Root for the Hometown With the Detroit Pistons’ New Merch

The new branding is as much about repping Detroit as it is about boosting the team
Anyone can show some team spirit with the Detroit Pistons’ new merch. Unisex Pistons D-Up Team Logo T-Shirt, $25, at // Photograph by Xavier Cuevas, courtesy of the Detroit Pistons

As you may or may not have noticed, our resident NBA team’s swag has a fresh, new vibe these days, part of an ongoing marketing refresh that aims to put equal emphasis on both Detroit and Pistons.

The team launched a new e-commerce site late last year. With the new official merch site came new “313” and “DET” logos. The marks are a part of a new DETail Threads private label — a lifestyle line of off-the-court men’s, women’s, and youth apparel — featuring T-shirts, hoodies, accessories, and drinkware. Along with new logos, you’ll find tees bearing sayings like “Detroit Is a Team Sport,” “Respect the Code,” and “In It For My City” to appeal to die-hard team fans and casual supporters who want to hype their hometown.   

“We’re trying to capture the next generation of fans and needed to make sure what we’re doing internally reflected that, and that we can connect not only with the future fans, but how do we validate ourselves and continue to validate ourselves with the city?” says Tyrel Kirkham, who became the Pistons’ vice president of brand and marketing strategy last August.

From an apparel perspective, Kirkham says that meant designing subtle iterations of the iconic Pistons logo that give people new ways to support the brand — and to rep Detroit. “Knowing that we recently relocated [to Little Caesars Arena in 2017], it’s important to recognize — and most importantly represent — the city that you’re here for.” 

Mike Zavodsky, who became the Pistons’ chief business officer last June, says the new logos and private label represent the intersection of the team’s history and Detroit’s impact on music, art, and sports. And what better way to reinforce that intersection than by calling on a longtime Pistons fan who represents the city in everything from his musical projects to community outreach? 

Big Sean joined the Pistons as creative director of innovation in December. In his new role, the rapper-entrepreneur will help guide various off-the-court initiatives, such as team merch design and custom line extensions; in-game experience (he’ll curate music for halftime performances and DJ playlists, for example); and community programming through his Sean Anderson Foundation. 

“We felt he was the perfect person, given the aesthetic that he brings to the table, his creativity, and the main fact that he’s a lifelong Pistons fan from Detroit, [thus] creating an authentic connection to the team and the brand,” Zavodsky says. To kick off the partnership, Big Sean added his Don Life logo to the team’s practice jersey.

Setting the tone for its marketing reset, the team released a video titled D-Up to motivate fans who can’t cheer the team on at LCA for now, recognize the resilient spirit among Detroiters across generations, and honor local businesses and talent. Musicians Curtis Roach and Sada Baby; Détroit is the New Black owner Roslyn Karamoko; and Bo Shepherd and Kyle Dubay, owners of design studio Woodward Throwbacks, all appear in the campaign video as former NBA-er and Detroit native Jalen Rose narrates. The Pistons also partnered with local jewelry company Rebel Nell to release a 12-piece accessory line made of repurposed 2019 City Edition team-issued jerseys.  

“We want to be a part of everyone’s ecosystem in some way, shape, or form,” Zavodsky says. “However we can integrate ourselves and become a part of the fabric of your everyday life — that’s the goal.”