The 2021 NBA Draft kicks off tonight, just days after the conclusion of the 2020-2021 NBA Season that began and ended later than in previous years due to COVID-19.
As in years past, professional and college basketball fans will tune in to see their favorite teams pick the next stars of the NBA, like Jalen Green and Evan Mobley, and of course to see what the rookies are wearing. The draft has since become a fashion affair in recent years, and this year Neiman Marcus has done part of the outfitting.
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The luxury retail company partnered with Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham, Baylor Bears’ Davion Mitchell, Auburn Tigers point guard Sharife Cooper and Tre Mann of the Florida Gators on outfits for the NBA Draft and Signing Day, with brands like Amiri on Mitchell, Versace on Cooper and Balenciaga on Mann.
“This year we started partnering with more athletes as our Neiman’s customer appreciates the style inspiration of athletes, and many athletes look to Neiman Marcus as the preeminent destination for luxury shopping. Recently, we’ve collaborated with athletes from multiple sports leagues, such as Seth Curry, Keanu Neal, Braxton Berrios and Darius Slayton among others. The NBA Draft is one of the most exciting nights of their lives, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” said Russ Patrick, SVP and general merchandise manager men’s, Neiman Marcus Group.
Cunningham, who has already signed a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Nike, was dressed at the Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour location and will be in an Isaia navy tuxedo and Christian Louboutin spike low-top sneakers. Mitchell is also wearing Christian Louboutin, and Cooper and Mann both wore Alexander McQueen.
“I mean, fashion is serious,” said Cunningham. “You have to really care about what you look like. I think this draft is a big debut for a lot of people seeing my fashion so I definitely have to come correctly and make sure that I’m not looking too crazy. Neiman Marcus is the place for my kind of fashion. We’re going to try to coordinate somewhat, but everyone is going to have their own little swag to them and get to do their own thing.”
“Our expert style advisers hosted the athletes at local Neiman Marcus stores for private styling appointments, where they were able to discover our wide range of emerging and established designer brands to find the right look for their individual style and befitting the NBA Draft Night and Signing Day events. The style advisers were keen to ensure that the player’s sizes were available and worked with our expert tailors to ensure their favorite brands look and feel great, including Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Isaia, Christian Louboutin, Prada, Amiri and more,” said Patrick.
Past NBA Draft looks have become a meme over the years for the ill-fitting suits and looks on very tall bodies, but as the NBA dress code changed in the Aughts, so did the style of the players, which trickled down to the draft prospects.
Canadian tailoring company Indochino was one of the first brands to align with the young players embarking on a professional career. The company entered a partnership with New York Knicks player and fellow Canadian RJ Barrett, and for the 2020 NBA Draft dressed 15 players including James Wiseman and Obi Toppin among others. The company also partnered with NFL draftees, dressing 2021 NFL Draft number-one overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
Now, Neiman Marcus is participating by dressing draftees during and after their big day in brands that established players, young stars and veterans wear in the tunnel before the game and at the post-game press conferences.
Fashion brands have aligned themselves with NBA athletes for over 10 years now through styling, personal shopping, fashion editorials and partnerships. Athletes like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh helped elevate the league’s fashion portfolio during their time together on the Miami Heat. What followed was years of fashion editorials with the likes of Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, who started his brand Honor the Gift, and James Harden.
The NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago in 2020, the last All-Star Weekend before COVID-19, was a fashion affair with participation from Gucci, Rimowa and Goat, as well as Louis Vuitton Men’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh and Dior Men’s Artistic Director Kim Jones through Jordan Brand.