The NBA wins the best dressed sport style award and everyone wants to be a part of it. As the NBA tunnel becomes the new hottest fashion runway for menswear, players continue to weave their personal likeness into the world of fashion. In the last decade alone, we’ve seen players go from a strict suit and tie dress code to rockstar level attire, appearing in pre and post-game cameos.
Already having pioneered their style in the sneaker world with signature kicks from the world's biggest sportswear companies, the latest infusion of high-end luxury and street apparel is a complete 360. We’re beginning to see players stepping outside of their comfort zone and diving into their creative aspirations. Here's seven we decided to highlight and delve more into:
1. Russell Westbrook: Honor the Gift, Acne Studios
Noted as one of the most fashionable players in the league, the OKC Thunder star has been brewing several projects when it comes to apparel and design. Immediately stepping into the role of designer, Westbrook launched his first collection under his own mens streetwear brand called, “Honor the Gift.” His debut collection titled “Inner City” was inspired by his own upbringing in Los Angeles, California and featured hoodies, t-shirts, and snapbacks all paying homage to the classic emblems and familiarity of inner city league gear. The brand’s second collection “002,” is titled “Private/Public” and reflects a more graduated style with a collegiate resemblance of both public and private university garb; where preppy meets street. Aside from his personal clothing line, in February 2019 it was announced that Westbrook would be the new face of the popular Swedish brand Acne Studio. The daring brand is known for its high-end luxury streetwear attire and has been worn by the likes of Pharrell, LeBron James, and ASAP Rocky. Acne Studios creative director, Jonny Johansson, chose Westbrook to be the face as he wanted an athlete of a sport that was foreign to him to represent the denim collection. As the campaign debuted, it was clear that Westbrook was the right choice to carry the brands bold and daring essence further. It’s clear that Westbrook doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in his creative expeditions.
2. Nick Young: Most Hated Player
For some, the title of being “Most Hated” may not be something to brag about or wear proudly. For Nick Young aka “Swaggy P” thats exactly the label that he wants to rock and invites everyone to do the same. The Denver Nuggets shooting guard isn’t necessarily the most hated on in the league but the idea behind his “Most Hated Player” channels his embrace of all the criticism he faces being a public figure. What’s more interesting about this brand is that he considers it ‘merch' also known as merchandise that one sells on a musical tour. For Young, a non-musical figure, it’s a little odd to spin his line in such a manner but it’s a path he’s willing to pave. His brand features a classic comfy line of hoodies, t-shirts, and shorts all featuring either the brand name or an edgy emblem that portrays the nonchalant attitude that Swaggy P reminds us all not to be afraid to embrace.
3. Paul George: PG3 x NASA x Nike
When it comes to the shoe game, we’re beginning to see players literally stepping it up. Aside from Space Jam, the most out of this world collaboration that an NBA player has ever done would have to be the "PG3" shoes by OKC Thunder’s own Paul George. This three part collaboration between George, Nike, and NASA is a testament to how far one’s limits can truly go. The shoes were inspired by the authentic orange and blue aesthetics of astronaut apparel and feature the NASA certified logo on the back heel. What’s more is the subtly displayed quote from George stating, “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” While it may seem a bit unexpected George reveals a unique connection to the intergalactic institution as it represents a part of his upbringing in Palmdale, California where he recalls a large NASA presence as a base was stationed there. Truly a unique collaboration, George’s signature shoe surely evokes the inspirational mission that he’s set out for himself as a designer in the fashion world.
Another fresh signature shoe on the market comes from Houston Rocket’s small forward, P.J. Tucker. What’s dope about this design partnership is Tucker’s daring move to have his first collaboration ever be with the renowned Italian luxury shoe brand, Giuseppe Zanotti. Having created exclusive footwear with Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez and many others, Zanotti tasked Tucker to implement his take on their popular low-top “Urchin” sneaker. Tucker did not shy away from the challenge. His design features the bold color mix of red and black drawing direct inspiration from the Houston Rockets team colors. Titled “Urchin Rocks” we believe that this is just the first of many projects yet to come from this popular trendsetting sneakerhead.
5. Klay Thompson: Klay Thompson x Prime Society
A highly unlikely collaboration is the best way to think of Klay Thompson’s partnership with online boutique Prime Society. As we see, being an NBA athlete doesn’t necessarily constrict you to only create within the athletic industry. Golden State Warrior’s Klay Thompson is a prime example of an athlete taking things to the next level. His vision of designing led him beyond the world of apparel and landed him in the accessories department with his collaboration of designer leather bags. Teaming up with Prime Society, a high-end custom bag boutique, Thompson produced the “Championship Collection” reflecting his own personal success of being a three-time NBA Champion. The premium leather collection features three cream-colored, varied-sized bags with a signature Klay Thompson x Prime Society gold engraved emblem. A venture not many players have entered, we anticipate more unique collaborations to come from this ambitious player.
6. Chris Paul: Five Four Club
Stepping back onto the apparel side of our list is Chris Paul’s latest collaboration with the monthly subscription service called the Five Four Club. The Houston Rockets star, and current president of the NBA players association, has added the title of designer to his roster as he’s created ready to wear looks for men that go beyond the classic hoodie and sweatpants. The Five Four Club is an online men’s boutique that offers a curated package of exclusive garments sent to your door each month. Paul’s collection features casual athleisure styles but includes staple menswear pieces such as the featured tan trench coat and black cardigan. From what we’ve seen, this line represents the true dapper style of Chris Paul as we can recall seeing similar looks during his best dressed moments sitting on the sidelines. We speculate that it won’t be long before Paul debuts his own line of upscale menswear.
7. Kevin Love: BR/K.LOVE-18
Following in similar fashion as Chris Paul, the Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love teamed up with Banana Republic to create a handsome menswear collection called "BR/K.LOVE-18." The line blends the mix of athletic, sophisticated, and casual wear personally inspired by the 30-year old athlete. Love’s passion for music, sports, and culture is reflected in his personal taste which is visually telling in the campaign video-series that features audible cameos of musician Questlove, snowboarder Lindsey Vonn, and Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Citing inspirations for this collection from Hollywood classics like Paul Newman and Dean Martin, Love’s hope for this line is to create pieces that are easily adaptable and seamlessly interchangeable while looking impeccable with any combination. For a first time collaboration, Love has nailed this dapper line of which we can bet will continue to grow.
In the microwave era of highly criticized, meme'd and twitter flame-ups, NBA players are quickly becoming the fashion forward leaders we are now just finding out about. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how fashion continues to shape the NBA and further the growth of both entities.