Hi-Top Top 5 – Greatest Starter Jackets of 80s/90s

We’ve debated a lot of important topics here at Hi-Top HQ but this right here may be the mountain top, the apex, the creme de la creme. We’re considering shutting the whole thing down after this cuz honestly there’s really no where left to go. We shall see.

Starter Jackets.

Starter Jackets were pretty much the end all/be all of life for a kid between 1988-1993. If you went to school during those years your anxiety levels peaked when it came to Starter Jackets. Will mom and dad shell out the $85? Which one should I get? Can I wear a Raiders jacket and not literally get killed? This was serious business back in the day. You wanted a fresh Starter but if it was too fresh you’d be forced to exist with eyes in the back of your head, constantly on the lookout for a potential fistfight over your gear. Choose one Starter and you’re getting jumped on a daily basis. Choose another and you’re getting laughed at for having wack taste. This was life and death for an eleven year old.

The five Starters we choose as the Best of the Best represent all aspects of Starter Life. You had Jackets that looked good and were respected even if the actual team was terrible. You had college programs that were more popular than most pro teams. And then you had the Danger Factor. Certain Starters were literal bullseyes on your back. Just wearing one out on the street made you an non-stop target. Only certain people were willing to live that Starter Life. Which Starter were you?

Hi-Top Top 5 Starter Jackets

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Newsflash – Lots of Irish kids around these parts. And they were all rocking the ND gear. You know those dudes in scally caps getting into fights at 2 AM after the bars in Faneuil, well back in 92 those dudes were getting into fights at 2 PM after school in their ND Starter jackets.

4. Los Angeles Kings

At the end of the 80s and into the 90s a lot of teams were switching up their color schemes. Moving away from bright colors to more hardcore looks. No move was bigger than the Kings moving from Purple & Gold to Black & Silver. The switch coincided with the trade for Wayne Gretzky and over night people who the day before didn’t even know LA had a hockey team we’re now rocking Kings gear head to toe. While not as dangerous as some other jackets the Kings Starter was most definitely an in demand item. You had to keep your head on a swivel if you walked the streets in this bad boy.

3. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

🎤”Footin’ up and down like a UNLV Rebel”🎼

The cartoon Rebel dude is dope. The Red and Silver color scheme is dope (watch out for Crips tho). The Runnin’ Rebels were the dopest basketball team in the world.

Dope. Straight Dope.

2. Charlotte Hornets

Far and away the best looking Starter Jacket ever created. This piece is simply stunning. You were styling and profiling if you had a Hornets Starter.

1. Los Angeles Raiders

The thing about the Raiders jacket is that it wasn’t the best looking coat, not even close really, but it was by far the coolest. And the reason it was the coolest was because if you wore this jacket outside on the street you were literally putting your life at risk.


Yes real life killed over this Starter Jacket. Some 25 year old millennial reading this is probably rolling their eyes and making some meme in their head about old people but this is pure facts. This jacket was lethal. You put your life on the line by wearing a LA Raiders Starter.

That’s it. Facts is facts and the fact is these 5 Starter Jackets were everything back in the day. Sure there were plenty of others that looked good – the Bulls Jackets were always fresh. And others that carried some element of danger – Miami Hurricanes were well sought after – but these five Starters were the ones that truly shined. 25 years later and I’m still not sure I’d have the stones to walk around in a Raiders Starter without fear of getting my shoes, hat and coat taken.

One comment

  1. Good stuff, man. My name is Derek and I’m the founder of the (formerly) Fox Sports Engage syndicated sports and entertainment site nocoastbias.com. In short, the site is a hub for the most talented writers from across the country and I think you would be a great fit. I’m a 90s guy through and through, so having another writer on the site with similar interests would be awesome. If you’re interested, feel free to shoot me an email at derek (at) nocoastbias (dot) com. Thanks!


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