CHASING TIGERS: Like many of his ambidextrous peers, Phillip Lim is game for interdisciplinary opportunities and his latest venture is a hook-up with the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets.
Having partnered with Volvo Cars last fall for a sustainable weekend travel bag, launched the “House of Slay” comic series with a few fellow fashion designers, and crafted a cookbook further back, the New York-based designer has crossed the East River to collaborate with the Nets on exclusive Chinese New Year merchandise.
It wasn’t known if Lim will be courtside at the Barclays Center Tuesday night, when the home team taps off against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Brooklyn Nets will commemorate the Chinese New Year with a celebration that is being presented by the restaurant chain Panda Express.
This marks the first time that Lim and his namesake brand, 3.1 Phillip Lim, has linked with a sports team. As a nod to 2022 being the Year of the Tiger, the collaboration includes a crewneck sweatshirt embellished with an image of a tiger. Lim’s designs will be sold exclusively in the Nets’ team story at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn Fanatics, starting Tuesday.
Tuesday’s event is part of the NBA’s 11th league-wide Lunar New Year campaign, celebrating the most important holiday for people of Chinese descent.
Recently, the league has come under fire for its silence over China’s human rights violations, including the mistreatment and killings of Uyghur Muslims. China is a key territory for the NBA and the league’s business operations there are reportedly worth upwards of $5 billion.
The matter intensified earlier this week after Chamath Palihapitiya, a 10 percent stakeholder in the Golden State Warriors, told his co-host during an “All-In” podcast, “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, OK? You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you care, the rest of us don’t care…I’m just telling you…a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things I care about, yes, it’s below my line.”
In 2020, Nets co-owner Joe Tsai and his Nets co-owner Claire Wu Tsai launched their Social Justice Fund and committed $50 million to supporting the BIPOC community in Brooklyn. Joe Tsai is a founding board member of the Asian American Foundation.
Like the Nets, Lim is committed to supporting and uplifting communities in need.
Last year following the upswing in hate crimes against the Asian community, Lim wasted no time in speaking out publicly and initiating fundraising for victims of such crimes, Asian American and Pacific Island-owned small businesses and grassroots organizations. The designer started a GoFundMe initiative, which raised $7 million in aid.
Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on TNT and it will be available in China on Tencent and Migi. The Nets will coordinate with NBA China to distribute social and digital content pieces across the Nets’ and the league’s channels.
The new collaboration sprang from Lim’s and the Nets’ shared interest in the importance of strength of community and the intersectionality of different cultures. Tuesday’s Chinese New Year-themed game is part of the Nets Unite platform, which aims to build unity, celebrate culture and foster equity by playing up the rich traditions of our diverse community.
In a statement, BSE Global’s John Abbamondi said that Tuesday’s game will be an opportunity for fans to learn about the Chinese New Year traditions “from across the world and right here within our community. We are excited to collaborate with Phillip Lim to showcase how fashion and sport can work together to connect different communities and individuals’ backgrounds.” BSE Global owns the Nets and the Barclays Center.
Panda Express’ involvement in Tuesday night’s special event will include giving a red envelope — a tradition that is emblematic of wishing good fortune for the new year — to every fan at the game. Each of the red envelopes contains a QR code that directs recipients to PandaLNY.com to play a game with the chance to win awards that will be redeemable at any Panda Express in the U.S. Fans can also enroll in a sweepstakes to try to win a jersey autographed by Kevin Durant, by scanning a QR code located on pop-up banners that will be hung throughout the arena.
Fans are being encouraged to take their seats by 7:15 p.m. for the opening ceremony that will feature “The Joyous String Ensemble” taking part in the national anthem performance. Shuming Han will announce the starting lineups in Mandarin and Consul general Huang Ping of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York will deliver an opening message.
In addition, Team Hype and the Brooklynettes will be showing off special dance routines and the Chinese youth hip-hop dance team Taka Land will perform. Attendees can also check out a Chinese New Year photo booth, Chinese New Year shooting shirts in the tram store and videotaped Chinese New Year wishes from Nets players throughout the game.
Barclays Center’s Brooklyn Market, which includes local minority-owned restaurants, will offer cuisine from Chinese-owned restaurants Yaso Tangbao, Mimi Cheng’s and The Tang. Before the game gets underway, students from New York University’s Chinese Student Group will participate in a panel with BSE employees.