The Evolution of the Starter Brand: From Sportswear to Pop Culture Phenomenon

For those who are fans of vintage fashion, there's no brand quite like Starter. With its iconic logo and classic designs, the brand has become a symbol of nostalgia within the athletic apparel industry. But what many people don't know is that the brand's origins go far beyond its pop culture status. Starting off as a manufacturer of team jackets, Starter quickly made a name for itself by creating high-quality garments that were built to last. Over time, the brand became synonymous with high-performance sportswear and eventually made its way into popular culture, thanks in part to endorsements and collaborations with some of the biggest names in sports. Join us as we explore Starter's story, its impact on sportswear, and why its legacy lives on today.

The Very Beginning

The story of Starter begins in 1971, when the company was founded by David Beckerman and his partners. Initially, the company's focus was on producing high-quality athletic jackets for teams at all levels, from youth leagues to professional franchises. The jackets were made from durable materials and featured the team's colours and logos, making them a popular choice among both players and fans.

The 80s

As Starter's reputation grew, the company began to expand its product line, offering a wider range of apparel and accessories for sports enthusiasts. The brand's signature jackets remained its most popular item, but it also introduced hats, t-shirts, and other items that showcased team spirit and pride. In the 1980s, Starter also began to incorporate pop culture elements into its designs, featuring logos and references to iconic movies, TV shows, and musicians.

The turning point for Starter came in the late 1980s, when the brand signed a deal with the newly formed National Football League Properties. Under the agreement, Starter became the official supplier of sideline jackets for all NFL teams, giving the brand unprecedented exposure and credibility among sports fans. Soon after, Starter signed similar deals with the NBA and MLB, making it a dominant force in the world of sports apparel.

The 1990s

The 1990s marked the peak of Starter's popularity, as the jackets and other items became associated with hip-hop culture and streetwear fashion. Rappers like N.W.A., Tupac, and Wu-Tang Clan could often be seen wearing Starter jackets and caps in their music videos and live performances, which helped solidify the brand's status as a pop culture phenomenon. Will Smith also helped popularise the trend in his hit TV show, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." By 1995, Starter had become a billion-dollar company, with sales continuing to rise.

Unfortunately, the good times wouldn't last forever. By the late 1990s, Starter began to experience financial difficulties, due in part to increased competition from other sports apparel brands like Nike and Reebok. In 1999, the company filed for bankruptcy, and was later acquired by competitor Nike.

Vintage Starter Apparel

Today, the legacy of the Starter brand lives on through vintage pieces that are highly sought after by collectors and fashion enthusiasts alike. From the iconic Starter jackets of the 90s to the popular Starter caps, these vintage items are more than just clothing - they represent a cultural moment and a passion for sports and style. The durability and quality of Starter garments have stood the test of time and continue to be a staple in fashion today. It's clear that the impact of Starter apparel will live on for generations to come, cementing its place in fashion history.

And if you’re looking to get in on the trend, then you’re in luck! At Vintage Folk, we have an extensive collection of vintage Starter pieces, including plenty of jackets, just waiting to be discovered. Come and explore our range today and see what treasures you can uncover.