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Monday, July 22, 2024
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Starter Is Cool Again, And Aims for Revival with New Sports Deals

  • New run of league licensing aimed at elevating brands
  • Brand being overseen by New York Giants legend Carl Banks

One of the most popular and influential sports-related apparel brands of the 1990s is readying a large-scale comeback more than a generation later.

Starter — whose satin jackets were once a fixture of both pro team sidelines and music videos — is prepping a set of deals aimed at returning the brand to the summit of pop culture.

Owned by Iconix Brand Group Inc. and licensed to G-III Apparel Group Ltd. — whose sports efforts are led by New York Giants legend Carl Banks — the company is reportedly negotiating on-field licensing deals with the Fox Sports-controlled USFL and the Arena Football League. 

Those will add to existing fan-directed licensing pacts with the NFL, MLB, NBA, several college programs, an NHL collection set for release this fall, and a 20% rise in sales this year. 

Last month, the MLB pact saw the licensed rerelease of the famous Bronx Bubble jacket, celebrated with a high-profile event at the league’s flagship store in New York. “Some of hip-hop’s greatest pioneers wore this jacket,” Banks said.

The upswing marks a high point in what has been a turbulent run for the brand over the past two-plus decades. 

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999 amid a marked sales downturn, Starter has bounced between several different ownership and operating structures. Nike bought the company in 2004, only to sell it to Iconix three years later in a $60 million deal. G-III then arrived in 2012.

Now, Starter is looking to upstart leagues, and potentially Europe, as a way to sidestep long-term exclusive pacts for on-field rights held by rival companies such as Nike.

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