Today, in partnership with the Black Fives brand, HOMAGE launched a new vintage-inspired graphic t-shirt collection featuring team logos of the all-Black basketball teams that played between 1904, when basketball was first introduced to African Americans on a wide-scale organized basis, until the racial integration of the National Basketball League in the 1940s and the National Basketball Association in 1950.

The partnership will benefit the Black Fives Foundation, a 501(c)3 public charity whose mission is to inspire excellence by preserving, teaching, and honoring that once-forgotten and important history. 

Photo: Homage

The launch coincides with “Black Fives Day” for the City of New York, celebrated on Feb. 10 since 2013 by Mayoral Proclamation through efforts of the Barclays Center in recognition of basketball’s Black Fives Era and in appreciation of Claude Johnson’s and the Brooklyn Nets’ commitment to preserving an invaluable piece of the city’s history.

“Apparel is a language of its own so that these outspoken vintage graphics will start conversations,” said Black Fives Foundation founder Claude Johnson, a historian and award-winning author of “The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era.”

He added, “Homage is a perfect partner because they are known for their comfortable, high-quality tees and for caring about the inspiring history behind them.”

There were dozens of Black Fives Era basketball teams, and the first capsule from the collection will honor a selection of 16 of them with t-shirt designs featuring their historically accurate and vintage-inspired logos and colorways in distressed graphic styles. 

Included in this first grouping is the New York Rens, the first Black-owned, all-Black, fully professional basketball team in history. From 1923 to 1949, the Rens played 3,117 games, about 125 a season, with an 83% winning percentage, the equivalent of an NBA team winning 70 games a season for 25 years in a row, yet even New York City has no memorial to commemorate their existence. The Black Fives Foundation seeks to change that.  

The Black Fives teams featured in the collection include:

  • Atlantic City Vandals
  • Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn
  • Savoy Big Five of Chicago
  • Cincinnati Lion Tamers
  • Cafe Five of Franklin, Indiana
  • Alpha Physical Culture Club of Harlem
  • St. Christopher Club of Harlem
  • Los Angeles Red Devils
  • Milwaukee Colored Panthers
  • Owl Field Club of Newark
  • New York Rens of Harlem
  • Cudahy Rex of Omaha
  • Philadelphia Panthers
  • Monticello Athletic Club of Pittsburgh
  • Washington 12 Streeters
  • Washington Bears

“The pioneering teams of the Black Fives Era not only elevated but shaped the game we know and love today,” said Ryan Vesler, founder and CEO of HOMAGE.

“Our hope is that this collection resonates with younger generations, spurring interest and conversation in the Black Fives that continues for years to come.”

The Black Fives x HOMAGE collection is available exclusively on starting today with T-shirts in unisex adult sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, and 3XL for $36 USD.

Photo: Homage

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