In 2003, then-rookie Dwyane Wade was a fifth overall draft pick for the NBA, to play for the Miami Heat. He may have made a name for himself on the court his first season — he led his team to the playoffs and launched what would become an illustrious basketball career — but his personal style was hardly, well, stylish.
In the fashion world, meanwhile, DSquared2’s Dean and Dan Caten were named the best breakthrough design team at the GQ Men of the Year Awards. The early aughts served as the twins’ heyday, as they staged elaborate fashion shows and dressed everyone from Madonna to Nicolas Cage.
Despite their differing style trajectories, the threesome has ended up in the same spot. Together, they’ve launched a nine-piece capsule collection, DSquared2 x Dwyane Wade for Saks Fifth Avenue. The limited-edition line ranges in price from $440 for a black-and-white cotton T-shirt with Wade’s number on the front and last name on the back (already sold out in some sizes) to $2,590 for a leather jacket like that Wade sported at the collection’s launch at the Saks flagship location in New York City.
“All of our names start with a D, so one day I just threw it out there, ‘You guys should make me like a third brother,'” Wade tells Yahoo Style. “‘It’d be cool to have a collection called DCubed. We laughed it off and moved on, but over the course of time it became, like, ‘Well, let’s try it.'”
The collection is a right-place, right-time venture for all involved. While the Caten brothers and Wade have known each other for years (Wade has attended their fashion shows and hosted them at his home in Miami), they hadn’t before collaborated on a fashion project. In 2014, the twins dressed Wade for his lavish wedding to actress Gabrielle Union.
Their collaboration stands out, says Dean Caten: “It’s fun and different. We weren’t able to use jerseys and sweatshirts because [Wade] has ties with another thing, so we were gearing toward a more fashion thing. It became a different piece than a jersey.”
Highly elevated sportswear, if you will.
While celebrities have long flocked to DSquared2, Dean and Dan have worked ever more frequently with sports teams and athletes. For the 2016 Rio Olympics, DSquared2 designed Team Canada’s Opening Ceremony looks; before that, they designed pre-match suits for the Manchester City soccer team and FC Barcelona; the duo even designed a gym and spa in Milan.
And like DSquared2, Saks has cashed in on the streetwear-fashion craze that has attracted young male shoppers (Eric Jennings, senior vice president and fashion director for Saks, said Virgil Abloh’s Off White brand, requisite for street-style mavens, is among the store’s biggest-selling lines). In 2016, Saks launched its first athlete-branded collection, with New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. Jennings said the capsule collection has been hugely successful, and it has been renewed at Saks stores for another year.
“I think there’s something about athletes that the average guy can relate to,” said Jennings. “It demystifies fashion to the average guy. [Athletes] have swagger, they’ve got style, and they’ve got a high level of success. So, what guy wouldn’t want to look up to that kind of man?”
But perhaps the most dynamic run-up to the DSquared2 x Dwyane Wade capsule collection comes from Wade himself. In 2005, then-NBA commissioner David Stern enforced a now-infamous dress code, sometimes called the “AI rule” after Allen Iverson, requiring players to dress in business-casual attire when representing teams in public. Unbeknownst to Wade at the time, the rule set the tone for how the budding young player would approach style over the next decade and a half and ultimately lead him down a path in fashion itself.
“You’d see older guys wearing suits, but it wasn’t a thing. Once it became a thing, then it became competitive,” Wade said. “It was like this runway, when everyone walked into the arena they were showing off their outfits, and it’s like, ‘I see what you’ve got on, I need to get on that list.’ It put eyes on the NBA, on the athletes, and we started becoming respected and looked at in the fashion world.”
Today, Wade opts for Dior suits and Yves Saint Laurent sneakers; he cites Justin Timberlake and David Beckham as style luminaries; and he has eponymous clothing collaborations with Stance (socks), Tie Bar (neckties), and Naked (underwear). For all that, what does Wade make of his foray into fashion?
“I’m out of that competitive stage — I’m kind of in my own lane.”
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.