A few years ago, Kanye West and Virgil Abloh spotted then Lakers security guard Nick Young at a fashion event. On the spot, Kanye Young said he was the best-dressed player in the NBA.
Then Virgil praised Young, “Mr. Cool, Mr. Cool, Mr. Cool, Mr. Cool,” remarked Abloh.
“My confidence went through the roof,” said Young, speaking on the phone as he drove through the California desert. “When he said that, I thought I have to do something.”
“Something” was hated the most, Young goes on a streetwear line. The site currently has flannel shirts printed with custom graphics and signature logos, as well as an original basketball short silhouette with a paisley print and mesh liner to create a half basketball, half board short. Young knows that there is a difference between being a fashion designer and selling t-shirts. “If you don’t want to make an effort and you get your friend or someone to make clothes for you and just put a racing stripe on your sleeve,” he said, “I think that will work.”
And at a moment when NBA players care more about what they’re wearing than ever before, they seem to agree with Young’s tastes. The Most Hated roster includes League Fits all-stars like Jordan Clarkson, Iman Shumpert and Kelly Oubre.
When Young started the brand in 2017, perhaps the most popular post-playing job for NBA players was becoming a broadcaster or maybe getting into coaching. In recent years, players like Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant have started dipping their toes into the world of venture capital. But Young, along with his NBA vet, Brandon Jennings, who owns a streetwear brand called Tuff Crowd, got dressed for the job they wanted – and got it. Not only is the NBA the most stylish sports league in the world, it’s also the only one that produces fashion designers.
For Jennings and Young, branding was a way to capitalize on their reputation as iconic – if not all-star – players. “It’s yours. It’s something you own,” Jennings said when asked if he’d like to start Tuff Crowd. “We in the NBA, right? We have a lot of money. Say a man makes 15, 20 Millions of dollars. Your financial advisor will tell you, “Just invest in this company” or “Do this and that.” You won’t own anything yet. “
Young agreed, saying that players should at least take ownership of their brand through personalized merch. “People make money [so] why not do it yourself? “Young said.” Tyler Herro should have a dope ‘Hero’ merch. That will sell, especially during the playoffs. Instead of Nike making all the money. “