You definitely remember Starter jackets. How could you not? If you were even a casual sports fan in the 1990s—or just someone who hit the streets—the Starter satin jacket was a ubiquitous piece of sports apparel. Along with snapbacks and Jordans, Starter jackets were some of the first pieces of sideline and official team clothing to cross over into mainstream fan merchandising and street style. Your favorite players wore these jackets on the field, and you wore them to school.
Over this past Labor Day weekend, Iconix brand Starter, in partnership with legendary Giants linebacker Carl Banks and his company G-III, retroed the classic jacket and dropped a select few models at Footlocker stores. More colors and teams will become available as the 2013 NFL and NBA seasons roll on.
In New York City, we had a chance to sit down with Banks and Starter brand ambassador Terrell Owens, who repped his own Dallas Cowboys Starter jacket to the interview. We asked Banks to detail why now is the best time to re-release the jacket, and how he got Spike Lee—the man responsible for those immortal '90s Michael Jordan advertisements—involved with the forthcoming promotional campaign. We also picked his brain on the state of the New York Giants, and let Owens sound off on Roger Goodell and his quarterback, Tony Romo.
Interview by Justin Block (@JBlock49)
Why is now the time to bring back Starter satin jackets?
Banks: My motivation was to bring back iconic outerwear pieces. We had a series that we were going to put out—the first was the Detroit Lions Beverly Hills Cop jacket, and then the next in that progression was the Coming to America, which was the Starter Jets satin jacket—that's the one that Arsenio Hall wore.
So these are inspired by movies and entertainment?
Banks: The original thought was, "Let's do some really cool limited edition pieces." I knew the time was right when my son, who's 16, shows me like four different Starter jackets on his iPhone. He's like, "Dad, you need to start making these. These are so cool." He's a sneakerhead and probably saw A$AP Rocky wearing one. He didn't even know I was in conversations to do any of these
We had some conversations with the NFL. They were the first to sign off on it. Then the NBA, then Major League Baseball. It's still the most iconic outwear piece in all of sports. It's not about the vintage aspect of it, but more so introducing it to a new generation. — Carl Banks
projects. I'm like, "Okay, it's time."
We had some conversations with the NFL. They were the first to sign off on it. Then the NBA, then Major League Baseball. It's still the most iconic outwear piece in all of sports. It's not about the vintage aspect of it, but more so introducing it to a new generation, and reintroducing it to those who have an emotional connection to it.
It's kind of like how snapbacks came back, one or two years ago. It's interesting that you mentioned your son is a sneakerhead. Are you going to be dropping these like how Jordan Brand would drop Jordans?
Banks: It's hard to say. Starter was what Jordan is today. It's like the most iconic thing in sports. We've worked out some really great programs with our retailers. We have two major launch partners. One is Footlocker. They have a unique way that they like to introduce product into the marketplace. You can see probably some staggered releases. I don't want to say it's in line with what the shoe people do, but they have a way. We have a timeline that the jackets will hit the market. Our partners at Sports Authority are going to do things a little differently.
Why did you pick those two stores?
Banks: It's two reasons. Footlocker, because they're a part of the entire fabric of the culture of sneakers in sports. You pick that partner because that's where the kid will go. That cool kid. Foot Locker speaks the language that they understand. Sports Authority is part of the fabric of the sports fan. This jacket transcends cool, because like I said, it's an emotional connection to those who know the brand. For that sports fan who needs to get his fix, this is the jacket that does it, and Sports Authority is the avenue that we definitely think speaks to that consumer base.
So you're playing on the sports fan, but also the kid who's into fashion.
Banks: The elements of cool, and the elements of sports.
Tell us how you got T.O. and Spike onboard.
Banks: Rocking with Spike is a cool experience.
Had you known Spike prior to this?
Banks: I've known Spike for years. He goes hard for New York. Our company, G-III, has made jackets for him to wear. He's a Yankees fan, he's a Knicks guy, so we take care of him. The funny thing about it was when we first announced the relaunch of Starter, I took my sons to a Knicks game. They were there a little early. Spike kind of mosied up to me, and he says, "Is it true what I hear?" I'm like, "What are you hearing?" He says, "You're bringing back the Starter jacket?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "The real Starter jacket?" I'm like, "Yeah." "You mean the satin ones? The real satin ones?" in Spike Lee talk, so I'm like, "Yeah, original." He paused and says to me, "You know, something that's never been done before is an orange Knicks satin jacket. It's never been done before. It'd be nice if I could get it for the playoffs." Just like that. I chuckled and we went our
Get me an orange Knicks jacket prior to the playoffs. He [Spike Lee] has one of one, and he wore it. If you go back and look at the video bomb he did on Reggie Miller, he's walking back and forth on camera wearing the orange jacket. — Carl Banks
He wanted his fix!
Banks: I went back and gave our production staff a mandate: Get me an orange Knicks jacket. I know we're not making it, it's not part of the original launch program. Get me an orange Knicks jacket prior to the playoffs. He has one of one, and he wore it. If you go back and look at the video bomb he did on Reggie Miller, he's walking back and forth on camera wearing the orange jacket. He had a seat next to him and he folded the jacket and laid it across the seat. It was his idea, so we'll eventually introduce it into the market place, but right now it's Spike's.