Starter Bringing Back the Classics
The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't won a World Series since wearing a Starter jacket. Same goes for the Mets, A's and Blue Jays, all teams often-remembered for the days when Starter filled the dugout of every team.
And while Starter may have faded from baseball's most public stages years ago, when Carl Banks' G-III Sports Apparel took over the Starter league licenses four years ago, he revived all things iconic. That means more Starter satin jackets. Satin and so much more. It may not help some teams over the World Series hump, but it may connect fans back to the most glorious of days.
"The Starter library is so vast that you could do too much too soon or you could bring back the key items that really gave Starter that emotional connection with the sport's fan base," he tells Baseball America. "We began where it all started, if you will. Before there was anyone else on the field, it was Starter."
With the classic satin look already in play in 2017 for select markets, Banks, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, says to expect a fresh perspective from Starter's classic library in 2018, all while tying back to the moments in baseball history when Starter was an integral part of the game. He says Starter will feature players telling stories from decades past, whether the Earthquake Series in the Bay Area or the "Toronto moment" in the early 1990s.
"Starter does have a real emotional connection to the consumer base, fan base and fashion base," Banks says. "We are really excited about capturing the iconic silhouettes and those moments."
While satin will make its return in fall 2018, expect spring to bring out a pair of classic Starter looks in mainstream offerings. A lightweight training camp windbreaker will make its 2018 debut first, followed by a full rollout of the Dugout jacket, with sleeves differing in color from the rest of the jacket.
"We have a clear, defined plan," Banks says. "We have the iconic pieces that are going to resonate from fan to fashion, but then we have some unique pieces we have been rolling out at specialty stores. Starter has so many items in the library, you don't have to worry about rolling out the next thing, but paying homage to the iconic pieces. It is all about telling the story of what Starter meant."
Part of telling the old stories comes with offering a new product authentic to the original. Banks predicts about 85 percent of the designs come authentic to the originals, with only some of the hardware pieces-zippers, snaps, etc.-new simply because the original styles no longer get manufactured. To go all-in on the authenticity, Banks relies on his own personal collection of Starter product and his relationship with Mr. Throwback, a New York-based Starter aficionado, to make sure he's "hitting the mark" whenever launching a new product.
Plus, Banks found the man responsible for the original product sourcing of Starter and got put in touch with the original factories that made the product, using those same factories for current-day fabrication.
"It is a no-brainer to be on the authentic side," Banks says about the on-field creations. "People connect with that right away."
Whether the classic image of Doc Gooden in a Starter satin jacket, the story of Mitchell Modell ensuring George Steinbrenner had a warehouse full of Yankees Starter jackets when the MLB switched sponsors or even classic movies such as "Coming to America" and "Major League" embracing all things Starter, Banks says fans connect with the nostalgia right away. Satin or not.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.