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August 15, 2012

50 Best Vintage Starter Jackets

About three weeks ago, ESPN sports business analyst Darren Rovell came across an ad for Starter featuring Darryl Strawberry, reminisced about how popular the brand’s jackets were in the mid-1980s, and invited his followers to share the vintage Starter jackets that they still have in their closets. His readers came up with, amongst others, photos of awesome Team USA, New York Yankees, Miami Hurricanes, and Seattle Supersonics jackets. Unfortunately, I was out at the time and therefore unable to send in a picture of the amazing Hartford Whalers half-zip that I still use as my primary combatant for harsh Chicago winters:

Yes, ladies, I’m available.

For twentysomething and thirtysomething men, Starter jackets were an indelible part of our early fanhood. In the 80′s, button up windbreakers dominated the scene while the half-zip winter pullovers like my Whalers coat pictured above were everywhere in the 90′s. EVERYBODY rocked these jackets.

Despite high sales volume in the mid-90′s, Starter’s business faltered:

Although Starter began 1994 with a 23 percent increase over the first quarter 1993, it suffered a loss of $2.2 million in the second quarter. Second quarter 1994 sales were flat: $57.8 million, slightly lower than second quarter sales from 1992. Starter had predicted the loss, which it blamed on late deliveries from vendors, shipping delays to retailers, additional advertising and personnel costs, as well as start-up costs for a new Memphis distribution facility.

Starter would ultimately restructure in 1999, getting acquired by Nike in 2004 for $43 million before Nike sold the brand to Iconix in 2007 for $60 million.

Like retro NBA jerseys, vintage Starter jackets have seen a vibrant resurgence on Ebay. Some deals can be had but if you want to find one in good condition, you should expect to pay at least $150. Given the Ebay asking prices, you would think there is an opportunity to re-release some of these.

With help from Rovell’s followers as well as Ebay auctions, here are 49 more throwback Starter jackets:

Continue reading 50 Best Vintage Starter Jackets


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