It’s draft night and G League Ignite prospect MarJon Beauchamp is suiting up for the most important night of his life. His stylist, Toni Lowe, buttons up his all-black custom Dolce & Gabbana outfit that the duo has tirelessly worked on for the past 3 weeks.
“I wanted to go all-black for the look,” Beauchamp said. “My whole family is wearing all-black.”
After adjusting Beauchamp’s collar, Lowe tells him to style the suit with one white and one black sneaker. “If you want to do something different, I would do it,” Lowe said. “That completely changes the game for you.”
Flash forward to the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center and an emotional Beauchamp hears his name called in the first round after being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks. His dream is suddenly realized.
“I’ve been working for this my whole life,” Beauchamp said. “All the ups and downs. All the adversity I’ve had to face. I’m prepared for this moment. I’ve dreamed of this, and now I’m here.”
Teary-eyed, he makes his way on stage to shake Commissioner Adam Silver’s hand — a moment he will remember for the rest of his life. His photo is taken, and he and his draft suit are enshrined in NBA history.
Draft night has become one of the most notable fashion events of the year. From LeBron James’ baggy white suit to Jalen Green’s bell bottom pants, draft day fits make sure to turn heads. It’s also the draftees’ first real chance to make an impression as they enter the league.
“[Draft night] is one night you don’t ever get again,” Lowe emphasized. “It’s very important, and you have to look your best.”
“People have put a lot of emphasis on the draft night suit, because you’re going to be seeing these pictures for the rest of your life,” said Ochai Agbaji, who was drafted 14th overall to the Cavaliers. “I wanted gold, but just the right amount of gold. Black and gold are championship colors to me, and that’s what I am. A winner.”
Given draft prospects recognize the importance of looking good on draft night, many now work with designers and stylists — like Lowe — on creating the outfits for their big night. Along with Beauchamp, Lowe worked with No. 1 draft pick Paolo Banchero on his purple suit this year and was also behind Jalen Green’s infamous sparkly suit last year.
Agbaji worked closely with Alba Legacy designer Julian Abdul on developing his black and gold custom suit, and designer Jackie J. Reyes was behind Jaden Hardy’s all-white look covered in jewels.
“Jaden wanted a jacket that stood out, and I made sure to help his vision come to life,” Reyes said. “A team in L.A. started the suit, and a team in N.Y. completed it by adding the jewels. I had a lot of conversations with Jaden during the process to make sure he liked the direction I was going in.”
One of the veterans in the draft suit world is Jhoanna Alba, who started Alba Legacy, a team of designers and tailors who are behind many of the custom looks you see on draft night. She has been working the NBA Draft for the past 23 years.
“I’ve been doing it for so long now. They’re so excited every time, and I always tell everybody — take it all in and take a deep breath,” Alba said. “Any time you feel any type of anxiety, just count your blessings.”
Alba owns a production house in Downtown Los Angeles where she develops the suits and works in partnership with the top agencies in the country in order to get connected with prospects before draft night.
She broke down the design behind Shaedon Sharpe’s suit this year, who was drafted 7th overall by the Trail Blazers:
“I worked in collaboration with Shaedon’s sister, Amari, who actually designed the suit, and we just executed it,” Alba said. “Shaedon’s mom also designed the logo of his jacket that we stamped on his suit. If you zoom into his coat, it has two S’s for Shaedon Sharpe — they kind of look like lightning bolts. Inside, he did a red interior to match his red-bottom shoes, and then he highlighted 519, because he’s from Canada.”
Alba mentioned that one of her favorite parts of working with the draftees before draft night is that many have never worn a suit before — including Dyson Daniels, who was drafted 8th overall by the Pelicans.
“Dyson didn’t know any big brand names heading into the draft. We got him some Christian Louboutin shoes. He said, ‘What are these?’ And we’re like, ‘red-bottoms,'” Alba laughs. “Being a part of this process is just so fun for us.”
But what is the most important aspect of the draft night suit? The draftees and designers agree — it’s all in the details.
Banchero wanted a purple suit to recognize his parents — who met in college.
“My parents both went to University of Washington, and I didn’t,” Banchero said. “When I didn’t go, they got a little bit of heat for it. This is me paying my respects to them with Husky purple.”
No. 3 draft pick Jabari Smith Jr. made sure to shout out his basketball family from Auburn University in the jacket interior.
“I went through a lot up there. I feel like Auburn made me into a different type of player,” Smith Jr. said. “I found myself there. I wanted to pay tribute to the coaching staff and everybody down there who supported me in my suit.”
But it was No. 6 draft pick Bennedict Mathurin’s outfit that had the most personal touch — a tribute to his late brother Dominique, who passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2014. Inside Mathurin’s suit jacket was a picture of him and his siblings as kids, and he also wore a chain that said his brother’s name on it.
“It was my brother’s dream to play in the NBA,” Mathurin said. “I just make sure he is always with me everywhere I go.”
Draft night is over, but most of the draftees agree that they plan to continue this level of style now that they are in the league.
“For sure I plan to continue dressing once I’m in the league,” Banchero said. “I’m just dressed how I want to dress. Going into the draft, I wanted to be a little different, and be myself, so this is what I came up with.”
Smith Jr. said this is not the last time you’ll see him in a suit.
“I am going to have to throw some suits on once I’m in the league every now and then,” Smith Jr. laughed. “Just wait and see.”
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