Boston Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal isn’t about to let Amar’e Stoudemire steal the spotlight in the apparel arena.
This story first appeared in the January 13, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With Stoudemire linking up with Rachel Roy to launch a line of, first, women’s wear and subsequently men’s wear at Macy’s later this year, O’Neal has already quietly produced his own men’s collection, Le Jaunty, that he is hoping to roll out in 2011. The line, which has been tested at a few specialty stores, is now targeting department stores and a wider specialty store distribution.
Le Jaunty is designed by Michael Chew Shaw, formerly of Sean John, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ecko, Guess, Starter/Nike, Jockey and Barry Bricken, and is being billed as a “bridge between streetwear and contemporary.”
“I’ve always been into fashion,” O’Neal said in a telephone interview after a Celtics practice session on Tuesday. “I’m from Columbia, S.C., and my family is very religious. We’d go to church and Sunday school and we always had to dress up. I enjoyed that.” He said Easter was probably his favorite holiday since he was able to get a new suit every year.
“When I got to the NBA, I really got into fashion,” he added. At 6 feet 11 inches, O’Neal said he “couldn’t find things that fit me, so I had to have everything tailor made.” It was then that he discovered the “void between streetwear and contemporary” — one he sought to fill with Le Jaunty.
The collection of casual sportswear, which retails for $30 to $130, is being sold by a line of reps and the company has opened an office in New York. “We did a soft launch, but we want to move into bigger retailers like Macy’s,” O’Neal said. “We really think the brand can live there.”
O’Neal’s personal tastes are evident in Le Jaunty. “I love suits for formal engagements,” he said. “But I also like to wear jeans and button-ups. Le Jaunty offers a lot of different looks, so you can create who you want to be. We think it’s an opportunity to add a twist to your own personal style.”