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What are Retro Jerseys?

Matt Brady
Matt Brady

Retro jerseys, otherwise known as throwback jerseys or throwbacks, are uniforms worn by a sports team that look exactly like jerseys worn by that organization in the past. Such jerseys are generally well-loved both by fans and by the teams that wear them. Even when there's a general consensus that an old jersey is inferior to a new uniform design, many people still enjoy seeing older jerseys for their historical value. In some cases, retro jerseys may be worn by a single team or by an entire league to pay homage to a past significant time, event or individual. Throwback jerseys are often sold as merchandise alongside a team's current style of jersey.

Sports teams that wear retro jerseys sometimes don't wear exact replicas of their old uniforms. It's not uncommon for elements of a modern-day uniform to remain in place even when a team is wearing throwbacks. For example, a team may adopt a uniform design that predates the practice of printing players’ names on the backs of jerseys; and although it would be most historically accurate to keep names off of the back of retro jerseys, a league may opt to maintain that practice even as throwbacks are being worn.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Retro jerseys have been known to have an influence on modern-day uniform styles. In some cases, a sporting team will incorporate elements of old jerseys into its new uniform. In other cases, a team may even completely readopt an old logo design or color scheme. Of course, teams stop short of adopting elements of old uniforms that don't incorporate modern safety practices. For example, replacing modern hard plastic helmets with old leather helmets would never fly, although a team might attempt to design a plastic helmet that resembles old leather styles.

Retro jerseys have proved to be popular merchandise for many different sports. Fans will often buy jerseys in order to wear throwbacks along with their favorite team. Often, even when a team is no longer wearing a particular retro jersey, fans will continue to wear them on game days, perhaps as a way of showing their level of fandom while also standing out from the rest of the crowd. Retro jerseys tend to sell at prices comparable to a team's modern uniform. Of course, if a retro jersey is in fact the real deal — an authentic jersey worn by a past player — it can be extremely valuable, especially if in good condition and accompanied by an autograph.

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