The Company Behind the Tiffany and Co. x Nike Jackets for VIPs Like LeBron James Has Been Doing This for Decades

The co-owners of Portland-based manufacturer Settlemier's detail the making of the Tiffany and co. x Nike varsity jackets, history of the company, and more.

LeBron James Tiffany and Co. x Nike Settlemier's Jacket

Image via Getty/Jesse D. Garrabrant

LeBron James Tiffany and Co. x Nike Settlemier's Jacket

Throughout this NBA season, all eyes have been on LeBron James every time he steps onto the court as he inches closer and closer to breaking the league’s all-time scoring record. But on Jan. 31, James had the fans talking before he even put on his jersey. James and the Lakers were playing the Knicks in New York City, the same city that Tiffany and Co. was founded in nearly 186 years ago. Why is that important?

Earlier that day, Tiffany and Co. and Nike had announced a monumental collaboration centered around the Air Force 1 alongside various sterling silver accessories like a whistle and shoehorn. The first person we saw actually lace a pair up, fittingly, was James as he arrived at Madison Square Garden.

But it wasn’t just the shoes. James was wearing something even more limited: a black letterman jacket to mark the collab with Tiffany and Co. and Nike logos embroidered across the back, various patches on the chest, a custom liner complete with “King James” sewn into it. And don’t forget the perfect amount of Tiffany Blue accents for that subtle pop of color. The jacket was made by Settlemier’s, a jacket manufacturer in Portland, Oregon. It isn’t quite a one-off, but it is extremely limited. It will not be released as part of the Tiffany and Co. x Nike collection on March 7 but rather gifted to VIP clients of both brands. 

“That was definitely a cause for celebration for us,” says co-owner Aaron Settlemier about seeing LeBron debut the jacket on Tuesday night. “It’s a somewhat surreal moment. I’ve seen a handful of people show up to games wearing a Settlemier’s jacket, but this one hit on a whole new level.”

Settlemier’s was established in 1990 by Gloria Settlemier, who herself was the daughter of two jacket manufacturers, Dorothy and Dale Nelson, who founded Nelson’s Jackets in 1967. Today, Settlemier’s is co-owned by Gloria’s son Aaron and Stephen Campbell, who joined the company four years ago after previously working with Jordan Brand in the entertainment marketing department. To this day, Settlemier’s is creating its letterman jackets using original patterns and machines that Aaron’s grandparents were using back in the ’60s. Everything is crafted in-house using materials like 100 percent Pendleton melton wool and genuine cowhide leather. Even the chenille patches are made at the Portland factory.

Its commitment to this level of quality has led them to be recruited by some of the biggest brands in the world. Getting to create the Tiffany and Co. x Nike letterman jacket debuted by James wasn’t just a lucky opportunity; Settlemier’s has been working with Nike for decades. 

“Because of our proximity, Nike has always been someone who’s really tapped in with us throughout the years,” says Campbell. “For your 25 years at Nike, you would get a jacket from us. We’d make the garments for the pilots and the flight attendants that fly the CEOs around.”

Over the years, Settlemier’s has continued to rack up other major clients. It has created projects for streetwear brands like Stray Rats and Billionaire Boys Club, worked with ASAP Twelvyy to create special jackets for Yams Day in 2021, and even extended to the overseas market through labels like Beams Boy in Japan. Along with brand work, it also makes one-of-one jackets that can be customized down to the cuff and collar. Letterman jackets have boomed in popularity over the past few years. But Settlemier’s believes it is making the best one money can buy.

“I think at this point we’re making the most authentic varsity jacket in the world,” says Aaron. “There may be people making them overseas, but that’s just not our competition. We like to think we just stand above that.”

Check out our conversation with co-owners Aaron and Campbell about Settlemier’s long relationship with Nike, the making of the Tiffany and Co. x Nike letterman jackets, and more below. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

LeBron James Tiffany and Co. x Nike Settlemier's Jacket
LeBron James Tiffany and Co. x Nike Settlemier's Jacket
Settlemier's Storefront

What would you say sets a Settlemiers jacket apart from others that can be gotten on the market? 

SC: We are focusing on creating the highest quality garments out of the highest quality materials. There’s a scarcity that we offer that I think differs us from a lot of other people. We’re so close to the wool mill that we don’t even have it delivered. We drive over and pick out of the mill. I think all of these factors are making us that special. 

AS: I think at this point we’re making the most authentic varsity jacket in the world. There may be people making them overseas, but that’s just not our competition. We like to think we just stand above that. 

You mentioned the word “scarcity.” Is there a cap on the number of jackets you’ll produce for any given project? 

SC: We typically like an order to be capped at 500. Over that, we end up holding onto your product longer than we’d like to. We like to try to get it out there within a couple weeks of us finishing it. We can take on projects with more, and clearly we take on projects with a lot less. 

AS: The largest order we ever took was with Billionaire Boys Club and that was 1,000 jackets. That must have been at least 10 years ago. I remember flying out to New York and going to the 30th floor of a Midtown skyrise with the most epic view I’ve ever seen and being in their studio so amazed that I was there. That was through Chris Bevans.

Settlemier's Patch Wall

Let’s say I reach out and want to make my own jacket. Do I have access to everything you guys have there? What’s the pricing like? How long does that type of thing take to complete?

SC: Typically, our jackets start out at $475. We can cut that up in a bunch of different ways between collar options, sleeve styles, cuff options, and body lengths. You’ve got 10 to 15 base models to choose from. We stock 18 colors of leather. We stock 15 colors of wool. There are four options of lining. It’s a pick-and-choose scenario. If you’re local, we have you come in for fittings. If you’re not, we’re having a conversation on things like weight, height, and what size outerwear you typically wear.

AS: And then when it comes to patching, it’s really the person bringing the idea to us. Sometimes we’re helping make that art that they’re looking for and creating that really unique piece. And then other times, they’ve got a company logo or they just want a letter “C” on the left side. 

It feels like every brand is making their own letterman jacket at this point. Do you think that’s helpful for what you guys are doing or does it have the opposite effect?

SC: We feel like we are creating a product that’s on a level where if you’re in the know and you want the best of it, you’re coming to us. If you’re just a random person who’s looking for a varsity, it’s great that there’s lots of options now because there weren’t a lot of options before.

AS: I love to see it all over the place and people wearing this style jacket. The only frustration I get is when I see certain clothing lines and I’m like, “Oh man, who made that? It could be done so much better.” 

What is the most memorable jacket for each of you?

AS: I always go back to that Kobe one. That was my first foray into the Nike world and getting outside the box. Maybe Kobe’s death kind of puts it in a more emotional place. I’m a big basketball fan and I watched him kill my Blazers in the playoffs year after year. I used to love to hate him. But it’s all love at the end. So that’s kind of tied into it too. If I had to pick one, it would be that.

SC: It’s no one job. It’s the people behind all these jobs. It’s a blast to work with these people that have super-creative ideas. I feel like we really are a playground for a lot of these people. That’s really what is awesome. It’s not the end result of the garment. It is the culmination of all that fun with those people. 

AS: Maybe after we have more time to just really soak it up with this Tiffany one, it might be it if you ask me again. But we’re still working on it. We’re still boxing things up and quadruple-checking stitches. We’re going to head out to New York in a couple weeks and be part of some pop-up stuff. So this ride ain’t over yet. But once it is, I think it’s going to shoot to the top. It’s just been amazing. Only when it’s truly done and out the door can I really step back and see the whole thing and soak it in as an accomplishment. But the job’s not done yet.

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