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.