Many Cincinnati Bengals fans gearing up for Nashville have already won big — it’s literally in the bag.
More than a few are planning to offer items from an almost sold out range of Bengals jackets, sweats and shirts designed by a local brand to see a dream come true.
From Joe Burrow, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase to “Bengal” Superfan of the Year Jim Foster, the brand Collaboration with the Black Owned Bengals is in demand and creates almost surprising connections for founder Means Cameron.
“You can feel that we’re united through this collaboration,” Cameron said. “I think it tells a story about where we are going as a city.”
During a summer of protests in 2020, the West End-raised designer who once used his business partner’s apartment kitchen as a shop caught the eye of Cincinnati’s professional football franchise. They wanted Black Owned Bengals t-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts and hoodies.
“I’m a little picky wearing Bengals clothes,” Foster said. “It has to suit me.
Foster bought “Stripes Don’t Come Easy” hoodies and shirts for her family.
“When you have multi-billion dollar businesses like the NFL and the Cincinnati Bengals partnering with a minority-owned small business right here in our city, that’s important to me as a fan,” Foster said. .
As the team won its first playoff game in 31 years, sales soared. The Bengals Pro Shop is out of stock Black Owned products.
What’s left is on shelves in Cameron’s downtown store. Black Owned was aimed at streetwear lovers. Now it’s a magnet for people like Autumn Laird looking for Bengals swag.
“We’re driving from Louisville where we live to Nashville to watch Saturday’s game,” she said.
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The list of regular customers includes former and current Bengals players.
“As soon as we dropped the collection, CJ Uzomah bought every piece of the (collaboration) and that’s important,” Cameron said. “It’s like we want you to succeed.”
Cameron said he’s not sure the franchise would have made that choice 20 years ago. However, he relishes the moment and what it means for New Town Stripes.
“We wanted to find a way to bring people together and football does that,” said Elizabeth Blackburn, Bengals director of strategy and engagement. “But this partnership with Black Owned amplified that point.”
Cameron said the brand, its collaborations and its success transcend race.
“To have a healthy city – a thriving city, black creatives, black owners, black entrepreneurship is needed,” Cameron said.
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