If you wanted any sort of sporting paraphernalia in the pre-Internet age, you were basically stuck with whatever was in stock at your local mall. Being that I grew up in a small town in Iowa, my options were extremely limited. For this reason, my friends and I absolutely LOVED Eastbay magazine.
It was a bi-monthly catalogue that was usually around 200 pages in length, chock-full of pages and pages of every sporting accessory and clothing item you could ever want. Eastbay was nothing short of the Holy Grail for my friends and I, and whenever a new issue was released, we’d devote hours upon hours to scouring through the pages to find the latest in sports fashion and accessories.
I uncovered this gem in my parents’ home the last time I visited, and had WAY too much fun flipping through the pages. There isn’t a year or month on the cover of the issue, but it does feature Reebok’s third generation of Shaq shoes, so I’m gonna guess this is from around 1994 sometime.
Unfortunately, the scanner cut off part of these pictures, so you can’t see the full two page spread. But what we have here is the beginning of the basketball shoes section, headed up by a variety of Champion-brand shoes. I don’t think anyone under the age of 50 ever owned a pair of Champion shoes…and for that matter, few people over the age of 50 did, either. With good reason, too—these shoes are ugly as hell.
Next up are the Nike basketball shoes. VERY weak ass selection of Nike shoes. The one knock against Eastbay was that they rarely carried Nike’s best styles of shoes. I don’t know if Foot Locker and the other retail stores had some sort of exclusive on those, but it was pretty rare to find the high-end Nike basketball shoes in the pages of Eastbay. Although I do think those yellow Force ones are kinda cool.
Converse and Reebok basketball shoes are up next. Pretty weak sauce here, too, though neither company was ever really known for making good basketball shoes. The Larry Johnson Converse shoes (easily Converse’s best line) are on the far left, but unfortunately the picture got cut off.
Here we have an entire line of Patrick Ewing-brand shoes. I knew that Ewing had his own brand of shoes, but I never knew there were so many different designs. I always thought there was just a white pair and a black pair, but as you can see in this picture, there were not only a variety of colors, but also a variety of different designs and models.
I honestly wonder how much Ewing made by releasing his own line of shoe. Did having his own line earn him more or less than he would’ve made had he just signed a $3 million a year deal with Nike? I can’t imagine these shoes sold too well, as I not only knew exactly zero people who owned a pair, but can’t ever recall so much as seeing a random person wearing a pair during a basketball game or on the street.
On the second half of this page are a few Fila shoes. I believe this catalogue was released right before Fila signed Grant Hill and the brand kinda-sorta blew up for a few years.
Also on the Fila page are a pair of British Knights basketball shoes. Yes! I wonder if this pair in the picture is the pair that they’d always give away on Double Dare.
The various pages of Eastbay were littered with t-shirts that had “motivational” and “funny” sayings on them in funky typing. The quotes are necessary in the previous sentence, because most of the sayings were just cheesier than all hell.
A whole page of Dr. Marten boots, which were the height of fashion at the time.
This is the fashion section of Eastbay. It’s a little terrifying to think that people used to dress this way and think it looked good.
Boom. Here we go. Starting to get into the really good stuff. Here we have a few pages of Starter Jackets. The first pic is interesting because the guys in picture E are wearing Starter-branded half-zip Starter jackets. No team logo or name on the pouch. Just the word Starter. That’s honestly about as awesome as it gets. If I was ever walking down the street and saw a guy wearing a Starter-branded Starter jacket, I’d walk up and shake his hand. Then offer him a million dollars for his coat, and once he sold it to me, I would proceed to take over the world due to the sheer awesomeness of my Starter-branded Starter jacket (which I would wear every day of my life, even in the summer).
The second page is of the pro-sporting-team-affiliated Starter jackets that basically ever kid in the USA owned at the time. The half-zip jacket with the name of a team embroidered on the front pouch and the team’s logo on the back. An iconic artifact from the 90s.
I personally preferred Pro Player’s jackets to Starter’s, and I owned a Golden State Warriors version of that Yankees one in the left corner. Still probably the greatest Christmas present I’ve ever received from my parents. My face practically melted off from excitement when I unwrapped that thing on Xmas morn.
For some reason, there is an abundance of Looney Tunes sportswear throughout the pages of Eastbay, and it’s all absolutely hideous. The highlight of this page is the guy in picture D, who appears to have an unhealthy obsession with the Tazmanian Devil. According to the description for the shorts he’s wearing, they’re actually Tazmanian Devil boxer shorts, but the guy in the picture has what appears to be a backpack slung over his shoulder, as if he’s walking to class. So I’m confused. Regardless of if they’re boxer short or regular shorts, they’re horrible, particularly when you pair your Tazmanian Devil shorts with a Tazmanian Devil t-shirt, as the individual in this picture has opted to do.
Here are some dreadful pants and shorts branded with various pro and college team logos. In the lower right are some comic-book-style t-shirts for individual players. I always liked these shirts (I owned the Alonzo Mourning one), but seem to remember there being far, far more versions of the shirt than the eight that they have listed.
More hideous shirts. Jesus, the ones pictures in ‘C’ on the left side are just awful. Also, on the right side, there’s more fucking Looney Tunes stuff. Bastards.
The replica player jerseys! These collections are always fun to go through. Also, these jerseys are accompanied by a picture of a guy with possibly the worst form on a jumpshot that I’ve ever seen (the guy in C, the one in the Syracuse jersey).
And we end with even more ugly ass clothing. The guy on the left side in picture E takes the cake here. That hurts my eyes just looking at that.
In a perfect world, Eastbay would still have some gigantic warehouse that’s overflowing with all of these old styles of clothing, just a huge collection of whatever didn’t sell back in the day. And in an even more perfect world, they would start reselling all of this stuff for a fraction of what it’s listed for in this issue of their catalogue. If that happened, I’d probably empty out my bank account loading up on stuff.