Pistons, Ty Mopkins release Black History Month jackets, inspired by Tuskegee Airmen

Detroit News

Detroit — In the week leading up to Monday night’s game against the Celtics, the Pistons teased a new Starter jacket from their latest collaboration with Detroit designer Ty Mopkins.

Two fans were presented during this weekend’s home back-to-back with the franchise’s new Black History Month jacket, which honors the historic Tuskegee Airmen. The jacket is part of a limited-release collection and was officially revealed by the Pistons on Monday morning.

Inspired by the first Black military airmen in United States history, the jacket features a black base with red and green accents. A “313” patch is displayed on the front right side, while the Pistons’ logo dominates the back of the jacket. The collar of the jacket features a removable faux-fur, similar to those of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Mopkins, who owns the reputation as one of Detroit’s biggest sneaker influencers, was ecstatic for the public to see his latest creation, which will be waiting at the locker of each Pistons player on Monday.

“I just wanted to do something out of the norm that wasn’t the typical Starter jacket,” Mopkins told The Detroit News. “I wanted to do an aviator jacket, so the inspiration came from the Tuskegee Airmen. That was one of the most iconic jackets ever, the flight jackets.”

Mopkins, 51, was born and raised on the west side of Detroit and got his start in the fashion industry as a brand ambassador for Mr. Alan’s Elite apparel stores. He eventually collaborated with several popular shoe brands, including Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Puma and FILA.

His mentor and longtime friend is Carl Banks, a Flint native and former Michigan State linebacker, who also is the president of Starter. The two collaborated on a jacket collection in 2014, and Mopkins has designed Michigan-inspired sports jackets ever since.

Mopkins has a long list of celebrities and athletes who have worn his creations, including Big Sean, Chauncey Billups, Isiah Thomas, Richard Hamilton, Mateen Cleaves, Young Jeezy, and Jalen Rose, who wore Mopkins’ Christmas-inspired Pistons jacket to the Pistons’ home game against the Lakers on Dec. 10.

“A painter tells their story with a brush and a canvas. I like to tell my story on a canvas with a needle and thread and create it with apparel,” Mopkins said. “I just want people to understand that I’m always going to represent us, meaning our heritage and our city.”

Mopkins and the Pistons have previously joined forces for the last three years to celebrate Black History Month. He and the Pistons’ retail marketing team conducted a photo shoot at the Coleman A. Young International Airport, which houses a vintage Tuskegee Airmen plane.

“For these Black History Month-themed jackets, a lot of it is being able to be proud of your heritage and showing that you are a part of the community,” said Pistons retail marketing manager Reagan Dailey-Chwalibog. “We’re proud of it. In Pistons retail, we will always look back to our hometown and shine light on the local designers, especially Ty.”

The jacket, priced at $215, is available at the Pistons’ practice facility in midtown Detroit, online at Pistons313shop.com and during the team’s home games at Little Caesars Arena, while supplies last.


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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