It’s only in recent years, really, when chit-chatting with the fashionistas, the party crowd, the hipsters relatively far removed from the courts and fields of sport, that the phrase ‘tunnel look’ has reached widespread use and comprehension. The Tunnel. Those cavernous vessels beneath this country’s vast stadiums and arenas, where the highly paid, exceptionally talented athletes, like Mr. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, traverse from Escalade to locker room, from locker room to courtside, from courtside to press conference and out into the wintry night. It’s in these tunnels that fashion has once again transcended itself. Where what is worn is blurred by who is wearing it, and why. And it’s on these fluorescent-lit, concrete runways that the boys and girls, whose dreaming lead them to superstardom, can continue to do so. And yet, despite the billions made on the backs and likenesses of the select few who actually get to grace said Tunnels, the sports in question remain games—those competitive quests stripped, temporarily, of socio-political discourse, and distilled down into rules and numerics and glory—enjoyed since these lucky few were children. And thus it's no surprise that the adornment is treated similarly—seriously, competitively, and individualized, yes—but ever an extension of the imagination, of that child still dreaming deep inside. Gilgeous-Alexander has had a statistically mind-blowing NBA season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, cooly turning out nearly a point for every minute played—averaging, at the time of this story’s printing, nearly 32 a game. A newly minted Western Conference All-Star, the University of Kentucky alum defines the New School NBA star, who mixes and mingles with cultural spheres outside of his expertise with ease, poise, and a charming, childlike curiosity. Flaunt had the pleasure of speaking to the 24-year-old guard about everything from ‘legacy’ to ‘what sneaker is a must-have in his closet.’ Let the games begin. See you in The Tunnel.
Who and what are your style influences?
I don’t have any true style influences. However, Allen Iverson breaking barriers and wearing whatever he wanted opened the door for me to dress how I’m feeling and express my personality through my clothing.
What do you think makes basketball such a fashion-conscious sport?
It’s become another lane for players to express themselves and create an image of sports.
Were you always interested in fashion?
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved fashion and shopping. My parents made sure my brother and I always left the house looking the part and it has become part of my identity.
Favorite sneaker of all time?
Chuck Taylor’s and Air Force 1’s. So easy to wear with any fit.
Why is competition imperative in culture?
When there’s competition in anything we do as humans, you get the best results because people are motivated to do and be the best.
What we can learn about teamwork to resolve greater issues?
People have different ideas and perspectives all over the world. Putting them all together and creating a happy middle allows everyone to get the most out of life and resolve whatever issue is in front of them.
What is a misconception you face as an athlete?
“Athletes are one dimensional.” A lot of us have so many talents outside of our sport. We are now starting to figure out ways to express ourselves and show the world.
How has your idea of masculinity evolved?
I think it all comes down to people being comfortable in their own skin—whatever that looks like for a specific person. When you are comfortable and confident in yourself, everything else takes care of itself.
With the evolutions in NBA gameplay, what does that say about culture?
The game evolves each year. New moves, schemes, and talents. It’s only going to continue to grow as long as athletes are driven and motivated. What is your interpretation of legacy? Legacy is what you’re remembered for when you’re gone. I’m excited to continue building my legacy on and off the court.
Photographed by Mark Clennon
Styled by Mui-Hai Chu
Written by Augustus Britton
Flaunt Film: Alex Justice
Production Assistant: Cameron Garcia