– It started as a family business on the North Side of Chicago and grew into a team of entrepreneurs, artists and creators that united the entire city, changing the streetwear world with Chicago style hustle. – Common Sense would come in and just hang out, Fat Joe and Big Pun, The Lox, Twista, DMX, Busta Rhymes. – There was no culture. I mean we created it at Tony’s. You’ve got to understand. You’re talking ’88. There’s no internet. There’s no cell phones. Our marketing was word of mouth and going out every night, and that’s how it all started. – This is the story of Tony’s Sports. What’s up ya’ll. My name is BJ the Chicago Kid. I’m from the South Side and I definitely am a sneaker lover. -What’s up B?
-What’s up T? -This is my favorite joint right here because this is one of our slogan “Never forget where you come from” Turn it around sleeves got that original address. Right here, these are the years we were open, ’85 to 2007 – Tony opened his doors in 1985 and the shop quickly became a hot spot for artists, athletes and sports fans. When I came into Tony’s Sports for the first time it wasn’t just a clothing store it was a real experience. It allowed me to understand that there was a cooler part of Chicago if you just get outside your neighborhood. Let me ask this question, How did this whole thing start with, with you and your life? – My father was my mentor. One of the key things that I definitely learned from him is being real, you know what I’m saying, and treating people like family, and making them feel good about themselves. And I had a passion for footwear, sneakers. You know, that’s where I wanted to be and throughout the years it just evolved and got bigger and bigger. – If you could describe Tony’s Sports in one word, what would it be? – It was called and it is Tony’s Sports University because a lot of people took what was being absorbed in Tony’s Sports and they took it to the next level and that’s something that you can’t buy man. You know what I mean? It’s about the new culture, the new generation. – He gave young designers the opportunity to sell their lines alongside brands like Adidas and other legendary brands, and that really changed the game. – What up? – [Happy Greeting] – D, what’s up?
-B, how you feeling? – Tony, he’s always supported everybody that I’ve known to be within sneaker culture. – It’s always been a family thing whether in good and bad and it’s about a vibe, it’s about the music, it’s the emotion, it’s the emotional attachment to the brand. Right? First it was the Tony’s brand and then, Leaders, we’re descendants and then there’s obviously Corey Gilkey, there’s Vic Lloyd there’s Rello there’s a lot of people that are successful that come from this family tree. – Tony offered more than merchandise, community and paying it forward. Some of theose creatives such as Corey Gilkey and Diego Ross would go on to found, Leaders 1354 in 2002. For the kid that comes to Leaders and sees that he knows the guy that designs these shirts and he’s inspired to do the same thing one day, what would you want to leave for them? – Immerse yourself into your business. Know what you want to do. Love it. If you don’t support the culture, it will not support you back. – In 2013, a group of young creatives who met at Leaders 1354 would go further to expand the Chicago streetwear scene by opening a store called Fat Tiger Workshop. – Tony’s Sports for me was, it was like the OG, it was like the first shop. And then, like, the time I was at Leaders we had Tony’s down the street. It was really kind of like the stories of, just how everything kind of links together. So, um, so Diego was like my first mentor in fashion. Before I started at Leaders, I used to assist Diego with wholesaling this brand called Troop. I would just follow him around to the trade shows. – I was always like, I’m younger so, you know, I was a shorty. For me, like, it’s just, it’s like all of my big bros, you know what I mean, just hearing their stories and how they came out of Tony’s it’s always been like this mythical, like legendary thing. – I just think that we’re like a we’re a direct descendant of like this legacy. Like, we are what’s next like, you know what I’m saying a natural evolution of from being from Tony’s to Leaders to Fat Tiger. It’s all apart of the same story. We got to see what everybody else did and be able to carve out our lane for the future of Chicago. – We fearless you know what I’m saying in Chicago and I think a lot of times man because we’re such a blue-collar city. You know what I’m saying. People kind of forget that we’re also a world class city too. You know what I’m saying. We’re here to stay man, you know. – I want to ask you guys about this Adidas collab. What does it mean to you guys? – The world will be looking at Chicago and then we have this huge product that’s on display for the world. Like, check out what Chicago creators have to offer to the world scope. – I think the cooler thing too is that Adidas allowed us to be ourselves. You know what I’m saying. I think that’s probably like the biggest thing when you partnering up with a big company because that, you know, if you’re able to be genuine, keep it authentic, you know what I’m saying and just be real about everything. – Strength and honor, that’s like our whole thing at Fat Tiger. You know, carry by strength built with honor. I got a good mantra tattooed on my knuckles. Stay true. I believe everything you do is being who you are and knowing what story you’re telling. I feel that young creatives, anything that you want to do just stick with it. You know what I’m saying. But also, work at it. You know what I’m saying. Just don’t think because you say you want to do something you’re going to be able to do it. You got to put the work in. – Beyond selling streetwear, both Leaders 1354 and Fat Tiger are changing lives by mentoring creatives in fashion, art, music and entertainment. If you can, put it in words man, help me see what was going on back then. – What was going on was it was a culture. We built a culture and it still lives on today. See, I’ve been closed for thirteen years, you think, people would forget about me but I’m walking on these streets and I’m getting stopped constantly. I always never stopped following what was happening with the culture and the fashion and how it’s evolved to what it is today. I’m so proud of all these new designers in Chicago. – Part of being a Chicagoan is always looking out for your own. Tony instilled the, “Change is a team sport” mentality into everyone he worked with and these shops are helping the next generation of Game Changers create their own legacy. – [Cheering] Tony, Tony, Tony