untung99.biz: Dwyane Wade on Gabrielle Union the Met Gala and His New Versace Campaign

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Dwyane Wade’s been waiting for this. The former Miami Heat star wasn’t just one of the best players in the NBA; he was also a major part of the league’s style renaissance after the dress code shifted in 2005 and the tunnel walk transformed from a humdrum pregame activity to a de facto fashion show. He was regularly rocking the kinds of tailored looks that pushed the whole league into its position as the most fashion-forward in American sports. And since his retirement in 2019—but especially over the last year or so—he’s been on a fashion tear. You can catch him and his wife Gabrielle Union at major label shows and A-list events around the globe, both dressed to the nines and both looking like they’re having a genuinely fantastic time serving up fits and hanging out.

One highlight of his recent hot streak? The Meta Gala in 2022, where he showed up shirtless in a white suit that made him feel like he was “the flyest person in the world at that moment,” he says over the phone, nearly a year later. “The way it hit, the way it lay, it was just so beautiful to me.” The suit was by Versace, but it wasn’t the only one the legendary Italian fashion house graced him with. “Donatella, she made another suit for me that looks just like the white suit I wore at the Met Gala, but it was an all-leather, double-breasted version,” he says. “It was just, for me…It was like, ‘Damn, this is what I love. This is what I want to be a part of.’”

Luckily for Wade, Versace wanted him to be a part of it, too: The team tapped him to star in the new campaign, shot by Mario Testino, for Versace Eyewear. “When the opportunity came to further our relationship last year and to be a part of this Versace Eyewear campaign, I was like, ‘Oh, wait, low-key, this is something I’ve always wanted to do,’” he says. “I travel the world, I see all those good-looking David Beckhams and all those guys all on these billboards, always with eyeglasses or with watches or all these things. So, it was a big opportunity to be a part of a huge campaign.”

Union and Wade at the 2022 Met Gala.

Sean Zanni//Getty Images

Read on for more of Wade’s thoughts on the suit that led to the campaign, the legacy of NBA style, the future of men’s fashion (for him and everyone else), and, of course, competing with his wife for “best dressed” bragging rights.

On stepping up his involvement in fashion

My stylist, Jason Bolden, he rejuvenated me in this space. I think as an athlete, you get put in a certain fashion space where a lot of brands… It’s not that they don’t want to dress you, but they don’t feel they can, or don’t have access to. And he’s allowed [me] access to these brands to see that, you know what, D can rock this, D can wear this, even though he’s 6’4″ and he’s longer than your average model or person. He’s brought back the energy in the fashion space. And I think 2022, man, we really stepped it up. So, to have this campaign come out of that year, that just shows us that what we set out to do is beginning to happen.

Wade in the new Versace Eyewear campaign.

Mario Sorrenti

On the pronunciation of “Versace”

I actually learned that it’s not Ver-sa-CHEE, it’s Ver-sa-CHAY. I learned that at the photo shoot. I was doing a video, and I was like, “Ver-sa-CHEE, ” and they said, “No, it’s Ver-sa-CHAY.” I was like, “Oh, we’ve been saying Ver-sa-CHEE.”

On competing with his wife

Our stylists, Thomas Christos Kikis and Jason Bolden, they’re very, very good friends. So, we have a little competitiveness amongst ourselves, right? And we also have a great togetherness amongst ourselves. When we hit the carpet together, we have these moments. You know, you’re sharing that. And that’s not something we shared in the past, because of our careers being different. Now we’re both in what we call entertainment, right? And now we get to share in it even more. My fittings are more fun now, because she’s in the other room. I’m in one room, we’re both blasting our music, we walk in to see what each other are wearing.

On the joy of getting dressed

I like to look good in clothes. I’ve grown up with men, like my dad, who can dress. And I’ve always wanted to be one of those well-groomed men who can show you that, yeah, I can wear a sweatsuit, I can wear a jersey, but also can put clothes on and I can wear them.

I get so much joy out of getting dressed. Even putting on a sweatsuit; I’m not just talking about a Met Gala. I just get so much joy in it, because I know a lot of people want an opportunity to speak with me and talk with me. Maybe I’ll take pictures with people, whatever the case may be. But when people see me, they compliment me all the time on the way I dress. That stuff matters to me because women don’t just want compliments. Men want compliments as well, on how they smell or how they look, you know?

On NBA style, and his own legacy

I’m not like Russell Westbrook who dresses himself and goes shopping. I’m not a good shopper. I’m not going to lie. I’m terrible when it comes to shopping. Nothing looks good in the stores to me, but then they send it to my house and I’m like, “Oh, I love this.”

You got to know your strengths, you got to know your weaknesses. So, when the NBA changed the rules, I hired a stylist, Calyann Barnett, who I worked with throughout my entire basketball career. It was great for us because I think we were a part of the wave that brought attention to the NBA and to fashion again. Not the first ones, because it’s been done before, but we kind of brought it back, and we were a part of that wave and a leader in that space. For me, being fashionable or having style, I just think it represents who you are. I learn so much from people just looking at the way they put on clothes.

On the future of fashion

There’s a lot of unisex, right? And men are okay with that now. Now you see guys really taking a lot of fashion…people call it “risks.” I don’t. I mean, taking more “fashion opportunities,” right? The opportunity to open up. So it’s really cool, not just from a color standpoint and what people are comfortable with, but even what materials people put on their bodies, the cuts of clothes that men get to wear. I’m a big fan of, “Let’s do more men’s grooming, let’s do more men’s fashion.” It’s okay to take care of yourself in that way.

We need it. Especially us men. You go into stores, you got one rack, you know? And I understand it. There are men out here that don’t want to think, just want to throw on whatever, keep it real cool, like a game day vibe. That’s how they roll. But as the world is evolving and changing, you have the ones out here that want to evolve and change with it. At 41 years old to still be in that conversation, to still be a part of it… I hope I am for a long time. I hope I continue to grow in fashion and grow with these brands and see things come back and see new things evolve. I think I’m one of the guys who is willing to try it all and pull it off, and take chances, in a sense, for the next generation. I think I’ve done that for the NBA, and I want to do it for fashion. I want to do it for the well-groomed man, the businessman, and all those things. So, we’ve got work to do, but I’m excited by where we are.

Jonathan Evans is the style director of Esquire, covering all things fashion, grooming, accessories, and, of course, sneakers. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. You can follow him at @MrJonathanEvans on Twitter and Instagram.