Luke Tadashi

Refinement of just what defines streetwear is now emerging with the segment’s continued rise, and a panel of designers drawing inspiration from the court sought to tackle basketball’s influence on fashion as much of Los Angeles gears up for Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

Adidas, while plenty of its crew prepped for its 747 Warehouse event, on Thursday evening took over sneaker store Nice Kicks and an adjacent parking lot in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of its Boost You Wear shoe collaboration with local label Bristol Studio.

A panel featuring Bristol cofounder and creative director Luke Tadashi, Eric Emanuel of his own namesake label and Adidas’ Brooklyn Creator Farm vice president and creative director Denis Dekovic led a thoughtful conversation on basketball’s reemerging influence on fashion.

“I think basketball for a little while got a little bit cold and there was no excitement,” Tadashi said. “We’re at a time right now where it’s almost a renaissance, where players are able to express themselves, especially walking through the tunnel [before a game] so they can show you how they look off the court. It’s exciting to see.”

Emanuel recalled watching Allen Iverson, noting the athlete as a style icon.

“You’re starting to see people who are now in the NBA sort of remembering that time fondly and nostalgically and are starting to bring that back and recycle those styles, but in a really fresh and original way,” Emanuel said.

Dekovic, who joined Adidas from Nike, took the thought a step further, saying the style expression on the court is parallel to how the game is being played.

“Through the players, the culture is getting onto the court and it’s not just the styling of what they wear before and after the game,” he said. “It’s also in the style of how they play the game: much more expressive, much more aggressive than before.”

Basketball clothing’s reversibility, the tear-away pants, leggings layered under shorts and even some of the footwear going back to the Nineties Feet You Wear style on which today’s Crazy Boost You Wear draws inspiration are now all common takeaways from the court translated for the street.

Adidas confirmed the creation of the Brooklyn Creator Farm in 2016 as an incubator of sorts for new designs, essentially opening up the process to emerging designers and others. Tadashi’s Bristol Studio worked with Brooklyn Farm on a BYW footwear collaboration — complete with leather and suede and toggle laces — that was just released.

The trio of speakers, while all taking cues from styles on the court, have different ways of going about their inspiration, largely reflective of their environment.

For Emanuel, hailing from the East Coast, he noted a greater “flair” on the streets as seen in the styles that make their way onto street basketball games during the summer. It’s a baggier look, said the designer, who also finds old rap videos to be another source of inspiration.

On the West Coast, Tadashi said, the look is more subtle, mirroring an ease at which athletes hailing from there play the game.

“For me, the inspiration is everywhere and it’s the most important part of my job to stay curious and keep hunting for new things,” Dekovic said. “I always want to know what’s going on but, more importantly, why these things are going on. Why the rap videos today are different than two, three years ago. Why the fashion brands are embellishing. I need to understand why because only with that understanding can I understand what’s next.”

Even with retro styles and labels now making a comeback, Dekovic prefers to keep his overarching focus on what’s ahead.

“I have to look to the future and for me [while] the Boost You Wear does perhaps take some inspiration from the old Feet You Wear [style], it takes it into the future,” he said. “It’s a completely different silhouette and I like looking at what’s next. I like to create an icon that 15, 20 years from now people will look back and will try to remix into something more contemporary for them.”

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