Up Next

Style

Draymond Green’s designer and stylist confirm he wasn’t trolling LeBron James with his shorts suit

The Warriors star really did beat LeBron to the style

LeBron James vs. Draymond Green: the battle of the shorts suit. For Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, James arrived at Oracle Arena rocking a gray version of the look from New York designer Thom Browne. By Game 2, three days later, James went at the look again — only this time he was joined by Green, who donned a custom-made teal ensemble from a Los Angeles designer named Fresh. The outfit had been on Green’s mind, and in his closet, long before the fourth straight heavyweight title matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers delivered an entertaining undercard of off-the-court style.

Contrary to popular belief, Green’s wardrobe decision was not rooted in pettiness or a moment of swagger-jacking. “I started that trend a long time ago. Go check the pictures,” he said before Game 2. And he wasn’t lying. The versatile Warriors forward has a storied history, and deep connection, to the shorts suit.

“With him and LeBron, absolutely Draymond is the originator,” said Fresh. Four years ago, he founded his own brand RICHFRESH after quitting his job at the Beverly Hills retail location of Ermenegildo Zegna. “Who came up with the plane first? Fred Weick or the Wright Brothers? I don’t know. Fred Weick got a lot of attention, but the Wright Brothers did it first. Was there a day, before LeBron, that Draymond wore the shorts suit? Yes. That’s an easy myth to debunk.”

“It won’t be the last time you’ll see him in shorts.”

That day? The first annual NBA Awards show on June 26, 2017, when Green was presented with the league’s Defensive Player of the Year trophy while wearing a seafoam shawl-collared tuxedo jacket, accented by a Tom Ford bow tie, Yves Saint Laurent brooch and velvet Del Toro skull slippers. In the New York City sun, he sported shorts with the classy tuxedo top. It was a custom look that had been in the works for over a year.

“The NBA Awards shorts suit was originally supposed to be for the ESPYs in 2016, but that’s when the Warriors lost the Finals and Draymond didn’t want to go,” said Vick Michel, Green’s L.A.-based personal stylist. He met the 2012 second-round draft pick early in his career but didn’t start working with him until 2016. “So we had it just laying in the arsenal.”

In preparation for this year’s Finals, the shorts suit was at the ready. While searching the internet for inspiration, Michel came across an image of a peacock feather and fell in love with the vibrant hues of green. He sent a screenshot to Fresh. Together they locked in on a specific shade, and the designer began figuring it into one of his creations. The original plan was for Green to wear the shorts suit for Game 1, but final fitting tweaks took longer than anticipated.

“We didn’t get the tailoring right,” said Michel, whose other athlete clients include Deshaun Watson, Denzel Valentine, Giancarlo Stanton, Domantas Sabonis, Jahlil Okafor and Malik Jackson. “I told Fresh, ‘It’s not ready. It’s not gonna be done.’ I don’t like to rush anything, because it’s all about fit with Draymond. He can wear anywhere from a 50 to a 56. Sometimes it’ll be a 54, sometimes it’ll be a 52, sometimes it’ll be a 56. It just depends how certain garments feel on his body. We couldn’t wear it for the first game, so we said we’ll wait for the next opportunity. I’d rather pass the ball 10 times until we get the right shot. I’m not gonna rush just to shoot it.”

For his client’s series-opening outfit, Michel put Green in a Vivienne Westwood blazer with a custom pair of half-black and half-plaid paints, crafted by Fresh. Meanwhile, James turned heads and broke the internet with his Game 1 shorts suit, which even garnered praise from NBA commissioner Adam Silver for being fashion-forward.

“I was caught off guard,” Fresh says of James’ outfit. A designer for 15 years, he’s made pieces for everyone from Belly to DeAndre Jordan, The Weeknd, Joel Embiid, A$AP Rocky, Zendaya and others. “But I didn’t want it to sully or cast a shadow on the moment that I expected Draymond to have.”

After Golden State’s 124-114 win in Game 1, Fresh flew into the Bay Area, where he, Michel and two tailors worked tirelessly to ensure that Green’s swaggy fit would be good to go. And as soon as he hopped out of his vehicle in the arena parking lot, cameras began snapping photos of the finished product: a teal hopsack shorts suit, loosely woven to feel like linen but fall like silk, with tuxedo panels on each side of the jacket and cuts on the thigh area of the bottoms to mimic actual basketball shorts. “It has a beautiful drape,” Fresh said. “I’m sure it felt amazing on him.” Michel paired the fit with a $350 T-shirt from Dolce & Gabbana (one of Green’s favorite brands because the name matches his initials), as well as a $602 brooch from Chanel and a pair of $1,195 Christian Louboutin Aurelien sneakers. Fresh declined to disclose the amount Green paid for the shorts suit, but he valued it at $3,300.

After Golden State’s 122-103 Game 2 win, Green’s outfit was the subject of more than one question at the postgame news conference. He shouted out both Michel and Fresh — and even offered to share the swag of his shorts suit with one of the reporters in the audience. Quite literally. “You can have this one,” Green joked. He must’ve already been thinking about what he’d break out in Cleveland. For Green, Fresh and Michel, a new city with different weather doesn’t shift the focus.

“If it’s Game 1 or Game 6, he has to look fly,” Michel says. “How you play is how you should look. If you wanna play well, you dress well.” Maybe not in the Finals — but can we expect to see the revisited trademark of Green’s style once again?

“I’ll tell you right now,” Michel continued, “it won’t be the last time you’ll see him in shorts.”

Aaron Dodson is an associate editor at The Undefeated. Often mistaken for Aaron Dobson, formerly of the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, he was one letter away from being an NFL wide receiver.