Fashion in the NBA

Claire Nordt, Sports Editor

While keeping up with the NBA, there is one unexpected element that cannot be missed—the creative outfits worn by the players while arriving to games. The origin of the NBA’s passion for fashion can be traced back to the implementation of a dress code by the then NBA commissioner, David Stern. The code required players to dress in business casual attire during any participation in team or league events.

When first introduced, the dress code was met with criticism. Players were angered by the clear targeting towards hip hop culture due to the code’s policies that banned headgear as well as chains and pendants. The rules seemed to strip the players of the ability to express their personalities through their sense of style.

Over time, however, the players began to embrace the dress code, eventually finding a way to once again use style as a form of personal expression. Now it is a guarantee that upon arrival at the arena prior to a game, players will walk in showcasing an outfit fit for fashion week. It is almost a competition to see who can show up in the most revolutionary attire formed from fresh and modern silhouettes and accompanied by unusual textures and patterns.

One of the most notorious players in regards to fashion is Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Before every game, he can be seen strutting fashion forward outfits. These have previously included cropped trousers, bright colors and even a matching purple acid wash denim shirt and pant set. In response to the positive reactions towards his style, he released a book titled “Russell Westbrook: Style Drivers” in 2017. The book delves further into his use of clothing and accessories to express himself and includes photographs of some of his most popular looks. Westbrook is just one of many NBA players who choose to dress to impress. Other players have included feather accessories, printed blazers and much more into their outfits.

Also known in the basketball world for his sense of style is Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade. As one of the pioneers of the fashion takeover of the NBA, Wade was not afraid to take his fashion beyond arena entrances and attend Paris Fashion Week in 2011, where he was the only player in attendance. Wade continues to attend fashion shows, including Givenchy and Hermes. Similarly to Westbrook, Wade also further pursued his interest in fashion. In 2017, he partnered with Amazon to sell four of his own clothing lines. In addition to this, he has collaborated with various brands to gain more exposure to the design and fashion world. While other players may not have developed their own clothing lines, there is no doubt that the presence of early style risk-takers in the NBA influenced much of the fashion culture that exists today.

While their entrances to the arena may be grand, on the court players are limited in their abilities to showcase their style. Even still, they have managed to find one way to do so: shoes. Basketball shoes are no longer just necessary footwear, but are now canvases used to express a player’s thoughts and style. Often times shoes are adorned with tributes for family and friends of the player. This may involve including a name or significant date or number. Karl-Anthony Towns, a center for the Minnesota Timberwolves, commemorated his friend Mac Miller following the star’s passing in October 2018 by stepping onto the court in shoes bearing a print of the singer’s face. Other times, players wear shoes designed to be modern and sleek, and sometimes the kicks are completely unique and quirky.

The 2018-2019 season has had many great shoe moments. One example belongs to Langston Galloway of the Detroit Pistons. On Dec. 15, Galloway stepped onto the court sporting shoes printed with characters from Toy Story. The fun kicks no doubt left young fans amused as the characters moved along the court, and older fans were hit with nostalgia at the sight of childhood favorites. Aaron Holiday of the Indiana Pacers made a statement by stepping onto the court in floral shoes on Dec. 23. The sneakers were a pair of Nikes from Kevin Durant’s line, and they featured vibrant red flowers against a navy background.

Overall, the creativity in fashion and footwear certainly add flair and fun to the much loved game and give players a chance to express themselves.