[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from long-time reader and contributor Jeremy Brahm, who will tell us the story of two designers (and sisters!) you’ve probably never heard of, but in Japan, they’re responsible for an amazing array of uniforms. Enjoy! — PH]
The Koshino Sisters: From the Runway to the Court, the Floor and the Field
by Jeremy Brahm
To Uni-Watch readers, we are so accustomed to teams having multiple designs to their uniforms in many different leagues and colleges. However, when you look when teams started to create a “brand,” it was probably the Charlotte Hornets and their work with Alexander Julian to establish the teal and purple. However, to most people of the day, Julian’s regular work would not be considered worthy of the Paris runways, and this is where Japan flipped the script during its economic boom through two sisters Junko and Hiroko Koshino.
Both sisters are from the Osaka area and attended the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. During their as college students each sister became known for their work. Hiroko opening her first store in the Shinsaibai district of Osaka. In 1978 Junko held her first show in Paris, while Hiroko would have her first show in Europe in Rome in the same year. From there both sisters work was considered part of the must-see shows during Paris Fashion Week.
As the Japanese economic boom kept moving on as the sisters were displaying their work in Paris, at the end of the 1988 season Japanese baseball saw the movement of the Osaka based Nankai Hawks to the city of Fukuoka after being purchased the Daiei grocery store chain. Daiei who would have to wait until 1993 to open the Fukuoka Dome, decided that it wanted to make a splash with its new uniforms. The team hired men’s designer Issey Miyake and the orange and brown pin stripes may have been lukewarm, the team hawk’s head helmet was memorable and still loved.
Around this time, the Japanese Volleyball Association approached Asics who then approached Junko Koshino and essentially asked them to update our look for the men’s national team. Here is the look for the team in 1991 in red and blue.
As Japan was one of the participants in the FIVB World League as part of the preparation for the Barcelona Olympics, the designs of Junko Koshino reached the court for the first time. For me as someone who was interested in volleyball, when I saw them for the first time, it was stunning and in a good way. Multiple colors in solid blocks of red and black, with lines splitting the body into sections, including the sleeves and shorts. Let alone the kneepads and socks were a part of the design as well. And Lastly that these colors did also alternate from front and back, or left and right, including the kneepads and socks!
Still these would not the only works created by Junko Koshino for the volleyball team. As the team traveled to Barcelona for the games, they received two new designs, similar in nature. One was florescent orange with black lettering which would also adopt the alternating colors on the kneepads and socks.
One thing that you can barely see in the last photo is that underneath the number on the shorts is the players name, which can be seen here (so is NOFS?). The Japanese team would also wear a black and florescent yellow version with florescent yellow lettering.
Still four different designs in one year for volleyball was a lot in those days.
In 1993, Junko Koshino continued with her work the volleyball team and she used two different gradation patterns, dark blue to light blue with florescent yellow lettering and purple to light green with white lettering.
Additionally as Junko Koshino’s work was more recognized other Japanese sports groups looked to her for help. In 1993, the Japanese Olympic Committee had her create the 2nd logo for them. In 1994, the Yomiuri Giants had her design their ground jackets.
In 1995, Kawasaki Verdy (now Tokyo Verdy) which was also owned by the Yomiuri Newspaper had her design the uniforms.
After her sister Junko had gotten recognition for her work in the sport world, Hiroko Koshiko was asked by the Kintetsu Buffaloes to create a new look for the team as the moved into the Osaka Dome. The Buffaloes had used essentially the same design since 1974. Hiroko went bold and modern with her look.
She gave the Buffaloes a five-color scheme, Buffaloes White, Buffaloes Orange, Buffaloes Blue, Buffaloes Navy and Buffaloes Red. Let alone putting Kintetsu in a cursive yet readable script. Plus, with the team moving from the suburbs of Fujiidera actually into the city proper, adding Osaka to the sleeve. One odd quirk for the navy and blue versions of the uniform were different colored numbers on the front and the back, which also swapped the script color for the name on the back of the jersey.
When Osaka was added to the team’s name two years later as the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes, Kintetsu moved to the sleeve and Osaka was made in cursive on the red and navy versions.
In 1998, Junko was hired by the Japan Keirin Association to design nine individual uniforms for the 1999 Keirin Grand Prix.
In 1999, she was asked to return to design for the Keirin Grand Prix.
After Hiroko’s experience with the Buffaloes, who had then merged with the Orix Blue Wave to become the Orix Buffaloes, she was then hired by the Hanshin Tigers to create a look for the team’s interleague games in 2007. For the first time in the history of the Tigers, they would use a script for the team’s name. The home whites would have black raglan sleeves to go with their black pinstripes with yellow script and numbers. The road design would have black tops with yellow pinstripes, script and numbers with grey pants. Also, Hiroko added yellow highlights on the cap and brim.
In 2010, the Japanese Gymnastics Assocation, hired Hiroko to create a design for both the men’s and women’s national teams. In June 2010, it was introduced through a press release by Mizuno as a butterfly design. Hiroko stated with the design, that I want you to dance beautifully and brilliantly like a butterfly and fly to the world.
For the Japanese men, it was a successful design with them finishing second in the team event and Kohei Uchimura winning the individual all-around title, plus a silver and bronze in specific apparatus.
This week, Hiroko revealed her most recent work with the Japanese women’s soccer team INAC Kobe Leonessa. With the creation of the new WE LEAGUE to be a professional women’s soccer league in Japan, Many of the teams in the league are tied to J-League squads, but INAC is not one of them. As three-time champions of the Nadeshiko League 1st division INAC wanted to be bold with their look and asked Hiroko for her time and she delivered a very distinct look.
The design is meant to “Play Around the Music” and has a piano (keys implied) on the left, possibly a cello in the middle and a violin on the right side.
The first uniform is the red base, the second uniform is the white base. For the goalkeepers, the first choice is the blue base, while the second choice is the green base.
— Jeremy Brahm (@jeremybrahm) April 15, 2021
One interesting quirk of the numbers is that the colors are not the same on the uniform model. On the red first uniform, the numbers of light blue. On the white second they are red. On the first choice for the goalkeepers’s blue uniform, the numbers are purple and on the second choice of the green uniform, it is yellow.
For nearly 30 years, the Koshino sisters have created memorable designs with these numerous teams and not even to mention their normal work. The question we should ask the sisters, Junko (at 81) and Hiroko (at 84) is what is next on their sports path?
Guess The Game…
from the scoreboard
Today’s scoreboard comes from Charles Miner.
The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).
Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):
Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.
Time for more Uni Tweaks from the UW readership.
I hope you guys like this feature and will want to continue to submit your concepts and tweaks to me. If you do, Shoot me an E-mail (Phil (dot) Hecken (at) gmail (dot) com).
It’s rare when I get two separate tweaks from two separate individuals that are essentially the same tweak — which either proves great minds think alike, or everyone just hates the current Arizona Cardinals unis…
Today’s first set of concepts comes from Morris Belleville:
Good morning Phil,
Please find attached a uni concept for the Arizona Cardinals.
A lot of people have said that the Cardinals uniform is too busy and needs to go back to basics. I have tried my hand at this with one notable exception – adding Copper to the color set. I thought the Arozina Wranglers had a great color set in the USFL. However, the Cardinals are not going to change their name any time to the Wranglers, so I thought this would be the next best thing: Adding copper, getting the uniform back to its roots, and adding a red facemask.
And here are his designs:
And next up is Jay Braiman, who says…
Thought I’d send you this thing I threw together with my severely limited Paint skills (you may have seen it on FB already) to suggest how the Arizona Cardinals should/could adapt and adopt the 1984 Arizona Wranglers (USFL) uniform with just three changes: (1) pre-2005 Cardinal head on the helmet; (2) AZ state flag on the sleeve, and (3) pants stripes instead of flames.
Probably too low-res and low-concept for the blog, but let me know what you think. Hope all is well and hope we can do a Uni Watch get-together later this year.
OK readers (and concepters). If you have some tweaks or concepts, shoot ’em my way with a brief description of your creation and I’ll run ’em here.
Man(cave) of Steal
Check this out:
Kansas City native Kent Corser has built a Man Cave celebrating Rickey Henderson — aka the “Man Cave of Steal”. As the name implies, his collection celebrates the spectacular career of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. He was recently featured on my buddy Shawn Anderson’s HOVG Cribs. If you’re into collecting, you’ll definitely enjoy this 7 minute peek…
Click to enlarge
ITEM! New Pin Club launch: Paul here. Now that the calendar has turned to May, it’s time for our latest Uni Watch Pin Club launch. This month we’re keeping it simple and classic with a Uni Watch baseball cap pin, which you can order here.
A few notes:
• This the first Pin Club pin that doesn’t include the words “Uni Watch.” We thought it was better to let the design speak for itself.
• The little white “21” stands for the year, obviously, and is meant to mimic the little cap inscriptions that MLB players sometimes use as a shout-out to injured or fallen teammates.
• Numbered edition of 200 pins.
Again, the pin is available here. Enjoy!
Now back to Phil with the rest of today’s content.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: The new “rally” helmet in baseball appears to be a hockey helmet (from Multiple readers). That’s Kyle Schwarber donning one, and you can read more about that here. … This article asks, Why aren’t teams giving away branded masks as promo items? (from John Cerone). … Texas-based RSN has begun using wider camera shots behind the pitcher to allow for more on-screen ad space (from Thomas Foote). … The Madison Mallards have a new look for 2021 (from MiLB Promos). You can read more about that here. Their team store also has a pair of hats labeled as the Home Blue and Away Cream game hats. … If you’re interested, here’s Padres uni tracking for April (from Padres Uni Tracker). … Yesterday, Ole Miss was wearing camo hats and batting helmets (and will all weekend) for military appreciation (from Timmy Donahue). … I’m not normally a fan of softball tops (especially when both teams go that route), but I gotta agree with David Payne who felt this A’s vs O’s tilt was an “elite uniform matchup.” … The Mets wore their royal road alternates (and won) yesterday in Philly, but Francisco Lindor took BP in a black alternate jersey (from Tim Kelly). … The Brewers have a bit of a rarity: a new catcher with #0 (from Garrett Van Auken). … Has the Cubs logo…grown? Erez Schatz writes, “to me it seems like the Cubs insignia, both the Cubs and the one with the Bear are humongous to a point the uniform moves differently because of the size and weight at the left hand side. I’ve compared both the sketch and an image, and to me it definitely looks much larger on the actual uniform.” … I pretty much hate PFPS (especially when it’s connected to breast cancer/mother’s day), but for some reason, I absolutely loved Fernando Tatis Jr.’s fucshia cleats yesterday.
Football News: Carroll College, an NAIA school in Montana, has unveiled championship rings for winning the Frontier Conference title (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Reveille X, Texas A&M’s newest live collie mascot, has officially begun her duties. … ICYMI: here’s a look at many draftees with their new team jerseys (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … The Nevada Wolf Pack unveiled new helmets yesterday for the 2021 season. The primary features a proprietary metallic silver-flake painted Riddell shell and a chrome face mask. Like last season, the script logo and player number are on the sides (from Dave Calvert). … Was it destiny? New Dallas Cowboys WR Simi Fehoko shared a childhood photo of himself in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. … Here’s a very interesting potential NOB situation to look for: the Jets took two different guys named Michael Carter (from Walter Young). Not only that, one is from Duke & one from UNC (from James Gilbert). … Here’s a look at the “Top 5 aTm unis” of the past decade. … Aside from becoming the #1 pick, new Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence set the record for most jersey sales by a rookie on the night of the NFL draft.
Hockey News: In what is perhaps an unusual move, the Columbus Blue Jackets wore blue breezers with their white jerseys last night; they normally wear red pants (from multiple readers). The blue pants are from their reverse retro unis. … Potential big uni news: Trent Guyer writes, “At the Arsenal store at the Golden Knights practice arena in Summerlin, Nev, they’re telling customers the gold alternate sweater is going to become the primary.” Their current primary is, of course, gray. … Here’s a detailed look at a new mask for Panthers G Chris Driedger (from Wade Heidt).
Soccer News: Not too much soccer news these days, but the West Virginia Highlanders FC have introduced their debut uniforms (from Ed Żelaski).
Grab Bag: You may not have noticed, but the New York Times thinks Joe Biden has become quite the sharp dresser since his inauguration (from Tom Turner). … But is it? Reader Jeffrey Sak says, “I hate this logo…It’s a right hand.” But if you look closely, it appears to be a deliberate hand print, making it a left hand, no? What say you, Uni Watchers? … Walmart has filed papers opposing a trademark from Kanye West’s Yeezy brand that the retail giant says is too similar to its own “spark” logo and could cause confusion among consumers (from John Cerone). … Also from John (and ICYMI), burger chain White Castle has unveiled its 100th Birthday (not anniversary) logo. … Here’s an interview with the top-ranking enlisted Marine, who discusses the process of designing and creating the Corps’ new workout uniforms (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Alabama is considering removing the Confederate flag from its coat of arms. … More from Kary: IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe has added a mustache to his racing helmet as a tribute to his late father. … Here’s a breakdown of the helmets drivers will be wearing for this year’s edition of Formula 1’s Portuguese Grand Prix (from Kary, again). … And one last one from Kary — size apparently is everything: A psychological study has found that men who wear large logos on their clothing are less likely to be committed relationship partners. … David Letterman had dolls made featuring his trademark 3-striped shoes (here’s a look at them on his feet. From James Gilbert).
Uni Tweet of the Day
After seeing this, I really hope the NFL scraps the one-shell rule and allows white helmets…
— Brad Stainbrook (@BrownsByBrad) May 1, 2021
And finally… that’s it for this weekend — big thanks to Jeremy for that really cool look at the design work of the Koshino sisters — fun stuff!
Everyone stay safe and healthy and I’ll catch you back here next Saturday.