Any piece of writing about Starter jackets must begin with an iconic bit of ugliness that defined the very early 1990s. This was the unfortunate period when America knew it had to break from the 1980s, but didn’t know how. Women’s hair started to lay flat, and men started getting rid of their mustaches. The pastel colors, however, were still there. (Just watch any early episode of Seinfeld and you’ll see how pastel-y this era was.) Tight-fitting garments for men were still in vogue. Patterned sweaters – remember those? – were still popular. TV broadcasts still used that bulky white lettering with black drop-shadow. I’d say America didn’t break away from the 80s and go head-strong into the 90s until far into Bill Clinton’s first term.
After that digression, I bring you the Starter multi-colored windbreaker-coat. This blog is primarily about the satin-type jacket, but I’d be remiss not to discuss this jacket design.
If I were a time traveler and wanted to travel back to 1990 discreetly and without attracting the US Government, I’d don this windbreaker-coat to do my secret business:
I would wear this coat with some acid-washed jeans, and be carrying a Walkman. And listening to that rap-rock song that Anthrax and Public Enemy did together.
But let’s get down to the design itself. The Hornets’ color scheme was teal and purple. The Hornets, I believe, were the vanguard expansion team of the era to choose purple. (Before the Hornets, purple was only used with a few legacy teams such as the L.A. Lakers, Minnesota Vikings, and Utah Jazz. After the Hornets, a bevy of teams from all professional sports chose purple clothing: the Colorado Rockies, the Toronto Raptors, and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks just to name a few.)
There were several variations of the hooded coat and/or windbreaker product that Starter rolled out. The above pictures are of the hoodie-coat, which kept style-conscious males warm, even into the summer, when a coat was definately not needed. But if you’d spent a few Andrew Jacksons on a garish coat, then you’d probably want to put it on anytime the temperature dropped below 70.
The windbreaker style was not much different. It was a rather heavy windbreaker, and the purple highlights were placed elsewhere on the arms:
I give the Hornets credit for adopting a bold color scheme. The NBA has always been creative and splashy with uniform designs. Of course, REAL Hornets are black and yellow, so why Charlotte picked teal and purple is beyond my comprehension. But there was something very teal in the air as we entered the 1990s. The Mighty Ducks went with almost the exact same color scheme in 1993, and then the Arizona Diamondbacks did the same in 1998. What the hell, 1990s?
At least the Hornets’ logo was given a classy space on the left breast. But there might’ve been a huge Hornets logo on the back for all I know*.
*Oh, wait, here’s the giant hornet!
The Hornets’ logo was actually one of the better modern expansion-team logos. It looked almost classy, with a varsity-team vibe to it. Cutesy but not ridiculous. They could have easily done what the Toronto Raptors did. Ugh. The actual satin Starter jacket is a much more dignified affair. It is a nice neptune-blue with varsity lettering. I’m sure there were other variations of this jacket, but this might be the best:
I liked how the NBA logo was always placed beside the right pocket. This little detail went a long way for all NBA Starter jax.
I have always thought that, outside of baseball, these satin jackets worked best on an NBA court. It’s hard to describe exactly why – maybe it was the satiny roots of old NBA uniforms, the pizzazz surrounding the NBA generally – but throwing on one of these jackets before, during, and after a game just seems right.
I do not own this jacket, nor do I own any NBA jacket. For the right price, though, I’d pick one up, especially one of a defunct team like the Charlotte Hornets. I saw a truly fantastic Utah Jazz jacket from the 1980s on Ebay a few weeks back: it was purple, with green, yellow, and white striping. It was magic, and would totally not go with any daily ensemble I wear. Not even with jeans and a t-shirt. Well, maybe with that. But who wants to wear purple in public? Anyway, this jacket was like $140 so, no thanks.