Starter sees women’s wear as a multimillion-dollar opportunity.
This fall, the sports brand owned by Iconix and licensed to G-III Apparel Group, will introduce the first Starter Black Label women’s collection at high-profile retailers such as Pacific Sunwear and Zumiez. The collection, which was designed in-house and overseen by company veteran Freddie Almodovar, vice president of design for G-III Sports, draws from Starter’s 40-plus-year heritage but infuses it with modern updates.
Among the key pieces in the launch collection that will hit stores on Aug. 25 include the brand’s signature track jackets and tear-away track pants, cropped crewnecks and T-shirts, hooded athletic dresses, leggings, joggers and hoodies.
Starter also offers a basic women’s collection at Amazon, but the Black Label line is more fashion-forward and targets a different customer, according to Carl Banks, G-III Sports president and former NFL linebacker.
“We’ve gotten a lot of requests from women over the years to either make the men’s stuff smaller or launch a women’s collection,” Banks said.
So he and the team at G-III went back into the Starter archives — the brand was founded in 1971 — and poured through catalogues from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties when celebrities such as Brooke Shields and Paula Abdul had sported looks from the brand.
With that as a starting point, they created a collection that “keeps with the heritage but infuses elements of style and fashion,” he said. “It has an edge, but it’s still Starter.”
For example, cropped crewnecks feature a larger Starter logo across the front and track pants and jackets have the brand’s S-star logo in trim down the side in a design reminiscent of the popular Kappa brand.
Banks said Starter was careful not to just pink-it-and-shrink-it as many men’s brands have been known to do when launching women’s. “It’s not a takedown of the men’s,” he said. Instead, with Almodovar at the helm, the designs are slimmed down specifically to fit the target customer, and the details are feminine. That includes sparkle patches, bodysuits and satin sweatshirts that can be worn with flats for a casual look or heels for a more dressed-up feel.
“We took the silhouettes and modernized them. We dropped the shoulder on the V-neck pullovers and even made the soccer pants sexy and slim-fitting,” Almodovar said.
Jamie Cygielman, chief marketing officer at Iconix, is also upbeat on the brand’s potential. “Starter was one of the first athletic brands to fuse fashion with fandom, and today, Starter Black Label has become a premium lifestyle brand. As women have been wearing the classic satin jacket for decades, there was an opportunity to translate the brand DNA for the young female consumer with a collection that features fashion-athletic silhouettes to make it her own — rather than ‘borrowed from the boys.’”
Starter Black Label women’s, which will launch with 15 styles in multiple colors, is targeted to girls 16 and up and is intended to appeal to the customer who is attracted to Fila, Puma’s Fenty collection, PE Nation and Adidas, Banks said. “These brands are all very influential in the space right now. And we also want to be in that space.” Prices will range from $25 to $125 at retail.
For a Sept. 25 delivery, the line will be expanded and will center around Starter’s signature outerwear. It will include color-block pullovers with graphic logos, V-neck bombers and cropped down jackets that Banks believes will be especially popular with customers. “We do outerwear very well,” he said.
Accessories will also be offered and will include beanies, fingerless gloves, patent leather fanny packs and other pieces.
Morris Goldfarb, the long-time chief executive officer of G-III, said he has high expectations for Starter Black Label. Although he declined to cite a specific volume projection, he said, “If it’s not a serious initiative, it won’t fit into our world.” He said G-III is a $3 billion company and “we need it to be fairly important — and we’re going to make it important.”
G-III owns Donna Karan, Vilebrequin, G.H. Bass, Andrew Marc, Marc New York, Eliza J and Jessica Howard and makes licensed goods under Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Vince Camuto and Ivanka Trump brands.
In addition to women’s, Banks hinted that there are going to be a few significant men’s initiatives coming up for Starter within the next couple of months. That includes a special collaboration with Barneys New York for the next iteration of its “Drop” event, which will be held in Los Angeles in early June, as well as another with designer Todd Snyder that will center around heritage sports.