other than that, I might not like a team but at some point I liked a player on that team so I’d grab their jersey just for collection purposes.
How have jerseys shaped our culture in terms of style and streetwear? Describe its evolution from on the court to the everyday consumer.
All fashion is like a revolving door, eventually something that went out is going to come back around. Like I mentioned earlier, I bought lot of my jerseys 15 years ago and I can wear them again and people think they’re the coolest things ever. So I really believe it’s my generation bringing back that nostalgic feel of the early 2000s fashion. You can even see it with baggy pants and Air Force 1s being the wave. Nike has also done a great job of showing that you can wear this stuff for fashion, all of their ads show it as streetwear not just on-court functionality, which I love to see. But yea I think jerseys just allow people to feel young again, take them back to the days when life was easier. Sports bring all types of people together so in this day in age, we need something that will place all hate on the back burner.
How does one go about collecting jerseys without having a whole lot of money?
Thrift!!! Not just thrift stores but eBay, Craigslist and yard sales also, jerseys have always been around but some people just don’t wear them anymore especially when they get older and times change. You can always find someone who has a bunch just sitting around and doesn’t really care about them. It’s harder now because thrifting is a movement currently but you can still luck up if you try hard enough. You can check out more of Bobby's style at @bdubbjr.