For the latest fashion trend, women are looking no further than their husbands' gym lockers. Jerseys from all the major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL) are being refitted and restyled for women as dresses--and they are selling beyond anybody's expectations. "The NBA's women's business is going to see fivefold growth this year from last season," says Sal LaRocca, the NBA's senior vice president of global merchandising. The league has launched an entire clothing line (NBA4Her) marketed to women. Reebok, which is an NBA and NFL licensee, delivered its first line of women's sports-jersey dresses in January. Already it's the company's best-selling item in the women's category. Hip-hop star Eve, who appears in Reebok's new ad campaign for sports-jersey dresses, is credited with being at the head of the movement. "I had an NFL jersey feminized for her performance at the 2002 NFL season launch party in Times Square, which Vogue later called 'NFL Couture,'" says celebrity fashion stylist Alexander Allen. And the look had perhaps its most visible showing at the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta in February. During her half-time performance, Mariah Carey wore two skintight Michael Jordan jerseys that had been customized into gowns.
Just how big can the trend get? Big enough so that even former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks is getting into the action. His G-III women's clothing line is devoted in part to jersey fashions. Says former quarterback crusher Banks: "In a time when women are striving to prove their equality to men, it goes to show, anything boys can do, girls can do better."