NBA players begin securing their fashion legacy with the outfits they wear at the NBA Draft. For most fans, the fashion styles worn by NBA athletes remains out of reach. This year, American Express is giving fans access to Amen and Ausar Thompson’s NBA Draft fashion. The partnership with the identical twins, who are projected to become the first siblings drafted within the first ten picks, is a playbook for experiential marketing.
Ahead of the NBA Draft, the Thompson twins worked with Los Angeles-based fashion designer Waraire Boswell, to design custom suiting. Launched in 2002, the Waraire Boswell brand counts notable NBA athletes as clients, including: LeBron James, Tristan Thompson and the late Kobe Bryant.
The Thompson twins’ NBA Draft suits pay homage to both their brotherhood and individuality. Made of identical silhouettes and double-breasted, each twin’s suit is a different color scheme–Ausar’s in navy and Amen’s in cream.
The color schemes for the suits may be no accident, as the blue and white harkens to the American Express logo. To celebrate the NBA Draft, American Express–an NBA partner–teamed with Boswell to create a limited-edition jacket available only to American Express cardholders. From the moment the NBA Draft tips off and through July 20, American Express cardholders can visit waraireamexnba.com to purchase “The Association Bomber.” Inspired by the Thompson brothers’ Draft Day suiting and brotherhood, the jacket features the word “association” on the back and is available in cream and navy.
Boswell, whose professional journey began working at United Talent Agency and William Morris Endeavor, says that experience helped him create designs athletes love.
“Prior to designing for a lot of players, what I learned from doing this in the agency world is something that we all know, which is that we are all individuals, and everyone has their own approach to fashion,” Boswell said. “So now, when I’m sitting with an athlete or thinking about what I’m going to make, it’s important that I’m talking to them and understanding what they like. Because all of those things–color, cut, silhouette–are important to making them feel their absolute best.”
The partnership highlights how corporate partners can come alongside athletes during marquee events to create unique experiences for their customers. The high fashion and custom suiting loved by NBA athletes remains largely out of reach for most Americans. By partnering with Boswell and aligning the design for customers with the Thompson twins’ Draft Day suiting, American Express creatively provided customers an experience not easily accessible. The partnership creates a playbook for other brands on how to uniquely bring access to tentpole events, like the NBA Draft, to customers. It is not feasible for corporations to directly bring customers in-person to many marquee events. However, brands should consider other ways that they can give customers access to experiencing events. By creating a way that customers can engage with one of the most talked about elements of the NBA Draft–the athletes’ fashion–American Express achieved this.
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