Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Carl Banks relaunching satin Starter jackets
By Darren Rovell
Former Giants linebacker Carl Banks is resurrecting the '80s Starter jackets as limited-edition items.
Former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks is a big fan of the classic movie "Coming to America."
So last year, Banks, president of apparel company G-III, went to the NFL's head of licensing, Leo Kane, and asked what he thought about bringing back the Jets jacket worn by Semmi (Arsenio Hall), which he'd sell with a Mets jacket in the style worn by Akeem (Eddie Murphy) in a "Coming to America" pack.
Banks said Kane thought that if he was going to pull off a return of the satin jacket craze of the '80s and '90s he might want to contact Iconix, which owns the Starter brand that made the jackets.
Both Banks and Iconix president Seth Horowitz thought it was such a no-brainer that what was originally conceived as a couple of jackets has now developed into plans for retro Starter jackets of all the major sports teams.
"Anything from the '80s today is seen as cool," said Horowitz, whose company bought Starter and Umbro from Nike. "For those that remember the times, they strongly associate with it, and for those that are too young, they're already into the snap-back hat craze."
What that meant was that there was an extremely broad appeal to the comeback.
To do it the right way, the two had to get on the same page.
First, Banks had to address his concern about the Starter name. The problem was the jacket would be a premium item, which clashes with the company's current identity. In recent years, the Starter brand has done very well in mass channels like Walmart.
This was addressed by deciding to have exclusive launch partners that are the only retailers to sell the product. The partners have been decided but have not yet been announced.
Then came the conversation about consistency. Over the years, there were as many as 10 different versions of the satin Starter jackets, which were made in Korea at the time.
Banks found the best of the designs and went back to the same factories that made the original jackets and commissioned them to make the new ones.
The final piece of the puzzle was agreeing on quantity of jackets, how releases would be handled and the price point.
"We liked the idea of limited-edition drops," Banks said. "We think, if we do this right, we could have something that would be as special as sneaker drops that can generate a kind of excitement that doesn't currently exist in apparel."
Banks said, for example, that one version of a Giants jacket could be sold in partnership with one retailer, another version with another retailer and a third version could be limited to a couple of stores in New York City.
The price? $150 a jacket.
"In order to be special, it has to be beyond the traditional threshold," Banks said. "A standard piece of outerwear like this costs $100 to $125. We feel it makes sense to price it above, and consumers will have to decide if it's worth it to them."
NFL jackets will be the first to roll out in late August and the NBA will follow in November, but don't expect that the jackets will be easy to find.
"We're doing this right," Horowitz said. "I think we're fortunate in that neither of us needs this to put food on the table immediately."
G-III pulled in $1.23 billion in revenue in fiscal 2013, while Iconix says its sports gear alone will do about $2.5 billion annually in sales.
For those who loved the Starter jacket with those front pockets, called The Breakaway Jacket, they will be relaunched. Banks says fans of "Coming to America" will be happy to hear the two jackets likely will be sold in a pack this holiday season (McDowell's hamburger not included).