Starter Reemerges As Iconic ’90s Nostalgia Eyes $230 Billion Streetwear Market

By Keyanna Harper 

  • Starter, the distinguished sports apparel brand from the ’90s is gearing up for a massive resurgence, aiming for a 20% revenue boost this year
  •  The global streetwear market size is expected reach $230B by 2028

Once the brand of ’90s streetwear, ‘Starter’ is lacing up for a grand return. As the fashion sector leans into nostalgia, the enduring emblem, under the Iconix banner, sets the level for a renaissance. Over the decades, iconic figures which include Run-DMC and Diddy have sported Starter jackets, adding to their cultural significance. As part of the Starter’s comeback more than a generation later it plans to increase sales by 20% this year.

Why This Matters: The ’90s have been a golden generation for sports clothing, with brands like Starter leading the fee. Now the global streetwear market size which was valued at $187 billion in 2022 is expected to expand at 3.52%, reaching $230 billion by 2028.For Starter, their jackets became cultural symbols, donned by hip-hop legends. Today’s market sees a resurgence of these throwback manufacturers, with customers craving for a taste of the past. 

The sports nostalgia wave is clear in some of the latest collaborations between Fanatics and Jay-Z, leading to the purchase of Mitchell & Ness1. Recognized for its vintage sports jerseys, secured a valuation of $250 million in the Fanatics deal. Moreover, Starter’s recent licensing offers with the USFL and the Arena Football League and collaborations with the NFL, MLB, and NBA characterize its rationale to reclaim its iconic status as well. 

What’s Next: After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999 amid a marked sales downturn, Starter has bounced between several different ownership and operating structures. Nike (NKE +1.24%) bought the company in 2004, only to sell it to Iconix three years later in a $60 million deal.

As Starter preps for its major comeback, other ’90s brands are probably inspired to re-enter the spotlight. With strategic collaborations and an expertise of present day patron dreams, Starter should bridge the distance among the beyond and the present. 

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