Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Was original Charlotte Hornets designer compensated with barbecue?

After a brief hiatus, the franchise formerly known as the Charlotte Bobcats have now reverted back to its old name in the likes of the Charlotte Hornets.

There is an excellent article on BuzzFeed detailing the massive merchandise success of Charlotte's uniform design in the 1990s. The team's bold clash of teal and purple made it a fashion icon and the designer in charge of the phenomenon was North Carolina native and New York fashion designer Alexander Julian.

Given the wild success of the design, one might be led to believe that Julian made a fortune off his innovative combination of colors. That's apparently not true. In fact, Julian received no monetary compensation to speak of at all. Instead, he was paid in the form of some old fashioned comfort food.

The popularity of Julian’s design did not make the now 65-year-old designer a fortune. However, it may have helped him get a later gig redesigning the unis of his boyhood favorites, the Tar Heel basketball team. It also may have led to weight gain: His compensation from the Hornets came in the form of an alternative currency. “In North Carolina, ‘barbecue’ is a noun — pork shoulder, slow-cooked over a fire. It’s always been one of my favorite things,” he said. “So I said to George that he could have the uniform design for free if he FedExed five pounds of Carolina barbeque to my Connecticut home each month. An extra hundred grand didn’t mean anything to me in those days, and barbecue did.”

It remains to be seen whether Julian will start receiving regular barbecue shipments to his home from owner Michael Jordan. But my gut tells me he will not.

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