LDRS 1354 X 47 BRAND ‘SAVOY BLACK FIVES’ PROJECT / by Pelnyc

It was truly a blessing and a privilege to work on the Black Fives collaborative project.  This unique project was organized by premium sports lifestyle brand ’47 brand to commemorate the pioneering African American basketball teams of the Black Fives Era. These pioneers paved the path to what would become our modern NBA. Often under celebrated, this was an awesome  opportunity to contribute to the legacy of the Black Fives and share the narrative of these heroes with a younger audience. I also felt blessed to be part of the project because Claude Johnson, founder of the Black Fives, just happened to be one of the first people that I ever met in the fashion industry.

The Savoy Big Five basketball team, circa 1927. Left to right, assistant coach Robert “Bobby” Anderson, Randolph Ramsey, Inman Jackson, William Watson, Tommy Brookins, Joe Lillard, William Grant, Walter “Toots” Wright, Lester Johnson, and manager/coach Dick Hudson.

The Savoy Big Five basketball team, circa 1927. Left to right, assistant coach Robert “Bobby” Anderson, Randolph Ramsey, Inman Jackson, William Watson, Tommy Brookins, Joe Lillard, William Grant, Walter “Toots” Wright, Lester Johnson, and manager/coach Dick Hudson.

The Black Fives celebrates seven of the original Black Five teams. In collaboration with 47  brand and a hand selected group of premium streetwear retailers curated by Jeff Staple.  Retailers were paired by the teams home city: New York Rens of Harlem (Reed Space), Savoy Big Five of Chicago (LDRS), Philadelphia Panthers (Villa), Independent Pleasure Club of New Jersey (Packer), Washington 12 Streeters (Major), Monticello Athletic Association of Pittsburgh (Shop 412), and Los Angeles Red Devils (Hall of Fame). To my knowledge,  its the first time that any apparel collection has been designed through a series of collaborations with industry-leading exclusive urban lifestyle boutiques.   

I was amped when my good friend Corey Gilkey, the owner of Leaders 1354, asked me to participate by designing the his stores capsule for the collaboration. The task was to put a modern spin on the off court apparel for the infamous Chicago,  Savoy Big Five.  The original Black Five Era team whose games were hosted at the famous Chicago Savoy Ballroom.