Starter was one of the biggest clothing brands in sports in the 1980s and 1990s with its iconic jackets and the “S” logo emblazoned on the side. The company had licensing agreements with the NBA, the NFL, the NHL and even the Canadian Football League to propel it to the top of the sports clothing manufacturing industry and give fans the ability to “wear what the pros wear.”
Though Starter isn’t in the front of the minds of fans or celebrities in 2023, two-time Super Bowl champion Carl Banks is hoping to change that. Banks, the president of Giii Sports, partnered with Starter to call the right play and feed off the fans’ natural need for nostalgic vibes.
Banks launched the Legacy collection last year and come this fall, he’s reintroducing the iconic Bronx Bubble Jacket to the world. The jacket, with the “Yankees” script emblazoned across it, was a must-have piece of clothing when the New York Yankees were at the height of their World Series run in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Everybody from Derek Jeter to Spike Lee to “The Boss” George Steinbrenner himself wore the piece of clothing, making it one of the most fashionable items of the time.
“There’s a Starter story in every household. If somebody in your household was born from 1970 up or 1960 up, there’s a Starter story,” Banks explained to FOX Business in a recent interview. “And there was a moment in New York that we wanted to capture with the release of the Bronx Bubble. That is the run the Yankees had in the 1990s — their World Series run.
“The late great George Steinbrenner would not let his team take the field without the Starter jacket, and one of the more iconic pieces was the Bronx Bubble. There’s so many guys, celebrities that would show up to the stadium wearing that Bronx Bubble just to emulate what they were seeing with the Yankees.”
Banks added that he wanted to celebrate Lee, who wore different colors of the Bronx Bubble in a Pizza Hut commercial, and the 50th anniversary — that being in the Bronx. Banks said one of the “staple uniforms of streetwear was and still is the Bubble.”
“We brought back the original piece, and all of the original elements that were true to that jacket is in this version of the jacket as well,” he said.
Banks explained his own “Starter story” to FOX Business.
The former New York Giants linebacker said that when Starter entered the sports realm, he was one of three players on the team who were ambassadors. Banks said he met with Starter founder David Beckerman and was intrigued by his idea of turning the sidelines into a runway.
Banks said Starter put its logo on the sleeve because baseball managers would mostly watch the game with their arms folded. And when they did that in a Starter jacket, the “S” would show on camera. He said he got to see firsthand how the Starter brand started to make its way off of the field and into pop culture.
“One night I’m out. Me and my teammate Pepper Johnson. We pull up to a nightclub in New York. And so we get out and there’s a limo behind us and someone jumps out and they’re screaming, like, ‘Yo! Pepper! Yo! Carl!’ And I turn around and it’s DMC from Run DMC,” Banks said. “But the beautiful part is he’s showing me, he’s going like this (pointing to his chest), ‘Giants, baby!’ And he’s wearing the Starter Giants sideline satin jacket. So, I’m, like, wow, this is crazy.”
Banks added that things are “still rocking” for Starter even in 2023. Now, he’s turning his attention to “authentic opportunities to really put the brand where it should be.”
Aside from MLB, the NBA and the NHL, Banks named the USFL, Arena Football League and college sports as potential new opportunities for the iconic brand.
“That’s the next phase. Continue to build on the story of Starter. Build on the legacy or great apparel and innovation and then looking for opportunities back on the field or in sport officially,” he said.