The Brooklyn Nets have never settled for the typical or common approach. That extends to their merchandise and style, which expanded to a new frontier this year with the BROOKLYN COOL collection, formed in partnership with retail partner Rank + Rally.
“Street style and basketball go hand-in-hand in Brooklyn. The collection of BROOKLYN COOL designers embodies the fashion-forward spirit of the borough,” said Alison Weber, Chief Creative Officer of Curiology, the experience design group that collaborated with Rank + Rally on designing the collection. “They were selected because of their design talent, entrepreneurial spirit, and the drive to be a part of something bigger than their own brand.”
The collaboration brings five top local designers together with the Nets for a distinctive collection: Antler & Woods, Extra Butter, IGWT, Kinfolk and PINTRILL.
“I think basketball players, we’re taking a strong approach in our fashion,” said Nets forward DeMarre Carroll. “When you think of athletes and fashion, you think of basketball players. So I feel like the NBA has taken that approach in fashion and it’s cool.”
Carroll and teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got an early look at the designs during a photo shoot at HSS Training Center.
“I liked the look,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “How they were trying to be so Brooklyn. It’s in the name, BROOKLYN COOL. It was unique. They weren’t trying to go over the top, but they wanted to represent the city. People in Brooklyn are very prideful, so they would love it.”
“I think this is where sports gear has to go,” said Michael Dinzebach of Antler & Woods. “For me, I’m a big collector of vintage jackets and jerseys and things like that. It’s hard for me to find something I like that’s being manufactured now. I think the Nets are kind of ahead of their time, thinking of collaborating with brands. It adds a little bit of flavor and dimension.”
Dinzebach and partner Caitlin Quinn are the co-founders and co-designers of Antler & Woods. They came up with the company’s name before they had a concept, inspired by an upstate walk through the woods with their dogs.
“She had a background in textiles and I had a background in music production,” said Dinzebach. “We just started having pop-up shops in our apartment and it grew from there.”
They started out silk-screening on their own before expanding to cut-and-sew and custom orders. A year in, they opened up their Atlantic Avenue shop. They describe their style as a collision between country roads and street culture.
“I feel like our product is streetwear at its core,” said Quinn. “I’m from Brooklyn, Michael’s been in Brooklyn a long time. We are city kids who miss nature. We try to incorporate the outdoors, a little bit of nature, into styles that are inherently New York City and streetwear based.”
After working on a custom line with boxer Danny Jacobs for the BROOKLYN BOXING merchandise line, Antler & Woods was tapped to be part of BROOKLYN COOL. Working with classic styles – crewneck, rugby shirt, hoodie – they wanted to create a lasting piece, something that would resonate a decade down the line.
“We loved this challenge of black and white and gray, said Quinn. “It’s such a basic color palette and so New York. To be able to push the boundaries on that and include patterns and be inspired by the shapes of New York City.”
Jordan Roschwalb founded PINTRILL in 2014 while in between jobs and searching for a creative outlet.
“Pins really hadn’t had a moment,” he said. “I thought it was something I could push forward and was a good outlet to be creative.”
He had a history with the medium. Roschwalb has been collecting pins since he was about 10 years old, starting with Harley Davidson pins picked up on trips to the motorcycle shop with his father. Pins from those types of major lifestyle brands struck him as “inherently Americana,” and he’s built up a personal collection of over 3,000 pins.
PINTRILL started out with familiar elements like sayings, emojis and internet memes that had entered the pop culture lexicon. They’ve produced more than 1,000 designs as the company expanded to high-profile collaborations with major brands, the latest being the Nets. After retailing through the Internet for two years, in 2016 Roschwalb and partners opened up a boutique in Williamsburg.
“It really is a life-changer, because it gives people the chance to experience pins in real life as opposed to just on the website,” said Roschwalb. “They’re very visual. People want to see them in person and touch them and view them.”
For Shana Tabor of In God We Trust, the collaboration with the Nets was a surprising offer that she embraced in producing a nameplate necklace and a money clip.
“I was flattered. I’m always flattered when people are interested in working together,” said Tabor. “I don’t necessarily consider myself a sports fan. I can’t say that I had an apprehension towards it, because I like the idea of not necessarily expanding, but challenging yourself … but I did wildly appreciate the fact that they weren’t going toward their specific genre. They were looking for something out of the norm.”
Tabor founded her store and studio in Williamsburg in 2005 and has an additional location in Greenpoint. Doing all of her manufacturing in-house or locally in Brooklyn has been a point of pride. While she’s expanded to women’s clothing and accessories as well, her entry point was classic jewelry items with a twist.
“I have a pretty irreverent, dark-witted sense of humor, especially with jewelry,” said Tabor. “It has a prevalence with design. I think just an attitude to take things for what it is and not take things so serious. A lot of times finding that juxtaposition between, this is a nice piece of jewelry made out of nice materials, but might have a twist that’s tongue-in-cheek and might be more untraditional.”
Formed in 2008, Kinfolk calls Williamsburg home, bringing together the highest quality designers, builders and techniques to develop lasting products and unique experiences. For BROOKLYN COOL, Kinfolk brought its branding to tees and hats.
From its start on Long Island specializing in footwear, Extra Butter has grown into a premier boutique featuring streetwear and men’s contemporary fashion, while remaining a go-to spot for the latest sneakers.
The opening of their Manhattan flagship location on the Lower East Side four years ago fueled their growth on the apparel side.
“The name and the concept comes from our love for cinema,” said head designer Bernie Gross. “From the creative lens of Extra Butter, I like to find parallels in how to captivate an audience with our products the same way directors do with their movies.”
For the collaboration with the Nets on a series of tees and hats, Gross opted to stick with the crisp aesthetic that has defined the brand since the team’s move to Brooklyn.
“It’s clean, it’s contemporary,” he said. “I didn’t want to add much to it. It’s not supposed to be flourished. It’s not supposed to be over the top and gaudy.”
The inclusion in the BROOKLYN COOL line follows a footwear collaboration Extra Butter did with the Islanders two years ago that introduced them to the Nets’ merchandising group through a pop-up store at Barclays Center.
“It’s an honor when any big franchise, especially considering the industry we’re in, for a sports team to identify us as being one of the influencers for their local audience,” said Gross. “I think it speaks volumes of the Nets having their ear to the ground and knowing what’s relevant to the young, adopting audience.”
BROOKLYN COOL styles are available exclusively online at NetsStore.com and in the Swag Shop at Barclays Center.