Classic Customizers

The other day a man whom I’ve only heard about came into my shop. 

This man, Kevin, was doing customizing long before me and by the late 80’s he was pretty well known by people who valued proper customizing. We spent the better part of thirty minutes talking about jerseys and our experiences while he was in the shop. 

After he left, I was thinking about how much of this industry I had to figure out on my own and how knowing him back in my early days as a customizer would have helped me immensely. Here was this great customizer living in the same city as me, and I had no clue!

I touched my first game worn jersey in 1990 at the age of 15 when the Jets changed to the Selanne style and were selling off all their 80’s jerseys at the Jets All-Pro Shop. At the same time, Kevin was buying these gamers and making templates of the numbers. He was meeting equipment managers and acquiring game issued goalie cut jerseys in the 80’s – before anyone else ever even heard of goalie cut jerseys!

When I was 18, I was flipping through hockey cards trying to good shots of the back of players to figure out what was going on with the new Tampa Bay font. Meanwhile, Kevin’s getting to know the owner of Cutting Edge Sports and is in on the ground floor of all of that company’s innovation. 

While walking into River City Sports in Winnipeg in 1997, I found a two-layered Lightning paint brush sleeve number 7! It wasn’t the proper three colour kiss cut the team used, it was standard layering, but I was amazed at this find. Quickly, I went home and made a template for that 7. I had no idea what it was for it or where it came from, but I had it!

 

My new buddy Kevin was just telling me that the owner of Cutting Edge called him around that same time to tell him about the new idea he had that he called ‘kiss cut.’ Kevin said he didn’t understand what he was talking about, so Cutting Edge had to send him a sample. He was blown away. The sample was an Islanders fisherman jersey, a jersey way ahead of its time! Kevin didn’t know how he was going to be able to replicate it himself. 

I didn’t see my first kiss cut number until 2003. 

Kevin is a very polite man and loves to talk about what he knows and his experiences as a customizer. We both grew up in a time before there internet and Facebook groups, and so we were unable to connect. Today, he’s long out of the craft and I’m up to my neck in it!

It’s always great to talk to other customizers who are as passionate about the craft as I am.

Keener

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