While watching Big Sean’s halftime performance during the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day game, Ty Mopkins’ phone would not stop vibrating and ringing.
“People were calling and texting me, saying they saw Big Sean with my design on,” said Mopkins, who helped design the black Lions Starter jacket worn by the Detroit rapper. “Within 30 minutes, we sold 300 jackets online. But the funny part is, I didn’t even know Big Sean was going to have it on.”
With the explosion of social media and celebrities sharing photos of themselves during daily activities, those same celebrities are indirectly influencing retail sales.
Earlier this year, the red L.K. Bennett dress Kate Middleton wore at the Wimbledon Tennis Championship in London sold out in four hours. Last month, Kylie Jenner was photographed walking out of a supermarket sporting a pair of black and white leggings with Dead Sports printed on the side of one leg. TMZ reported a small Australian clothing company made a month’s worth of profit within 24 hours because the reality TV star posted the photo on her Instagram page.
Michael Bernacchi, marketing and business professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, said most people model themselves after celebrities.
“Sometimes we feel if a celebrity has a certain item, it must be better or special because they are famous,” Bernacchi said. “Celebrities have the ability to speak without saying a word.”
Celebrity influence is one of the reasons the Starter jacket company was revived in 2013 when Carl Banks partnered with Starter owner Seth Horowitz.
Banks, a former linebacker for the New York Giants and Michigan State University, was one of the first players to endorse Starter.
“Years ago I fell in love with the brand. It was one of those things where you had to have every jacket,” said Banks, president of apparel company G-III. For fans, a celebrity influence turns into an emotional experience and a story.”
Banks, who’s known Mopkins for many years, asked him to design 12 sports teams Starter jackets. Each jacket has a release date and a limited quantity. Only 325 Lions jackets were produced.
“When celebrities like Big Sean, DJ Envy or Trey Burke are seen wearing the jackets, they fly off of the shelves. People see it as being a novelty and something that everyone can’t get,” said Mopkins, who is the brand ambassador for Mr. Alan’s Elite. “Now that MSU won the Big Ten Championship, we can’t keep the State jackets in.”
Dave Parker of Detroit said his wardrobe leans toward celebrity trends.
“Mostly everything that I buy designer, I have seen a sports player or someone famous wearing it because it’s the ‘it’ things to wear,” said Parker, who buys every Starter jacket that is released but missed out on the Lions jacket. “I do it because I find myself not knowing what to wear, and it gives me a certain amount of status.”
Status may be the deciding factor for why some buy popular pieces of clothing, but Bernacchi suggested more can be achieved.
“Trends help bridge generational gaps,” Bernacchi said. “If a younger person sees an older person with the jacket Big Sean had on, they might view them differently or establish a connection. Pop culture speaks to generations.”
Get your jacket
If you’re hoping to purchase a Lions Starter jacket anytime soon, designer Ty Mopkins said you’ll have to wait until 2016. Here are the release dates for Mopkins’ latest Starter jackets available at mralans.com:
Saturday: Chicago Bulls
Christmas Eve: Detroit Tigers
New Year’s Eve: Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings