The Miami Heat 2010-11 season has arrived and you are among the lucky ones to have a ticket to a few games. So what are you going to wear? And how will you show off your Heat pride this season? With expectations for the team at an all-time high, your Heat wardrobe must reflect that. (This is Miami, after all, and not Cleveland!)
Jason Franklin has the answer. The 31-year-old creator of Sportiqe Apparel, a fashion-forward collection of casual sportswear, is creating 15 to 18 different Miami Heat looks in time for the 2010-11 season.
“Going to a Heat game is going to be the place to be and it's going to be tougher to get into than any top club in Miami,” Franklin said. “So it will be even more important to be wearing the most fashionable product there.”
The newest creation – featuring the likenesses of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade – will be on sale in mid-August with the rest of the collection shipping by the end of September. (Aside from the Heat store at the AmericanAirlines Arena, the shirts will be available at Bloomingdales, MiamiHoopsGear.com and the Sportiqe website. Other collections are available at Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and at karmaloop.com, and footballfanatics.com )
The Deerfield, Ill. native started his company with solid financial investors who believed in his product. Since their first set of clients – which included the Dave Matthews Band and 8 NBA teams including the Heat – his business, now based in Tempe, Az., has grown to include several artists and a sales force.
And Franklin’s vision is not limited to sports. He has been approached by Ford Motor Company to create a heritage collection of their cars, and a similar venture with U.S. Airways highlighting defunct airlines such as Mohawk and Piedmont. The ESPN Heaven line showcases the networks original lineup of obscure sporting events such as karate championships, tractor pulls or slow pitch softball, and celebrates them on t-shirts.
We chatted with Franklin to learn more about the brand, the Heat line, and his predictions for the upcoming season
What got your started in this line of work?
I started out as a ball boy with the Chicago Bulls and started designing baseball caps at age 12 for a neighbor of mine. I was around a lot of sporting events growing up and somehow I took a liking to baseball hats and it just grew from there. I started the company five years ago focusing on fashion apparel.
What was that first cap like?
The first cap was a grafitti-driven cap, a canvas baseball hat for some colleges. My mom still has it downstairs in her house. She has a museum down there for my designs.
How do you get your inspiration for your designs?
The most important thing we do is the fabric and we try and find the most comfortable fabric out there that you want to put on and not take off. And then it also has to have a very cool graphic.
Can you make changes to a team’s logo?
We are always changing the graphic to keep up with the fashion. It depends with the leagues, but there are some guidelines we are asked to follow, like you can't put any text over the logo. But we try and push the boundries and deliver what is fashionable. And the people that work with us are at times lenient with us because they know our product.
What’s been the most rewarding part of the business?
Take this morning. I am getting email from my friends saying (Saints QB) Drew Brees was on the NFL Network wearing a Sportiqe shirt. That's rewarding. It's like my art and I am getting a chance to see people really like what we're doing. It's been a dream to get Sportiqe to where it is now and it's been exceding our expectations.
We have seen several designs for Miami Heat apparel - some at the ESPN Style Studio during the recent ESPYs. Will all of the styles be available this season?
To be a Heat fan this year is gonna be exciting not just on the court but off the court as well. And we are really going to be allowed to be creative with our Heat collection. The collection will be expansive for the Heat - between 15 to 18 styles. The garments and graphics are done, it's just a matter of plugging them in. By mid to late August the shirt with Bosh, Wade and LeBron will be available and the rest of the stuff will be in the stadium store by middle of September.
Got a prediction on how the Heat will do this season?
I think the Heat will finish as one of the top two teams in the end of the season. However, I think in apparel sales the Heat will be No. 1
When will Miami fans get to see some Dolphins gear, since their season is around the corner?
We would love the opportunity to do a Dolphins line, but Reebok and Adidas have an exclusive contract with the NFL for one more season. I think we will continue to add to the demand of NFL fans wanting our Sportiqe brand and they will eventually be heard.
What's next for your line - baby wear? shirts for pets? What can we expect?
Every season we challenge to stay up on the curve with fan fashion and I think you will see an expanision in sport and a new league. I think you will see an expanision in retail and we hope to be in malls and majority of sports areneas as well.
Will you make it to any Heat games?
I will be at several Heat games this season, helping people stay fashionalble. Sort of like a fashion patrol. I will be there at halftime helping fans get their product and correct sizing. You can expect me there this season.