Bidding good-bye to Josh Pastner’s striped Russell Athletic polo shirt

Saturday is a bittersweet day for Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner and two of his favorite shirts.

For the last time as a representative of his employer, Pastner can wear one of two striped golf shirts (one navy blue, the other black) that he wore with stunning frequency in his first two seasons at Tech. The shirt was manufactured by Russell Athletic, which has been the athletic department’s gear supplier. But Tech’s contract with Adidas goes into effect Sunday, meaning he’ll be contractually obligated to wear Adidas gear when acting in his duties as the Yellow Jackets’ coach.

“My famous Russell polo will have to be retired, I guess,” Pastner said. “Maybe it’ll go into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame.”

Pastner’s striped Russell polo, stitched with “GT Basketball” above the left breast and the Russell logo above the right, became so ubiquitous that the Tech athletic department considered a promotion in which it gave away replicas of the polo to Tech students for a game before opting for an alternative (if equally familiar) homage to the Pastner look: wigs mimicking his curly mop of hair.

Pastner’s sartorial choice reflects something of himself – comfortable with routine and not particularly concerned with personal appearance. Last September, when Pastner turned 40, the Tech athletics Twitter account posted a video of him with 40 photos of him wearing the striped polos. Pastner retweeted it with the comment “One less minute picking out a (shirt emoji) = one more minute thinking about (basketball emoji).”

“I’m not a fashion expert,” he said. “Just easy and accessible and throw it on, what the heck. It fits well.”

The Pastner polo has its own origin story. The striped shirts were originally ordered for team managers to wear for the 2015-16 season. When Pastner was hired in April 2016, the inventory of polo shirts, yet to be re-stocked by Russell, had been so picked over by the previous staff, they were the only shirts left in his size. The definitive Pastner look was a creation borne of necessity.

The shirt may have made its final appearance Friday at a Tech camp.

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner answers a question during the ACC men's basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

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More on Georgia Tech’s switch to Adidas

Pastner said he wasn’t sure, but said he was pretty sure that he had a few of the same striped Russell polos. As for the rest of his Russell gear that he won’t bequeath into Tech’s annals, Pastner said he would give it away to friends. He already has received some apparel from Adidas. The team has been going through summer workouts in Adidas workout gear and basketball shoes.

“I will say I really like the Adidas stuff,” he said. “It looks really sharp.”

Pastner said that Adidas has sent him photos and a sample of a prototype for the uniform that Tech will wear this season.

“I think we’ll be a good-looking team,” he said. “Hopefully we play as well as we look.”

As for an Adidas polo?

“I don’t think they’re going to make anything special, but I’m sure from the Adidas polos, I’ll find one that I wear on a normal basis,” he said.

As things would have it, Sunday will also be the first day that another of Pastner's habits will be changed, as a new state law in Georgia will prohibit drivers from holding or touching their phones will driving. Pastner has been known to talk and text while driving.

Pastner said he has begun using the talk-to-text function on his phone.

“I think we all can be better at it in all areas,” he said. “Just looking down and reading a text, that split second can change your life or change somebody else’s life.”