Charlotte Hornets: The Purple & Teal Game Changer
In 1988, former Charlotte Hornet's owner George Shinn reached out to Alex to design the groundbreaking and iconic basketball uniforms. Alex's favorite and signature color combination has always been purple and teal and it was a perfect match for his new basketball project. Lucky for the Hornets, Alex not only designed the jerseys but quickly pointed out that the organization was using a forest green in their stadium, not a teal, a problem Alex quickly resolved.
Alex agreed to design the jerseys for five-pound batches of pulled pork from Papa Doc's Pig Palace every month, or as Alex calls it "Carolina Caviar." The rest is history!
UNC Tarheels: The Dream Phone Call
Every one knows Carolina Blue and argyles go together because of the UNC Tarheels. It was Alexander Julian who brought the two together and designed the most iconic collegiate uniforms ever made. How did it all happen? It started with what Alex calls "a dream phone call." Here is the story as told by Alexander Julian:
"I remember it like it was yesterday!!! It was Spring ‘90, my wife and I were in London on business, and our room phone at Claridge’s Hotel rang that funny “bbrrring-bbrrring” that British phones make. I picked it up, and much to my surprise, a familiar voice said, “Hey Alex, this is Dean Smith calling.” I was so shocked that I quickly sat down on the edge of the bed to hear why “Coach” was calling. “I really like what you did with the Charlotte Hornet’s uniforms. I think it’s time for Carolina to update, and I think you’re the man for the job,” he said. I unhesitatingly replied: “Coach, it would be my greatest honor to do whatever I can for you and for Carolina.”
Much later I described to a reporter the way I had felt when Coach called: “You have to remember: I was born and raised in Chapel Hill, my Dad was Class of ‘38, he founded Julian’s in 1942, I was Class of ‘69, my daughter was Class of ’90, I had designed the 1st official tie for the Chancellor’s Club for Chancellor Hardin, I was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award, and if you cut me open I bleed TrueBlue!” “For me, with all my history with UNC, to get a call from Dean Smith asking me to re-design my Tarheels Basketball uniforms, was, well, like getting a phone call from God, asking for new Halos for the Archangels!!!” I still feel the same way, Dean Smith IS the “Dean”, and I’m forever grateful for his “putting me in the game”!"
Paul Newman: Racing Colors
Shortly after the success of my Charlotte Hornets uniform designs, one of my colleagues introduced me to a "neighbor", the actor, Humanitarian, and car racing enthusiast Paul Newman.
My charge was to design new car colors, and uniforms for the famous driver's and crew. The wonderful Mario Andretti and "like father like son" Michael Andretti were our superstars. It was a fascinating challenge as both the racing suits and the crew suits had to be made of fireproof material, which, at the time, was offered only in very limited colors. I chose a palette, and supplemented it with small amounts of appliqué on the driver's suits. The pit crew presented it's own unique set of issues. Fit was a big issue for me. I observed them at close hand, and not only were the uniforms unfashionably tight, but because of the fit, it restricted their movements. Safety was tantamount. I spoke with the scientists at the fireproof fabric supplier, and to my great delight discovered that adding more room in the one piece crew suits not only made them easier to move in, and better looking, but actually improved their flame resistance. It seems the extra air pockets provided extra insulation for the wearer. I designed many different color combos and version for the team and their exciting dedicated drivers through the years. I was honored to be chosen as the first professional fashion designer to win the "Motorsports Designer of the Year." Both Michael Andretti and Nigel Mansell won their National Championships in my uniform and car colors.
Bicycling: A new adventure begins.
Alex's newest sport inspired concept is in bicycling apparel. An avid bicycle enthusiast himself, Alex's father opened "Julian's Cyclery" in 1936.
Maurice Julian (Alex's Father) in front of "Julians Cyclery" in 1936 (Left), Alex on one of his first bikes as a child (Middle), Alex is still an avid cyclist today! (Right)
Fashion follows function, and Alexander Julian is developing new bicycling shirts that are uniquely designed to combine high performance with street smart wearability. It's digital printing on bike jersey...and it's really cool! Bike to work, bike to lunch, bike to golf, bike to tennis, bike in style! Coming very soon to Performance Bikes stores countrywide.
Charlotte Knights: The Largest Shirt in the World
After success with the Charlotte Hornets uniforms, Alex was approached to redesign the Charlotte Knights baseball uniforms with another special request: to design the new stadium itself! Alex famously said of the stadium, "I look at everything as if it were a textile design. When it was finished and built with the 14 colors of seats, if you look at it from center field it's the world's biggest shirt!" Truly a work of art, Alex received the American Institute of Architects award for his design efforts. Go Knights!
Bouncing Bulldogs: Kids are the Real Teachers
Alex is known for his faithful servitude to educational programs for children and love for everything North Carolina, which is exactly why he was asked to design the Bouncing Bulldogs Jump Rope Team uniforms. Alex was amazed the first time he saw the Bulldogs in action. Children as young as 5 years old were being mentored by 12 year old fellow athletes, hundreds of youths were practicing synchronously under their own supervision, and all are model students. It was Alex's honor and privilege to help! The lines on the uniforms are skewed to mimic the motion of jumping, another trompe l'oeil technique Alex is so well known for. Visit www.bouncingbulldogs.org to learn more about the team.