I scored some sweet tickets to see my beloved Chicago Bulls face the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was apropos to bust out my awesome vintage Bulls Starter jacket for the occasion.
A little history behind my jacket: A couple of my high school buddies gave me this jacket for my 19th birthday! The year was 1991 and the middle of Jordan's glory years. The Bulls finished in first place in the Central Division and had the best record in the NBA. The Bulls went on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals to win their 2nd consecutive championship and second of three straight.
Nowadays, my Bulls jacket is somewhat of a holy grail of Chicago sports throwback streetwear. I can't count how many times I get stopped on the street with offers to buy my jacket for hundreds of dollars. At least they offer to buy it now because back in the day, Starter jackets (along with Jordan's) became a status symbol and kids were getting robbed of them. #TrueStory
Starter was a groundbreaking athletic apparel brand that began in 1971. Starter was a pioneer in bringing sportswear to pop culture by partnering with professional sports and college teams. With prominent team logos and colors, the Starter Jacket became an iconic clothing staple in the history of sports licensing. Professional athletes, sports fans, entertainers and fashionistas proudly displayed their team loyalties and street style.
Starter products including jackets, hoodies, coats and caps were made popular by hip hop artists from the 80's to mid-90's. The youth from the rich to poor rocked the gear as hard as the sports players and managers, fashionistas and entertainers.
In the late 90's, other brand names and styles began to emerge. Changing fashion trends eventually resulted in lagging sales and, in 1999, Starter filed for bankruptcy. Over the next ten years, several companies owned the brand, including Nike and current owner Iconix. The S and Star logo were featured on a variety of lesser desired products.
Back to Life...
Starter partnered with G-III Apparel Group to bring back the classic jacket. The G-III Sports President/Founder is also former NFL professional Carl Banks. Former Starter CEO David Beckerman introduced Banks to the apparel industry when Banks played for the New York Giants. Banks became one of the first players to endorse Starter.
Banks was inspired to revive the brand after watching Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America movies. He also found his son shopping for the vintage jacket online. Banks proposed retailing new versions to the NFL and NFL's head of licensing Leo Kane suggested Banks needed to talk to Starter owner Iconix.
“The Starter jacket was a beacon of 80’s and 90’s fashion and we can’t wait to bring it back with contemporary styling and a modern athletic fit.” - Carl Banks
Banks and Iconix researched the old fabrications used to make the original Starter jacket in order to ensure the same standard and look. The new satin jacket is made with the same made-in-Korea satin of the original.
Banks launched the new NFL line to retailers in Fall 2013. “With a history dating back to the 70’s, the convergence of sports, fashion and entertainment was created and defined by Starter, which paved the way for many brands to follow suit,” says Banks. “The Starter jacket was a beacon of 80’s and 90’s fashion and we can’t wait to bring it back with contemporary styling and a modern athletic fit.”
Starter jackets packaged editions are being rolled out at select stores in quickstrikes (limited-editions drops) to appeal to the sneakerhead community. The entertainment community is already bringing the brand to the fashion forefront.
Starter is being introduced to new teams that were not a part of the 80's and 90's phenomenon, such as the Brooklyn Nets and OKC Thunder. "That’s the fun part of it," Banks says. "It breathes life into markets that didn’t have Starter jackets at the time they were originally made. Even though they’re new teams, we wanted to make sure that the designs were consistent with the DNA of the Starter jacket."
I'm happy to see the Starter brand came back for generations to enjoy. But I'm so glad I have an original :)
How would you style a vintage Starter jacket? Share in your comments and check out my style tips in the Lotta à la Mode style series!
Deluxe Redux® is a vintage fashion blog based in Chicago celebrating fashion history. I feature designers, vintage boutiques and fashion historians..