Designer fashion and pro sports collided on the seventh floor of Saks Fifth Avenue on Monday night as basketball star Dwyane Wade and Dsquared2 designers Dean and Dan Caten celebrated the launch of their exclusive menswear capsule collection. The injured shooting guard, who returned to his hometown of Chicago last year after 13 years in sunny Miami playing for the Heat, spent his down time productively, introducing the nine-piece collection, featuring classics with a little flair — nylon bombers, a crystal-embellished collared shirt, lean-fit joggers and a shimmery tuxedo jacket — to media, Saks shoppers and avid basketball fans.
“[The inspiration for the collaboration consists of] the sports world and the fashion world,” Dean Caten told Fashionista, in a fitting room-turned-media green room for the evening. “We tried to keep it fashionably sporty with pieces that are easy and just staples.” The three friends and frequent collaborators wanted a capsule that essentially takes men from day to night, as glossy mags like to say.
Now, the Dsquared2 x Dwyane Wade collection isn’t the three-time NBA champion’s first foray into fashion. He counts ties, socks, underwear, clothing and sneakers, with his own Way of Wade line in partnership with Li Ning, as part of his growing portfolio. For the past five years, he’s also thrown his own mini-Fashion Week for charity with a runway event, A Night on the Runwade, which gave audiences a sneak peek at the Dsquared2 collab in March. Plus, he’s rubbed shoulders with the biggest industry influencer in the biz, Anna Wintour.
Before greeting his fans, Wade, dressed in pieces from the collection, graciously chatted with Fashionista about the difference between Chicago and Miami style, the best advice he’s received about entering the fashion game (which came from an unlikely source), and what requires thicker skin: fashion or sports?
You just held your runway show A Night on the Runwade with the Catens in Chicago. What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of putting a runway show together?
Well, we started it in Miami and we had to build a brand in the [new] space because it’s not New York, it’s not London, where they know fashion week is coming. So it was totally different to build and get support for people to come out and appreciate it. From there, it took us awhile to get the right sponsors and things like that. But having DSquared2 come on and be the title sponsor and show their collection, that made it so much easier to put on a runway this year in Chicago. Now we have the excitement. People know what to expect. They know it’s coming every year now, so it’s growing.
What do you think is the biggest difference between Chicago and Miami style?
Well, it’s hard to have style in Miami because you don’t want to wear much. [laughs] Because it’s so hot. So I never look to Miami like, ‘Oh, people got style here,’ because people either wear white or they don’t wear much. When you go to a city like Chicago, it’s obviously because of the weather. Now you’re able to show a little bit more of your personality because you’ve got to wear lots of different layers. You get to put on different things, different materials, overcoats and then another overcoat.
How do you think you’re altering your own style now that you’re in colder climates?
When I went back to Chicago, it was all about the coats. It was all about the furs. I never got the chance to wear furs like that [in Miami], so I went and bought a lot of them. Then I started wearing beanies. I like to wear mine like the Marvin Gaye style — the rolled up beanie — that’s not really serving a purpose, really. It’s just above your ears, but it brings something else to [your look].
As an elite athlete, how do you think fashion and being fashionable helps you communicate and build upon your brand?
[Being fashionable] has introduced me to a whole new arena of people, which has brought more and different eyes to my brand. Obviously my brand is me, and what I am building, so I’ve been able to go in different places and different rooms and be able to meet these new people, be able to build these new relationships and it’s been cool. It’s really taken my brand in a different direction.
You have your brand in all these different fashion categories, like bowties and your sneaker line, how do you see it growing?
You know what’s funny? I had a conversation — this was years ago — I was over at Jon Bon Jovi’s house in the Hamptons and had a conversation with Jon and a few guys … we were talking about fashion. I was telling him how I wanted to be involved in it, and at the time, the question that kept coming back to me was, ‘well, what have you done?’ I was like, ‘well, nothing!’ They were like, ‘maybe you should build your portfolio first before you go and say you want to start your own line.’
So I started from scratch; I said I want to start from the bottom up, it was the socks, it was the ties, it was the shoes, it was the underwear. My whole thing was to try to learn all this stuff instead of coming out and saying, ‘I have a name, hopefully I can make a suit and somebody will buy it.’ I really wanted somebody to understand that I’ve done multiple things, that we know what we’re doing and what we’re talking about and gain respect [that way].
Did Anna Wintour ever give you any words of advice? You’ve hung out together and sat next to each other at Fashion Week.
Yeah, I don’t know [about] words of advice. I think for me, the fact that I sat next to Anna, the fact that I’ve done multiple things with her, it’s been pretty cool. That means that she respected me as an athlete in this space and that was pretty big. Because obviously she is who she is and it means a lot to get that stamp of approval from Anna.
For any upstart athletes out there who are thinking of entering the fashion world, what advice would you give?
Don’t be afraid. I think how myself — and you see other guys like Russell Westbrook — you have to show [the fashion] on you first. You get the eyes on you first and you can’t be afraid to take chances. You can’t be afraid of people commenting or talking about you. And if you’re afraid of what people say, this might not be the space for you. Unless you have that background in design. It’s a different world than we’re used to as athletes, but get to know it and I think you’d be much more appreciative [rather] than jumping into it because you’re a name.
Do you think you need to have a thicker skin to be in sports or fashion?
I’m gonna say sports because I’m just getting into the fashion world, but I’m sure it has its challenges that I haven’t yet experienced. I’ve experienced a lot more in sports because I’ve played it longer, but I’m sure it has its challenges and to be good in anything, you gotta understand that everyone is not going to like it. No matter what you’re going to do. Not everyone is going to like you, everyone is not going to like what you do and you’ve gotta be okay with that. You’ve gotta be okay with the ones that do and focus on them. Don’t focus on others.
What is your one biggest fashion regret?
I have probably so many, right? And we all look back at something and will be like, ‘I don’t know…’ but I like to say because of those moments of regret, I’m here today. You know how they say ‘no press is bad press?’ Well, I probably got talked about and all that, but it allowed me to be here because what it did for me, attention wise, was put my name into that world, which allowed doors to open. So whatever regrets I have from what I wore allowed me to be here today, so I’m fine with it.
The Dsquared2 x Dwyane Wade capsule collection is exclusively available at select Saks Fifth Avenue locations and on saks.com.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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