The Next Great Product: Zipway
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
There are not many products that come across my desk that I get really excited about.
But I was geeked up today when I received my pair of Zipway pants, one of the greatest innovations in the sports apparel space in some time.
I always thought there was a great niche market in tearaway pants — the warmup bottoms that can be thrown to the floor with a yank, just like the NBA players do when they come off the bench.
The truth is it never really "took off" because the quality of the product at retail was never that good or that compelling, for that matter.
I remember when I bought my first pair of tearaways from a Champion outlet in Massachusetts in the summer of 1991. I was into Karl Maloneat the time so I picked up the full Utah Jazz warmup with the snaps down the side of the pants.
I wore the pants about 20 times before some of the buttons broke. The pants reached the trash heap before they should have.
The quality of the snaps made today are better, but the tearaway isn't as easy, nor as fun, as it could be.
Enter former New York Knicks guard John Starks, whose business partner met an entrepreneur named Daron Nunn. Nunn shared his patent pending idea of tearaway pants that had zippers on both sides and two velcro tabs on either side of the waist. With a simple pull of the velcro, the zippers slide down and the pants easily come off with style.
"Anyone who has worn tearaway pants in the past has experienced the problems," Starks said. "The biggest problem I've seen is that all the buttons don't snap off, so a guy has to reach down to get them off."
Starks said Zipway pants are also an upgrade because they don't have the air pockets that the standard tearaways do.
"You can definitely wear ours in the winter," Starks said.
Zipways just hit stores including the NBA store in Manhattan and on NBAStore.com. Even though players in the league still have buttoned up tearaways made by Adidas, Zipway was granted an NBA license.
Regular zipways cost $65, but fans will eventually be able to buy special interchangeable team panels to zip into the pants.
Starks said he thinks the market extends way beyond basketball.
"We can sell to any athlete," Starks said. "We can even envision selling it to swimmers who tear them off right as they're getting ready to dive into the pool."
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