A global sports and media titan; a league defined by its diversity on and off the court; and now the NBA wants to be a luxury aspirational brand, too?
Seems that way.
First, the NBA announced a partnership with Hennessy, naming the world’s most popular cognac the official spirit of the NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball. It marked Hennessy’s inaugural deal with a North American pro sports league.
Then, Louis Vuitton launched the first menswear capsule of the NBA under the artistic direction of Virgil Abloh, creating a limited clothing and accessories line that united the emblems of the two institutions.
And most recently, the NBA has inked a multiyear alliance with Canada Goose as an outerwear partner of NBA All-Star; an exclusive design collaboration each year for players and fans alike timed to the NBA’s annual All-Star celebration
The debut design partner is RHUDE, a Los Angeles-based brand making noise for its ability to marry streetwear elements with more luxury-laden techniques. And the resulting collection? A four-piece unisex outerwear capsule constructed for the elements and built for year-round use.
The capsule’s two parkas should look familiar. They are Canada Goose’s classics: the Chilliwack Bomber and Macmillan Parka, with each style exclusively finished off with the Canada Goose disc, NBA logo, and RHUDE patch.
More sought after for its versatility and convertible length is the Portage Jacket, a relaxed-fit trench coat. And then there’s collaboration’s pinnacle piece. It’s called the Freestyle Vest, fully up to the rigours of shoulder seasons, transitional temperatures, and maintaining premier protection.
Perhaps the real luxury, though, is the authenticity of this NBA and Canada Goose union’s streetwear ethos. No, seriously. Besides the obvious (streetwear is sort of the thing right now—haven’t you heard?), that authenticity is sort of a luxury itself.
As has been written about and reported to death, the proliferation of streetwear across North American high streets has been pronounced, with many brands enjoying almost cult-like followings. But you can have too much of a good thing. Streetwear itself is a product of credibility. As more and more get involved in it, less and less are able to truly claim that quality. In turn, the standards for authenticity subsequently drop.
But RHUDE founder Rhuigi Villaseñor undoubtedly brings what some might deem the most critical element to bonafide streetwear authenticity:
A credible narrative.
It’s useful to know that Villaseñor came to Los Angeles from the Philippines at the age of 11 with no concept of brand culture. And with no formal training specific to fashion design, Villaseñor credits his mother, a tailor, for bequeathing her foundations and understandings to him. Not just in regards to how to build different pieces, but also the subsequent stories told with each collection.
And so RHUDE is a reflection of modern socioeconomics and personal stories. A design venture expressed from a narrative standpoint, combining American iconography with nostalgic references—a visual commentary on Los Angeles style and culture itself.
Of course, the NBA itself merges socioeconomics with culture, bringing people around the world together in the name of sport. Meanwhile, as an innovative lifestyle brand, Canada Goose redefines the category, inspired by relentless innovation and uncompromised craftsmanship.
With multiple partnerships falling under the premium umbrella, the Canada Goose & NBA collection with RHUDE is only the latest in what seems to be the league’s move towards a luxury rebrand. What’s next?