A.J. Soprano, despite being New Jersey mafia royalty, was also just a teenager from the early ‘00s and, as a teenager from the early ‘00s, he loved nü-metal. A.J.’s wardrobe of band shirts was as extensive as his existential angst was hilarious (please refer to the @ajsopranoshirts Twitter account), but none of his wardrobe has been as widely celebrated as a Slipknot windbreaker from the third episode of The Sopranos’ third season.
In recognition of this iconic moment, The Ringer has published an oral history of the windbreaker that looks into the tortured artistic process that resulted in the costuming choice. “I think we got some merchandise from the band or record company. There was a Slipknot windbreaker in the package,” remembers Sopranos costume designer Juliet Polcsa. “I liked the color. A.J. needed a jacket. It was that simple!”
The piece explains that Robert Iler, who played A.J., “started showing up to set skateboarding with, like, Pantera shirts on and Slipknot shirts on,” which led to his character wearing the same kind of stuff. “I had [the Slipknot windbreaker] in burgundy, I had it in black,” Iler says. “I had both of those and I’d wear them for sure.” (He also says he had a Slipknot jumpsuit that he wanted to wear on the show, but this was cruelly denied by wardrobe.)
Iler was a big fan of Slipknot and met them backstage at the Roxy in 1999. He says, “I’ve met, like, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, and that has to be the most starstruck I ever was.” Later, watching the concert from the side of the stage made him think “this was the greatest night of my life. Nothing will ever be this cool ever again.”
Slipknot’s Clown (M. Shawn Crahan) was also interviewed for the piece. Crahan says he didn’t care about The Sopranos at the time, but ended up watching it later and being “just generally happy and joyful” to see his band referenced in the show, which he’s now “a huge fan of.”
A new version of the jacket is available on Slipknot’s merch shop, but the original, which Iler says was purged along with so much else after he “watched a documentary about being a minimalist,” is long gone.
Read the entire oral history at The Ringer in its memory.
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