Fashion

Sports Banger is making streetwear for the masses not the hypebeast few

What happens when sportswear goes punk? See: London label Sports Banger (AKA the master of madcap hypebeast pieces for the high street masses)

What does it mean when the global accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers collaborates with Hypebeast on a reader survey called “Streetwear Impact Report”? Or when Harvard Business School uses Supreme as a case study for the future of consumer capitalism? In 2019 big business is as addicted to #hype as the kids in the queue on “drop” day. But not everyone is happy.

“It’s disgusting really, isn’t it?” says Jonny Banger, founder of proto-punk sportswear label Sports Banger. “You wear clothes to go to the rave, [not] to stand in a queue to buy more clothes. It’s not about what you’re wearing, it’s about what you do in it.”

In his design studio-cum-rave bazaar on London’s Seven Sisters Road, the artefacts of dance floor hedonism are everywhere: a shelf displays Reebok Classics in disrepair, old Ralph Lauren ads decorate the bathroom, a Lambert & Butler umbrella hangs upside down from the ceiling and a massive white pill embossed with the Mitsubishi logo lies next to his desk.

In this Aladdin’s cave of rave, Sports Banger takes aim at luxury streetwear imposters – the hazmat suit made from “golf sale” placards, the Slazenger x Sports Direct collab, Nike x NHS garms and, the most significant piece in the label’s canon, the “Free Tulisa” tee made after police arrested the N-Dubz diva in a tabloid cocaine sting.

Sports Banger makes streetwear for the high street masses, not just the hypebeast few, with the prices and availability to match. Slazenger x Sports Banger trainers sell for £30 and can be bought in Sports Direct. “For one hype kid there’s ten real kids,” says Banger. “And if you do something for real kids and they turn up, then you’re in trouble.”

Banger grew up in Colchester, Essex, where he worked at a sporting goods store that sold knock-off Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Reebok. His mother, who died when he was a teen, was a mental health nurse for the NHS and his father worked for the London Federation Of Boys’ Clubs, which helps inner-city youths through sport. Everything Banger does is inspired by his childhood: from the bootleg nature of his logo-mania to the social commentary of his T-shirts, he is the bastard child of punk provocateur Malcolm McLaren and artist Jeremy Deller. The only difference? He’s the real deal: “You can’t fake the funk,” he says. “I build sound systems. I go to free parties. I DJ and MC. All my stuff is formed from contemporary sounds. You can’t be one of these brands that are referencing rave. I’ve never seen you there in my life. It’s bullshit.”

Sports Banger: streetwear for the many, not the few.

sportsbanger.com

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