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Bodega x New Era 'Earn Your Stripes' Editorial

It would be difficult to name a place where earning your stripes is more clearly illustrated than on the outdoor basketball courts that dot city streets all across the country. So, for NBA All-Star Weekend 2018, Bodega and New Era celebrate the legacy of hard work, individual artistry, and competitive spirit that have made streetball a legitimate cultural phenomenon, with a military inspired range of hats and apparel.

Available in three styles: fitted, adjustable strapback, and bucket, the Bodega x New Era headwear outfits these classic hat styles in olive ripstop and features graphic prints in the style of the handwritten customization that individual soldiers have historically applied to their helmets.  Each hat comes with six Velcro NBA team patches [Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks], military unit and rank insignia style patches, and metal pins.  Limited to production runs of 100, each hat is individually numbered, and comes packaged in a customized, metal ammunition case.

The collection’s apparel ranges from standard issue graphic tees and knit shorts to one of one vintage field shirts.

The Bodega x New Era Earn Your Stripes All-Star Collection releases Friday, February 16th, exclusively at Bodega’s brand new Los Angeles retail location, with remaining supplies slated to release Friday, March 2nd, online at 11am EST.  

“Earn your stripes.” The concept is perfectly simple; a person advances through the ranks of a given organization through the grind of effort and experience.  The expression can obviously be traced back to military origins, where the stripes are not metaphorical, but actual, material stripes, in the form of indications of rank displayed on a uniform. On its face, earning your stripes seems like the oldest of old-school values, but achieving rank based on your own efforts wasn’t always something to be taken for granted.  How else could you obtain stripes anyway?
Within the rigid social structures of centuries past, the military officer class was drawn from the ranks of the aristocracy.  It was actually a common practice, for a time, to purchase officer commissions.  On paper, the practice was meant to reinforce the existing social hierarchy status quo, but there’s no doubt that to a modern audience, the very idea sounds outrageous.  How can you buy something as intangible as respect and achievement? 
By comparison, legitimately earning your stripes seems downright revolutionary in comparison. 
One of the great things about the world of sports is the absolute clarity it offers in terms of status.  You’ll never see a team that won twenty games all season get a spot in the NBA finals because they sell a lot of merchandise; everything is based on performance. 
If this is obvious when it comes to professional sports, it’s doubly true when it comes to sports outside the realm of riches, fame, and legions of adoring fans, and the further away from the pros that you get, the more important pride and respect become.