Michael Jordan may have made millions promoting Hanes, but that (admittedly huge) exception aside, underwear hasn’t exactly popped off as a popular NBA player endorsement opportunity. That might be about to change, though. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving recently launched an underwear line (Chandler Parsons and Mike Miller are also partners), and Stance Socks, the official sock provider of the League, is investing into underwear, a process that’ll assuredly include the involvement of a few NBA guys at some point or another. And now OKC star Kevin Durant is hopping in, teaming with Neff to create NEFF WEAR, underwear for those who live an “active lifestyle.” At the NEFF WEAR pre-launch at the Soho Grand Hotel in New York City last Friday, we caught up with KD and Neff founder Shaun Neff to discuss the collection.
SLAM: In the promotional video, you talked about being involved in the design of the underwear. What did that entail?
Kevin Durant: When I first went to the offices, they had a kind of mood board with concepts. And I was like: I like this, I like this, this is the direction I want to go in. And from there everything was really easy and smooth. We really made a good team and liked the same things, and that made for an easy process.
SLAM: You’ve been using random aspects of your life as inspiration for your signature sneakers for years—was doing underwear similar to that?
KD: I always had a loyalty towards a brand, so it was kind of like I was already invested for a long time—emotionally, creatively. So to shift my focus over to a different category, it was different, at first. It took some time for me to really get knee-deep into where I wanted to be. But once you start to see the product and see it moving, and then I started to put [the underwear] on and opened up my underwear drawer and saw my name on my undergarments—it as like, alright, now it’s time to get down to business. It’s cool to have something of your own, and to make something so cool like this with such a creative mind like him [points to Shaun Neff].
SLAM: Does it feel like you’re kind of breaking new ground here? You don’t hear much about kids growing up dreaming of having their own underwear line, but now you’ve helped prove that that’s as a possibility.
KD: Yeah. I’d just like to say, I just want [fans] to feel loyalty towards our brand and feel like they’re one of us, because it’s a family. It’s new and different and I feel like we have the best product.
SLAM: Shaun, you’ve never worked with an NBA player. How was it?
Shaun Neff: Yeah, I mean, it’s been somewhat of a dream come true, being a basketball fan growing up and before we met, a huge fan of Kevin. To be working, sitting across the table as business partners, I had to get over that freak-out phase to be like, OK, cool, let’s do business. But I’ve been impressed by the creativity. Our first product, a lot of our artwork was really big on the [underwear’s] band, with big branding, and him and Rich [Kleiman, KD’s agent] really came through and said, Hey, let’s be different. The look that we’ve established, that’s different, fully came from Kevin. That’s why it’s been rad. It’s been a real relationship. He’s really dictated the product, which is cool.
SLAM: Kevin, are you gonna get them to your teammates?
KD: Oh, no doubt. I really wanna do something cool for my teammates. We’ll figure that out. But yeah, I’ve put ‘em on, worked out in them this week. It feels like I have basketball tights on, but it feels a little better, because it’s not as tight. It’s easy to play in, and my teammates saw them are we instantly like, Yo, I need a pair. I can’t wait for them to try it on. My whole goal is to have all my teammates—like, when I walk into the arena, and they’re changing for the game, I wanna see their underwear, ‘Cause I look at guys’ underwear, as weird as that sounds. I want them to have my underwear on. That’d be pretty sweet for me.
SLAM: Training camp starts next week. You ready?
KD: Oh, I feel great. I’m excited to play again.