At Home with Nick Young: Gearing up for Swaggy P's Big Summer
At Home with Nick Young: Gearing up for Swaggy P's Big Summer
- Words Lawrence Schlossman
- Date April 24, 2018
Nick Young has a plan for when, not if, the Golden State Warriors win their 3rd NBA Championship in 4 seasons. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the man who famously dubbed himself "Swaggy P." If Young lacks anything, it's surely not confidence. Known as much for his scene-stealing sartorial choices off court as his play on it, Young is leading the crop of professional athletes who understand the importance of personal branding. Ahead of the Warrior's first round playoff matchup with the San Antonia Spurs, we sat down with Young at his home high up in the Oakland hills to talk his ambitious summer roll out, Drake signing to Adidas and just how one of the NBA's most infamous dressers puts together his pre-game outfits. Read our conversation with Nick Young below and then shop some of his favorite pieces currently on Grailed.
Photography by Christopher Fenimore
How are you doing?
I'm good, I'm good.
Are you nervous about the playoffs at all?
No, more excited.
What was your knee jerk reaction, no pun intended, when you heard the news about Kyrie Irving missing the rest of the season?
I feel bad for him. Obviously, they was having a great year. Unfortunately, two of their top players got hurt this year. That sucks to have to go through a whole 82 games just to try to get to the playoffs again.
When it's this time of year and you're like gearing up for obviously the most meaningful part of the season, does someone like you—who loves clothes so much—stop thinking about somewhat trivial stuff like that? Or is that part of your brain always on? Are you still thinking about fits?
Oh, I’m still thinking about fits because you still got to think about what you're going to come in the arena with.
Have you already picked some stuff out for the playoffs?
I'm just going to go through the clothes and see what I'm feeling. It’s got to be something crazy to just set the tone.
You’ve go to aim real high to set things off.
You got to set the tone of the playoffs. You look good, you play good.
How far out in advance are you planning your outfits or is it spur of the moment for you based on mood and feel?
A little bit of both. I do dress how I feel at that moment sometimes. Like, what music I'm listening to at the time. Do I want to kill them or…
It’s a vibe thing.
It's a vibe thing for sure, but I do plan ahead sometimes. I got my own brand, Most Hated, coming so I might want to break that out through the playoffs for everybody to see. It's a big scene.
What about your kicks? Obviously you're a dude who's worn a lot of interesting footwear on court, from Red Octobers back in the Nike days to the new Yeezy Desert Rats, which you wore recently. What was it like playing in those?
They was actually kind of better than the 750’s. My teammates was kinda daring me. They didn't believe I was going to do it.
They clearly didn’t know who they were dealing with._
What was your stat line that night? Do you remember?
I don't remember. I was worried about not getting hurt. And plus, no hate on New York, but it was like, we’re playing against New York.
The stakes were lower on a talent level [laughs], but it’s still MSG. It’s a huge stage. You had to show out. I mean, you’re the sneaker whisperer. On that note, how do you feel about all your peers leaning on stylists that put outfits together for them and go shopping for them? You seem to not have that.
I hate that. I think that messes up the game a little bit. Everybody think they just a 'fashioneer' now just because they got a stylist and they come in and they think that's them putting it together. I hate that. It's like ghostwriting.
[Laughs] But you write your own bars. How do you shop normally? Are you a big online guy?
Oh, it’s all online.
You don't hit up any favorite spots in person?
I do, but it's usually only when I'm back home in LA or New York because that's where all the best shops are. But if I can't go there, I'll go to Grailed. I go on Grailed a lot.
Do you find yourself just browsing aimlessly sometimes? Like, are you always sort of shopping and thinking about what you want to buy?
It’s a constant?
Yeah, I'm just always thinking of new ideas because you have to stunt extra hard now. I just be looking at other designers and what they got coming out and trends. But, for the most part, I just like to dress.
Whose style do you respect? Who do you look to for inspiration?
I just respect creativity. I think the whole A$AP thing is big. I like looking at what people did back in the day too, like Michael Jackson.
You like using historical references to kind of frame new looks?
Yeah, for sure, for sure. Guys like, David Ruffin. Killa Cam, set the tone with pink. Of course, Kanye, but I don't know about family man Kanye right now.
You don't like dad swag ‘Ye? That's my favorite ‘Ye if I’m being honest.
I get it because I'm going through that myself and it's just throwing something on to take the kids out. It’s actually more fun for me to buy stuff for my kids and make sure they look fresh.
Who on the Warriors right now can hold a candle to your swag? To your closet? Certain photos have come out in the past, which caused some of your boys to get roasted.
[Laughs] I’m not really sure.
What about other guys in the league? Everyone obviously talks about Russ and then you have LeBron doing his thing.
Russ is Russ, but somebody that came up after us who I think is pretty dope would be Jordan Clarkson. I think LeBron got the whole team showing they socks. I think they all team LeBron right now. I got to get Clarkson back into being Clarkson.
Let’s talk about your brand that’s coming out.
Yeah, Most Hated.
What’s that process like when it comes to starting a clothing line?
It's actually harder than I thought. I thought it was going to be easier. The entire process, it takes longer. Like, to get clothes done, it takes months and months to get it done right and, by then, something else is already coming out. You just really got to be ahead of the curve. Really planning stuff out and finding the right people to work with.
Now that you've gotten your hands dirty a little bit, you respect fashion as a business more?
Yeah, for sure. I hate when people just be like, "I'm about to make clothes.” Everybody's a designer now. I hate that.
Would you consider yourself a designer?
For sure, but even people on my team now are trying to come out with clothes. It’s like the whole NBA is about to drop a line. Everybody's got their own clothing line.
It’s so important now for players to be more than just players, especially if you want to achieve a certain level of success or stardom. The idea of the personal brand is so important for guys like you. Do you remember when that shift started to happen?
Yeah, that’s so important marketing-wise, image-wise, especially now that the NBA is global. It’s fashion. It’s everything. Look at Ball. He’s got his own brand. Nobody thought about that. That's daring. I respect it.
What do you think about Big Baller Brand’s shoes themselves?
They're getting better. This is just the start. It’s gonna keep going from there.
It kind of reminds me of Starburys a bit, just more expensive.
[Laughs] Those were the original Ball ones. Shout out Starbury.
You’re an Adidas guy. What do you think of the lifestyle stuff Adidas is dropping?
It's dope. Hopefully we get Drake so he can add some OVO's. Shout out to Drake. Come on over to the team.
I’ve heard a lot of rumors about that…
Yeah, I've seen him with the Yeezys on. That’s a big win. Nike’s been killing it, but now we've got Kanye, we’re about to have Drake, you got Gosha, we got Stan Smith, we got Raf.
Is there going to be a Swaggy P signature sneaker?
Swaggy P lifestyles coming out. That's why I came over because Adidas gets it. I wasn't just another player, ya know? They gave me a P.E. shoe. They put it in stores, a basketball shoe. I didn't really want that, but I’ll take what I can get [laughs]. But now we’re talking about doing lifestyle, doing a whole Most Hated collab. Adidas is really just killing all the lifestyle stuff. They got commercials with Playboi Carti and Young Thug, and A$AP Ferg. I was in that commercial. Shout out the Adidas team.
It’s a strong roster right now. You could argue that maybe Adidas is like the Golden State Warriors of this lifestyle shit, right?
For sure. OVO, Yeezy, Swaggy. That's crazy.
I believe Kanye said it best: ’Swaggy P running up the budget.’
That was one of those crazy things, like, okay, obviously you want to win the championship, you want to win these team awards, but hearing Kanye rap your name, that’s not no regular. It's Kanye.
Are you finally ready to tell the world what the 'P' in 'Swaggy P' means?
I mean, I got a book coming out. After I win a championship, it's going to drop the same day as my album. I’ve been going to the studio.
You’re going to capitalize on the moment.
Yeah and my lifestyle shoes too. It's all in one.
Well, let’s say I asked you right now where the 'Swaggy P' nickname comes from, what story do you have for me? It seems to change quite a bit [laughs].
It depends on my mood, for sure. The dreams I be having be crazy. My last one, I just had on a mink and pearls. I was like, 'Dang.' I talked to Elvis one time. He called me ‘Swaggy.’ Like Elvis Presley, the P is in there.
Was fashion important to you as a kid?
Yeah, my mom tells me this story all the time: She dressed me in this crazy outfit when I was in kindergarten and everybody was just laughing at me and I told her she couldn’t take me shopping no more.
You cut her out of the picture early [laughs].
That was the last time you had a stylist.
Yeah and she reminds me about that all the time. I knew I was going to start really dressing since I was a kid. I had some embarrassing moments though. I had the fake Jordans and the whole sole came off. That was a bad look and everybody was laughing. I remember that. I also had some good moments.
What were you wearing in college when you were at USC? What was the fit back then?
That would have been 2004 to 2007. I think I had Air Force Ones with the Gucci on 'em. I was a big Mase fan growing up. That New York swag. I had that whole fit. I thought I was Diddy or Mase back in the day. I was pretty dope.
When you turned pro and you were making NBA money, what was the first big piece you copped for yourself? Your first splurge?
Even in college I used to save up and buy some jeans that cost like $1000. I didn't have no money, but I just wanted them, spending my entire allowance. I remember the first time I bought some nice glasses. I wasn't in on accessories and stuff, but I bought some glasses for like $1200 and [Gilbert Arenas] broke them the same day. It was rookie hazing.
This was when you got drafted by the Wizards, right?
Yeah. I was so mad. I was so hot. Gil just wiped his balls on ‘em and snapped ‘em in half [laughs].
We go back and forth. He would do something like that, but then pay me back.
That’s still a dickhead move.
Aw, yeah, he's crazy.
You’ve played ball over the country. What city has the best style? Are you going to be a hometown dude and say LA?
Yeah, I'm going to have to go with LA. New York too. They’re both so different. LA is more laid back. We got sun, we got the beach, we got women that can show cleavage and all that.
Versus New York where it's more bundled up…
Black coats and no cleavage [laughs]. But anything is better than, like, Cleveland and Oklahoma and places like that. That's sad. Indiana is in there, too. But those are still big games so you got to show out when you wear something to the stadium. Other than that, you’re just staying inside.
In the league, are guys roasting each other's fits? Is it friendly competition or is it cutthroat?
It's friendly, but I don't think we talk about each other's fits because people get sensitive nowadays. My friends do that, though. I do hate when people just wear Supreme. Everybody's wearing it now. You can love Supreme, but once they did the NBA collab every player is going to wear it. I don’t want it to die or feel ruined. Like Zaza [Pachulia] can’t be out here wearing Supreme [laughs].
What other brands do you think are kind of played out now?
I don't know. Somebody might want to give me a deal…
Okay, on the flip side, what designers are you actually really feeling right now?
Most Hated [laughs]. I would say Virgil. Just the fact that he went to LV. It’s going to be dope. I think the Nike x Off-White collab pimped him out. Him going to Louis Vuitton, that's big. Needles is pretty dope. Another brand that’s cool, but I don't know why it's that expensive, is Mastermind.
Do you buy any normal, everyday guy stuff?
Target white tees. Target socks are the best.
Has there ever been a shoe that you wanted badly, but didn’t fit? Do you just get the biggest size possible and suffer through it?
All the time. That's why I got corns [laughs].
So it's about to be a big summer for you?
Yeah, I might go on tour. We’re negotiating some stuff now. When you win the price goes up.