Brands with huge multicultural appeal don't always plan things that way.
In 2001, Mitchell & Ness, a Pennsylvania-based retro-sports-jersey maker, was a small business bringing in a respectable $3 million a year.
By 2002, sales had jumped to $25 million, and rose dramatically again in 2003.
The reason? The hip-hop crowd fell in love with the old-school uniforms the company made with NBA and other sports league licenses dating back decades. The brand soon turned into a status item for African-American shoppers, boosting ...