When Dwayne Wade got engaged to actress Gabrielle Union, he decided that rather than shop for ties for himself and his groomsmen, he would just design them on his own and later sell them to the masses.
Wade is one of a number of professional basketball players that have taken on fashion design as a hobby and business venture. Karizza Sanchez, style editor at Complex, said the growing trend of players launching exclusive fashion lines stems largely from the slew of celebrities and performers turned designer in the late 90s and early aughts. This includes clothing created by rappers such as Jay-Z’s Rocawear and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Sean Jean in the late 90s, as well as the more recent Yeezy collection by Kanye West.
“It’s a little bit of a reflection of the fashion industry now accepting athletes in the same way that they do rappers,” she said. “Basketball players have been interested in fashion for a long time and it’s a progression of their interest and being able to turn their interest into a business.”
The following players have succeeded at taking their talents off the courts and to the design studio, with an emphasis on sharing designs with consumers at affordable price points.
Dwyane Wade, former Miami Heat player and newest member of the Chicago Bulls, has taken his eye for design to accessories in recent years, namely watches, socks and underwear.
Wade, who is originally from Chicago, recently launched his eighth collection with the Windy City-based Tie Bar, after first approaching the brand in 2013 to come aboard.
Allyson Lewis, head of design at Tie Bar, said Wade’s unique aesthetic has been a major draw for the brand, which has worked on a number of personalized tie lines with the basketball player, centered on specific themes, including his 2014 wedding collection.
“He has a really unique personal style that he feels very confident in,” Lewis said. “He felt it was really missing in the market, so he wanted to bring his style to accessories.”
Much of his ideas were inspired from the numerous fashion shows and events he attends, most recently the Council of Fashion Designer of America Awards, where he was spotted wearing a Public School tuxedo.
Lewis noted that for players like Wade, fashion has become so integrated into their day-to-day life that fashion lines feel like a natural extension.
“You see photos of athletes walking to the arena, and it’s become very much a fashion statement what they’re wearing into the game,” she said.
Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook has already made a name for himself in fashion at just 27, starting with partnerships with brands like Public School and Del Toro, and now with his own line at Barneys.
Sanchez noted that despite the increased interest in fashion among basketball players, Westbrook has been a standout as one of the few working in luxury space, in part because he’s “more adventurous and more of a risk taker,” she said.
A photo posted by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on
The point guard certainly has clout — he recently wore a long-sleeved oversized Vetements shirt before a game (with a retail value of $775), and the company experienced a 26 percent spike in searches for “Vetements long sleeved pullover” within 12 hours.
Not only did he introduce the NBA to the cult brand, but made a statement about his own personal fashion sense, one that shows a breadth of knowledge of luxury wear.
“I think of basketball as just a great platform for me to use to jump off into different things,” he told Adweek. “[I don’t want to] have someone say, ‘Oh that’s Russell Westbrook, he plays basketball.’ No, it’s ‘That’s Russell Westbrook, he does everything.'”
Amar’e Stoudemire is not shy about his fashion enthusiasm, dedicating a section of his personal website to fashion. On the page, called “Mr. Fashion,” he writes his style mantra and the dedication he brings to cultivate look.
“To be fashionable takes time; clothes must be ironed, shoes polished, and jackets brushed,” the site says. “The person who has mastered this process has learned to appreciate and respect themselves. Self-respect is the foundation of respecting others.”
Making my rounds in NYC 🗽 my home away from home. 1st Stop @3×1 then @supremenewyork then @publicschoolnyc can’t forget @nbacares 🙏🏾 (Bronx) last but not least. Had to show love to the homie Matt @deltoroshoes 👞 posted next to 1 of the hardest artist in the #Art 🎨 world @devintroy #TheMelechCollection
The free agent collaborated with Rachel Roy in 2011 on a collection for Macy’s, part of a limited edition women’s fashion line that was debuted at Macy’s in Herald Square in New York City as part of a Fashion Night Out event.
“He works hours above and beyond what some of his co-workers do,” Roy told The New York Times in 2011. “And it’s the same way in fashion. It becomes a lifestyle. I don’t stop at 12 o’clock; I don’t stop at 1 o’clock. I breathe it and I think it and I love it and it’s me. And he just loves fashion, beyond that.”
While most men may not be as big as Shaquille O’Neal, who stands at 7-foot-1 and weighs 325 pounds, those that come close can shop the clothing line of the basketball legend at Macy’s.
O’Neal, who was formerly a center for the Los Angeles Lakers and is now an analyst on “Inside The NBA,” first teamed up with the retailer in 2014, starting first with 100 Macy’s stores with offerings at varying price points with a focus on accessibility.
“I originally wanted to develop a more fashion-forward menswear collection at an affordable price,” O’Neal said in 2014. “Once Peerless and I developed the collection, the reaction from Macy’s was so positive that we decided to make the collection in all sizes.”
The formalwear is still available at Macy’s today, where shoppers can go browse full suit sets, ties and more. O’Neal also launched a line of eyewear earlier this year with glasses company, America’s Best.
A photo posted by DR. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on