In addition to their athletic prowess, NBA stars are celebrated for their trend-setting style, with their unique fashion choices evolving over the years, both on and off the court. What was once a game has become a lifestyle choice, with big-name brands and fans wanting to get a piece of the action.
Here, we delve into the evolution of NBA swag, learning more about the global impact it has posed on the wardrobes of many fashionistas today…
The Early Years and Their Influence on NBA Style Today
From Walt ”Clyde” Frazier, the NY Knicks point guard, to Wilt Chamberlain, the Los Angeles Lakers center, both of these NBA athletes are renowned for their hypnotizing style on and off the court.
On the court, they donned the style of the classic silk jersey, knee-high socks, sneakers, and Mitchell and Ness NBA shorts. Off the court, their kaleidoscopic, chest-revealing silk shirts paired with skin-tight flares oozed that 60s and 70s fashion appeal.
This was an era of opulence and one that honored gender-defiant silhouettes, which embraced physical features. Both Frazier and Chamberlain weren’t strangers to the covers of iconic magazines,
gracing them sometimes more than the top models themselves!
Paving the Way
Frazier and Chamberlain’s love for supercars and elegant fur coats laid the fashion foundations for contemporary NBA stars today. One such name? Los Angeles Clippers’ Russell Westbrook is deemed a fashion influence and heavily dominates the style scene both on and off the court.
His fashion line, ‘Honor The Gift,’ is inspiration by his effortlessly sporty style. Catering to men, women, and children, the backstory behind this brand is dedication and self-belief, and it inspires fans never to stop working towards their goals.
Another player to follow in the footsteps of Chamberlain and Frazier? PJ Tucker. The Philadelphia 76ers forward has spent years perfecting
his on and off-court style, with many of his more unique choices
gaining him huge respect from the ‘in’ fashion crowd.
From everyday looks comprising floral embellished button-down
shirts paired with color-coordinating cream pants and brown-suede accented sneakers to made-to-measure plaid suits, his style is adventurous and spontaneous.
An Influential Cultural Force
The NBA has had a huge influence on various aspects of pop culture. From television to fashion, to film and music, this sport has integrated its way into our lives in a big way. One example of this is the ambassadors they appoint. One of the latest to be announced? BTS star SUGA.
As many will have seen from the media coverage, the South Korean producer, rapper, and songwriter is a diehard fan of the sport. From adapting his stage name from his high school position to donning a ‘Tune Squad jersey in his music hit ‘Dynamite’, the 30-year-old is an avid NBA fan.
One of his league initiatives includes collaborating with Mitchell & Ness on a new NBA apparel collection ‘SUGA x NBA, which is available to preorder now.
This line features NBA team-branded hoodies, t-shirts, headwear, shorts, and jackets across six NBA teams; comprising cities where the musician performed in his recent tour. These include the Golden State Warriors, the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the LA Clippers.
SUGA has had a huge creative input on the apparel line – all attire, to signify his relationship with the NBA, is marked with SUGA’s Agust D moniker as well as various design motifs, which take inspiration from his album D-DAY.
Making a Comeback
As well as the many off-court styles and fashions inspired by pop culture, NBA jerseys of the past are now making a comeback. Despite new markets, new players, and an in-season tournament all premiering this season, a definite nod to the past is proving prolific this year.
These shirts, which first hit the scene in the ’00s, once served as
symbols of status for musicians, who donned the retro uniforms in a variety
of music videos. Today’s throwbacks encompass some of the most
prevalent styles from the ’90s, with many teams unveiling Classic Edition uniforms for the 2022-23 season. All take inspiration from yesteryear’s franchise favorites, with the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe
Bryant 2000- 01 Authentic Swingman Jersey being a prime example.
What does this mean? The classic edition uniforms are back! Jerseys are swapping mesh uniforms for the silky, shiny jerseys worn by the original WNBA stars. These retro shirts and shorts are being worn both on and off the court.
The Bottom Line
From modest beginnings to the multimillion-dollar industry it is today, NBA tunnels are now the equivalent of runways and the players aren’t
missing a beat! It’s not uncommon to see these athletes at some
of the hottest shows in Paris and New York, scouring for the latest
trends and fits to show off their style.
Yet beyond the collaborations, sponsorships, and investments,
NBA fashion allows players to find themselves as individuals, which
often leads to a sideline business beyond the game, a project that is hugely beneficial when they retire.
And for those of us who don’t hold an NBA championship ring, taking
style notes from the players will allow you to dress like a basketball star,
both in everyday life and for an occasion.