Dwyane Wade's talents extend far beyond the confines of a basketball court. Sure, it has been his launch pad. But the longtime basketball player is recognized as much in the fashion scene as he is in the athletic one. Wade has had countless fashion partnerships, and he's adding to the list: Away luggage, Stance socks, Mission athletic gear, Hublot watches. It goes on.
But Wade isn't phased by his laundry list of commitments or intense travel schedule. He's just doing things he likes. And he's doing them well. We caught up with the star-slash-fashion-empire-builder on his new endeavors, old passions, and where he's going next.
Fashion wasn't in the initial plan.
Fashion is not something I grew up wanting to do; it just came along on the journey. We all have an idea of what we like, of what we think others like. Fashion is this place where we're able to bring some of that to life. For me, it’s really been about bringing your style, your personality, your adventures, your everything to a certain collection for a certain brand.
He works with brands and products he genuinely loves.
Luggage has always been a thing for me, so Away felt like a really natural partnership. I’ve always wanted to make my own luggage. I travel a lot, and I know what makes it easy for me. I like to use something that all looks alike. From my toiletry bag, to my luggage that’s going underneath the plane, to my carry-on luggage, I like to look uniform. That was one of my main conversations with Away. Stance was similar. Before I signed with them six or so years ago, I had really wanted to start my own sock brand. And my new work with them, called PWKY, is doing just that.
Understanding the brand is the first step.
I'm always trying to understand: What is the brand doing? Where is it going? Take Stance, for example. I love when I see people wearing Stance socks and they don’t know they came from something I worked on. That’s really my goal. People see something they like, and they get it. They’re not getting it because some specific person designed it; they bought it because they liked it. That's always a cool moment for me.
Wade is a last-minute, late-night overpacker.
You want to make sure you pack things that make you feel comfortable; it's kind of like bringing some of your home with you. But of course, with all the rules and regulations, you can’t take everything you would like to take. I’m one of those people who overpacks for the most part because I don't want to ever be without something I wish I had brought.
I’m a late-night packer, too. If I have a flight in the morning, it’s going to take me two hours to pack. I like to set the music, set the vibe. I cannot pack without music. Then I think: Where are you going? What outfits do you need? I make sure I have everything for that one outfit—belt, underwear, socks, the whole thing. I'm laying out these complete outfits all over my counter so I can see them. I’ll bring a few extra outfits just in case something comes up.
He's helping Stance launch a new line.
Stance and I have had a relationship for six years. It was so cool to come in with them and help grow the brand. They're making socks spontaneous and fun, which is how it should be. Before I signed with them, I wanted my own sock brand. We were able to sit down and come up with a brand to do that, which is called PKWY [pronounced parkway]. I wanted it to be a little more affordable, a little more accessible. For this, we use a little lower quality of a sock, but it's a lot less in price and it's meant for the masses. I wanted to see what kind of cool elements can we bring to a lower tier of socks, which is what most of America wears. [Editor's note: PWKY launches this fall.]
He doesn't have a personal uniform.
I would love to be that person that just wears one outfit all the time, but I'd just get bored with it. I have to travel a lot, so a lot of my outfits are picked out beforehand. When I'm traveling for work, what I'm packing is mostly about what city I'm going to. I have to plan around the weather a lot. Am I going somewhere colder? Rainier? When I go somewhere for fun, it's usually to a warm, fun place so I'm packing cool, fun things.
He's a big fan of short shorts.
I get the most excited about summer packing. It's summer; I'm in it. I love a good pair of shorts with my thighs out. The smaller the better, really. I’m really into my thighs being out. You want to feel fly, especially if you're traveling. You want to dress the part of the place. For me, it’s trying to feel out the vibe of where I’m going. What's the place like? What do people there wear?
He's mastered the art of the perfect travel outfit.
I don't want to be one of those people that needs to take everything off in security. I never travel with belts, or jewelry, or shoes that aren’t easy to come off. I try to make sure when I'm going through that it’s easy breezy.
He owns a lot of T-shirts. A lot.
T-shirts are definitely what I own the most of. I have way too many T-shirts—easily more than 1,000. But I really do love them. They're a staple. I truly just get tees every day of my life for different things, and I keep them all. We’re constantly trying to find different compartments around the house to put the T-shirts in. They’re organized, color-coordinated by color and type. For example, my athletic whites are together, where my dressier whites will be together somewhere else.
I've given so many of my clothes away, but I somehow still have too many T-shirts. I don't really think there's a "perfect" T-shirt out there; it's more about what style or fit you're going for. For me, a daily T-shirt is something that just isn’t big. It just fits. It lays on your chest the right way. You feel good, and not sloppy.
He doesn't get too sentimental about his clothes.
I’m pretty cool with just letting things go. I'm always trying to get rid of stuff, donate clothes, or work with the RealReal [an online luxury consignment shop] to get things to new owners. I don't want to go through my closet and pick the stuff; I don't want to get too sentimental. I might think like, "Oh, I should keep this or that." But for what? My body changes so much over the years that there are things that just aren’t right. You gotta just let that stuff go.
Basketball, of course, has changed his style.
Basketball has changed my style a lot, especially because it has allowed me to travel the world. I’ve met so many people I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for basketball. It has taken me everywhere. You’re influenced by what you see and what you hear and where you go. My style is definitely influenced by just traveling the world and meeting people along the way.
He appreciates his fellow NBA style stars.
I can appreciate different styles on different people. If you think old-school players, I love looking at old pictures or videos of Dr. J, the way he used to dress, or Walt Clyde Frazier, how he used to dress—how he still dresses. The players before us, they used to dress very, very well. And then it went through a point in the NBA where style became very hip-hop and it became very cool to wear the baggy, the big, the hats. Then the generation changed over and it went to where it is now. Guys are dressing pretty business-like, but spinning it with modern colors and details. Russell Westbrook, P.J. Tucker, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler. These guys all have their own style, their own flair.
He taught himself fashion.
I'm really learning on the fly. As you go through life, you start figuring yourself out, you start meeting people and they introduce you to new things, outside of your day-to-day. Then, all of a sudden, you’re starting to do things you never thought you would, things you didn't study or go to school for. For me, it’s always about being a student and learning from those more experienced than I am. I think one thing I always try to do, too, is partner with great companies that are already doing great things. I can come in and offer things that I’m good at, while also playing to their strengths as well.
He sees style as "the best form of expression."
I don't really have a list of designers I would want to work with. For me, it's really been so cool to be even in the same room as certain designers. It's been cool to even think about designing myself. I feel like the best form of expression of who you are is what you wear. Most people you come across are only getting to look at you from afar, and what you're wearing is really their perception of you. I've always liked that about designers and clothes. You just get to explore expressing yourself.
He's got a few words of advice for fashion-minded rookies.
It’s definitely a different mindset for the players coming in now. They're seeing a different kind of career than we saw. My advice for the new players interested in fashion would be: Focus on basketball first. All those other things are great, but you have to master basketball first. That is the thing that makes people want to be a part of whatever it is you want to do. Be your best self at that. And as you're perfecting the game, try to formulate a plan and team that can help you grow outside of that.
It took me a lot of time before I got to do things outside of basketball. When we came into the league, fashion wasn't part of it—not this type of fashion, at least. Now, you're seeing veterans guys in Paris and New York and all over the world, and these younger guys see how they are getting attention coming into the arena. When we came into the NBA, we didn't really care about what we were wearing.
Working in a creative field makes him "feel alive."
I get to be a different person in these side projects. Basketball is routine, and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years. I’m proud of the work I've done in fashion, and I get to see other people be proud of it, too, when I see someone wearing something I helped design or create. I know where that idea came from, how I felt working on it. It just feels good to see people like your work, too. For me, fashion has been this place where I get to be outside the sport I love. Outside projects are where you get to flex those creative muscles and find things inside you didn't even know you had. That's when you feel alive.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.