Fashion Men's Fashion

The New Post-NBA Career? Streetwear Designer

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A few years ago, Kanye West and Virgil Abloh spotted then Lakers guard Nick Young at a fashion event. On the spot, Kanye told Young he was the best-dressed player in the NBA.

Then Virgil heaped his praise on Young: “Mr. Cool, Mr. Cool, Mr. Cool, Mr. Cool guy,” Abloh remarked.

“My confidence went through the roof,” Young said, speaking over the phone while driving through the California desert. “When he said that, I was like, I got to do something.”

“Something” became Most Hated, Young’s go at a streetwear line. On the site right now are flannel shirts, puff-printed with custom artwork and signature logos, in addition to an original basketball-short silhouette, paisley-printed, complete with mesh liner to form a half-basketball, half–board short. Young knows that there’s a difference between being a fashion designer and selling tees. “If you’re not gonna put effort in, and you got your friend or somebody making clothes for you and just put a racing stripe on the sleeve,” he said, “I think that’ll get played out.”

And in a moment when NBA players are more precious about what they wear than ever before, they seem to agree with Young’s taste. The Most Hated roster includes League Fits all-stars like Jordan Clarkson, Iman Shumpert, and Kelly Oubre.

When Young started the brand, in 2017, the most popular post-playing job for NBA players might have been becoming a broadcaster, or maybe getting into coaching. In recent years, players like Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant have begun dipping their toes into the world of venture capital. But Young, along with fellow NBA vet Brandon Jennings, who owns a streetwear brand called Tuff Crowd, have dressed for the job they wanted—and gotten it. The NBA isn’t just the most stylish sports league on the planet, it’s also the only one producing fashion designers.

For Jennings and Young, brand-building was a way to capitalize on their reputations as cult-loved—if not All-Star—players. “It’s yours. It’s something that you own,” Jennings said, when asked about starting Tuff Crowd. “We in the NBA, right? We have a lot of money. Say a guy makes 15, 20 million dollars. Your financial adviser is going to tell you, ‘Just invest in this company,’ or ‘Just do this and do that.’ You’re not really gonna be an owner of anything yet.”

Young agreed—saying that, at the very least, players should take ownership of their brand through personalized merch. “People are making money off of it, [so] why not do it yourself?” Young said. “Tyler Herro should have some dope ‘Hero’ merch. That’ll sell, especially during the playoffs. Instead of Nike making all the money.”

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