NBA veteran Brandon Jennings’ roots with Under Armour run deep.
The famed hooper, whose career in the league spanned nine seasons, was the first basketball athlete to sign with the brand. During his time with UA, Jennings laced up two signature shoes on court: Black Ice, which debuted in 2010, and Bloodline that arrived a year later.
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Although he is no longer in the NBA, Jennings is back working with Under Armour — more specifically, Curry Brand, the namesake label of Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry backed by the Baltimore-based company.
To bring this tie-up to life, Jennings, and his streetwear clothing brand Tuff Crowd, teamed up with Curry Brand on the new collection. The highlight of the 20-piece range are its four footwear selections, which includes performance and lifestyle looks.
His love of fashion and keen eye for style dates back to 2008, when he opted to forego college hoops and play pro basketball in Italy before hitting an NBA court.
“Living in Rome, I was around all the fashion — Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Valentino. Everything was out there,” Jennings told FN. “I was playing in Milan, one of the fashion capitals. I was seeing fashion early at 19 [years old]. I started dressing different, wearing Gucci trench coats and stuff at 19. It’s like, ‘Man, where am I going? It’s like 80 degrees,’ but the feel of wanting to look look clean was pretty crazy.”
His love of fashion took a professional turn in 2011 when Jennings interned at Under Armour during the NBA lockout. He worked from the brand’s Baltimore headquarters as the “Curator of Cool,” and learned the footwear design process, as well as marketing planning, material selections and more.
Seven years later, Jennings would reveal Tuff Crowd. Selections from his style-driven imprint have been worn by fellow professional athletes — including Curry — and the brand was included in the NBA 2K video game as a featured shoppable brand. Also, Tuff Crowd has delivered compelling collaborations, including an apparel collection with the Milwaukee Bucks in April, the team he once played for.
Full Circle Moment
Having already worked with the NBA team he once suited up for, his Tuff Crowd collaboration with Curry Brand offered another full circle moment for Jennings.
“I remember being an intern at Under Armour, working on my ‘Bloodline’ [shoe] and my collection, and then going off and starting my own brand. And seeing Steph take over Under Armour and create Curry Brand. It’s been great to see our transitions from basketball into fashion and owning our own brands,” Jennings said.
For its debut effort with Curry Brand, Tuff Crowd employed its signature dark mood and edge to several performance and lifestyle pieces, reimagining them with a black, bone and red color palette. The range also uses 11:11 as inspiration, which is a nod to both Jennings’ neck tattoo and the idea of staying in alignment and balanced with pure intentions.
“The meaning behind the 11:11 is staying aligned, staying true to what you do. And Curry with his spiritual beliefs, we’re just both in line,” Jennings explained. “This is about coming together and the pure energy you try to bring to everything.”
There are four footwear looks in the collection. It includes two court-ready shoes, the Curry 11 and the Spawn FloTro, as well as the Curry Flo Cozy lifestyle sneaker and the Alpha 2.0 Slide. With this collection, Under Armour’s acclaimed Flo technology is executed in black for the first time, which appears on the Curry 11 and the Curry Flo Cozy.
Rounding out the collection is a range of apparel, a tote bag, hats, beanies and socks.
Although Jennings is no longer playing in the NBA, he is confident players will lace up his court-ready looks on the hardwood. Jennings revealed he sent a package to Utah Jazz point guard Jordan Clarkson, and said he would like to see it worn by De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings, who was announced last month as Curry Brand’s first signature athlete.
The Curry 11 from the collection, however, has already been worn on the court by the Golden State star himself.
“I was pacing back and forth. I was like just have a great game, finish the game strong,” Jennings said of seeing Curry wear the Tuff Crowd collaboration on court. “It was just so surreal, man. Like, my brand is on the court with the greatest shooter who ever played, the GOAT. The greatest point guard to ever play this game is wearing my brand on an NBA court. It was so unreal. It just meant that everything I’ve been through with this brand has all been worth it.”
Bigger Than Fashion
Aside from the collection release, Tuff Crowd and Curry Brand will also refurbish the indoor basketball court gym at Rowley Park, which is located in Gardena, Calif. This refurbishing is part of Curry Brand’s “Change The Game For Good” efforts, and marks its 11th court donated to communities globally. This Rowley Park court is of particular importance to Jennings, who played there as a kid in local youth leagues.
“Gardena is proud that one of our very own, Brandon Jennings, has committed himself to the city where he grew up,” said Nikki Sweeney, City of Gardena administrator of recreation and human services. “His actions have a meaningful impact on the city, specifically on our youth, by teaching that it is essential to pay it forward and give back to the community. His legacy will live on through the youth he has inspired, and his impact will be felt through Gardena’s generations to come.”
The hooper has also stayed connected with Rowley Park in the years since. For instance, Jennings and Under Armour donated a new outdoor court at the park in 2011 during NBA All-Star Weekend. For this effort, Jennings was named the NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner for the month of February 2011.
“That’s where it all began for me. That’s where I first picked up a basketball, that’s when I first fell in love with the game,” Jennings said. “There’s nothing like giving back to the community. That what makes this whole collection so special, the fact that we’re also building for the future and for the kids.”
What’s more, there will be a Tuff Crowd x Curry Brand collection launch event at Rowley Park, which is located at 13220 Van Ness Ave., on Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. PT.
The Tuff Crowd x Curry Brand collection will launch at the event, and there will be an additional online release via Tuffcrowd.com on Nov. 15. Also, the Spawn FloTro and other items will hit UA.com on Nov. 24. The collection ranges in price from $40-$170.
Looking ahead, Jennings said there are plans in the works to team up with Under Armour again, although the details were sparse. Specifically, he said fans can expect to see something around Elite 24, which is Under Armour’s annual high school basketball showcase, and stated he hopefully could work on more projects with Curry Brand.
“It’s been great, man, working back with Under Armour, getting back with some of the OGs like Ryan Drew, Kris Stone, Nick DePaula, working with the whole Curry team,” Jennings said. “It has been a full circle moment and it’s going to be the beginning of new new things for the future of both brands.”
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