Stephen Curry Talks About Virgil Abloh, Diversifying Fashion, and The Cultural Significance of Tunnel Walks

Stephen Curry just tipped off his 15th consecutive season with the Golden State Warriors. But, cruising into the Chase Center on Tuesday, Curry was looking to do much more than just beat the Phoenix Suns: The four-time champion was also kicking off a season-long initiative to spotlight Black fashion designers — and help turn his fans onto up-and-coming labels.

The initiative, which sees Curry teaming up with Rakuten and the Black in Fashion Council (BiFC), works like this: BiFC selects Black designers that deserve to be highlighted, Curry shows them to the world during his tunnel walks, and Rakuten helps everyone shop the looks (Rakuten, for the unfamiliar, provides Cash Back, deals, and rewards from thousands of brands). “It’s a really cool way for us to use this entire season,” Curry tells Rolling Stone. “Fans can go buy the looks that I’ll be wearing, and that just gives us a great way to elevate these young designers who are going to be influencing culture for the foreseeable future.”

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Curry’s opening night outfit showcased a look from Pierre Blanc, styling the BiFC designer’s tweed shirt and flared trousers with Bottega Veneta’s Haddock boots.

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Shop more BiFC designers through Rakuten.com to earn Cash Back, including these highlighted brands below:

Advisry (Keith Herron)
Des Pierrot (Deslyn Pierrot)
Head of State (Taofeek Abijako)
Pierre Blanc (Paul Richards)
Savant Studios (Michael Graham)

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BiFC was founded by Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles in 2020. The council works to “secure the advancement of Black individuals in the fashion and beauty industry at every level” by working with brands, agencies, and individual designers to diversify the industry.

Crucial to the three-way partnership is the modern status of tunnel walks as a runway. Since joining the NBA in 2009, Curry has been able to see tunnel walks transform from an expendable bit of broadcast TV to the NBA’s version of red-carpet fashion. “It’s an amazing platform for us to share pieces of our own personality, how we’re feeling at the moment, and where culture and sports collide,” says Curry. “So it’s cool to take advantage of it this year with this initiative.”

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He also recalls looking back at his past tunnel walks while ideating with BiFC designers: “I told them about my first fit that I wore my rookie year for my first NBA game and how terrible it was,” says Curry, shaking his head. “It was literally what the Peaky Blinders were wearing. But I thought I looked fly.”

Since that debut tunnel walk, however, Curry has become heavily involved in the fashion world (and much more stylish in the process). Earlier this year, Under Armour appointed the two-time MVP as the President of the Curry Brand, a sneaker and clothing line launched by Under Armour and Curry in 2020.

But, throughout his fashion journey, Curry has encountered many of the same racial disparities that BiFC and Rakuten are working to correct. “The traditional voice that you see at the design table and leading certain brands is kind of a funnel that’s been pretty exclusive in terms of representation,” he says, before bringing up a turning point in fashion’s path toward inclusivity: Virgil Abloh’s appointment as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line.

“The ripple effect of [Abloh’s] accomplishment before he passed created a new energy allowing black designers to not only share what they see, and put themselves out there, but also protect their IP,” Curry says. But even though Abloh may have broken the glass ceiling, there’s work to be done: “[I’m] seeing just how hard it is to maneuver through some of these pipelines for some of these young designers that see themselves in the success stories, and have been inspired by them, but there isn’t necessarily a lot of connectivity on how to get there.”

And that’s where BiFC x Rakuten x Curry comes in. “There’s just so much talent out there, so we’re just making sure that the opportunity matches that and meets it,” says Curry. “Because black designers and other minority designers that are trying to infiltrate these spaces, they only make the entire industry better.”

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