Lebron James kicked off the 2023 NBA season in style with a Louis Vuitton Damoflage jacket, a wool tuxedo cigarette pants, lug-soled black lace-ups, and not one, but two Louis Vuitton bags.
While flashy, King James’ outfit was not particularly a surprise to anyone. For the past few years, Lebron has been rocking stylish fits everywhere but inside the court — where sometimes it feels only regulations hold him back from showing up in some extravagant uniform.
But Lebron wasn’t always the King of fashion. If you look back to his rookie season in 2003, Lebron had one of the most iconic (not in a good way) draft-day outfits of all time: an all-white suit that, despite his size, was somehow too large for him.
So how did Lebron go from basketball prodigy with an oversized suit, to legend both in the court and in the fashion world?
Lebron James’ Early Career in NBA and Fashion
Lebron came into the NBA swinging. He was Cleveland’s promised messiah, and they just missed out on a playoff spot in his first season. In the fashion world, Lebron’s start wasn’t quite as stellar. While it wasn’t awful, the suits Lebron wore during this era were always one or two sizes too large.
Lebron came into the league at an interesting time for fashion. Back then, some players were showing up to games in baggy shorts, big flashy chains, and other streetwear usually associated with BIPOC communities.
In 2005, the NBA issued new dress codes, which many saw as a ploy to make the league more engaging to white audiences. People accused David Stern of trying to make the NBA more “decent” by eliminating Black culture.
Lebron has always embraced his past. Coming from Akron just outside Cleveland, Lebron grew up in poverty, with no father figure. Despite his rise to fame, Lebron always pays tribute to where he came from.
That’s why while Lebron never broke this new dress code, many speculate that his oversized suits were a tribute to his origins. While others think it was just poor taste.
To Miami and Fame
Most people attribute Lebron’s change in fashion to his move to Miami in 2010. While the move was controversial in the basketball world, Miami did wonders for Lebron’s style.
Rubbing shoulders with fashionable teammates like Chris Bosh, Pat Riley, and Dwyane Wade had an immediate effect. Almost overnight Lebron went from sporting oversized suits to suits that seemed tailor-fit to his frame.
This would come right on time, too. Lebron was popular with basketball fans in Cleveland, but his move to Miami brought a whole other level of fame to his life, especially with their championship victory in 2012.
King James’ Legacy
Since 2012, Lebron went on to win three more NBA championships. Style-wise, he moved from tailor-fit suits to some of the most extravagant and head-turning fits in the league.
In a recent press conference, Lebron sported another all-white suit. Asked if this was a tribute to his rookie-season style, James laughed and responded that if he could tell his 18-year-old self something, he’d say, “Pick a smaller size than that suit.”