Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
It was just another mid-August weekend, when most New Yorkers seek refuge in the Hamptons, Fire Island or upstate along the Hudson, where the sea, sun and cool breeze surely beat the persistent humidity. Yet for the city’s basketball fans, Manhattan was the place to be these past few days.
That’s because the Global Community Cup visited New York. A bit like the World Cup of basketball, GCC held games at Madison Square Garden--the USA team played France and China played Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden.
Next the GCC will head to Madrid, where the USA will take on Spain.
But what’s this got to do with fashion?
No other sport today is so interconnected to fashion as basketball. From the street level, where new styles are born, to fashion’s adoption of the hi-top as a replacement for dress shoes, it’s undeniable.
In conjunction with these games, Nike, Brand Jordan, and Converse organized a series of events. Aptly titled the World Basketball Festival, it all started on Thursday with a USA exhibition game and a performance by Jay Z at Radio City Music Hall.
The festival included scrimmages, youth tournaments among local leagues, and workshops. Kobe Bryant coached kids at Harlem’s Ruckus Park, and Nike launched some new shoes: Nike Zoom Hyperfuse, the Hyperdunk 2010, and the Air Force 1 Foamposite.
To highlight its accomplishments in bringing basketball to a global audience, Nike built a small space called the Ball Room--at Frederick Douglass Blvd and 134th Street--outlining the history of basketball since the early 20th century.
On display is the first Converse all-star shoe--created in 1917--and the Nike Blazer, launched in 1974. Those are followed by other sneakers that have edged themselves into popular--and fashionable--culture: The Air Force 1 in 1983, the Air Jordan 1 in 1985, the Air Jordan XI in 1995, and the Foamposite in 1997. (The Ball Room remains open to the public until mid September.)
Nike also devotes an entire section to the evolution of shoe technology. Take, for example, the new Hyperfuse. Made specifically for players in China who practice in the rugged outdoors, the Hyperfuse combines a breathable outer layer of mesh nylon with a durable skin to create an extremely lightweight shoe--a size 9 weighs just 12.5 ounces.
This constant drive for technical innovation is akin to the some of the most forward fashion designers working today. Consider Alber Elbaz. One can say that each Lanvin dress or jacket is a process of accumulation--pattern cutting, exterior and interior constructions, fabric selection, and fittings. After examining the different components that make up the Hyperfuse--mesh exterior layer, exterior upper body, outer and inner soles--I realized that a similar level of design and craftsmanship is involved.
I would venture to say that these four days seemed more like a mini “fashion show weekend” than a sporting event. Surely it’s hard not to appreciate the diverse street style on display by attendees at Ruckus Park--even the young teenagers’ sense of fashion and style were on point.