By now, you’ve likely heard the NBA pregame tunnel be compared to a fashion runway. Sure, it’s become a bit of a cliché when it comes to discussing the relationship between basketball and fashion and it’s probably hard to find many similarities between the Oratoire du Louvre and the inner workings of Capital One Arena, but the point is hard to argue when you see some of the eye-catching looks being shown off across an 82-game season. And one of the NBA pregame tunnel’s most talked-about models is Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma.
Since starting his career in 2017, Kuzma has gained a reputation for his wardrobe that has featured bold choices like cotton candy blue blazers with no undershirt to cargo pants with pockets that extend down to his ankles. Perhaps the most memorable outfit came last season when he arrived for a November home game wearing a pink Raf Simons knit sweater that looked comically oversized even on his 6’9” frame. Social media did what social media does. The memes ensued and Kuzma’s bubblegum pink threads immediately went viral. He still sees people talk about it almost a year later. He says he’s going to hang the sweater on his wall soon, the same way you may see other athletes hang up their own jerseys, a fitting choice since he categorizes it as more than just another piece of clothing.
“It’s an art piece. I’m never wearing that again. It’s not really a thing that you’re going to wear out,” Kuzma tells Complex. “It’s definitely something that’s going to live on forever.”
Fast forward to this week and Kuzma wasn’t just making heads turn with his outfits in the back hallways of NBA arenas. He was strutting down a real runway. On Tuesday night, he walked in Puma’s “Futrograde” presentation that took place at Cipriani’s Great Hall during New York Fashion Week, the first runway presentation for the brand under creative director June Ambrose. His look was one of the most memorable from the show—a black hoodie layered with a sequined black basketball jersey up top and a floor-length black skirt made of puffer jackets with its flailing arms resembling an octopus for the bottom half. Following the show, he took to Instagram to show love to Ambrose for the “iconic moment.”
“I believe that Puma is the ultimate lifestyle brand,” says Kuzma. “Being fashion-forward is something that we take pride in. I’m just very, very grateful to be a part of it.”
Ahead of Tuesday night’s presentation, we were able to speak with Kuzma about his ongoing partnership with Puma, his infamous pink sweater, some of his favorite NBA throwback jerseys of all time, and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.