Riccardo Tisci can’t shake his love of basketball

Riccardo Tisci has traded the couture catwalks of Paris for the basketball courts of New York, collaborating with footwear superpower Nike for a collection that reworks athletic staples, such as bomber jackets bedecked with customizable trading pins, American flag-reminiscent Air Force 1s (complete with RT colors), and a new logo for Tisci’s imaginative team.

Tisci brought his dreamlike fantasy to the iconic sportswear brand for his latest collaboration, called “Victorious Minotaurs.” Designed as a ready-to-wear collection for both on and off the court, lovers of the game will find delight in his introduction of Oxford shirting, bomber jackets and skirts to classic athletic wear.

While it’s not the first time the designer has stuck his foot in the proverbial streetwear court, again, it’s a slam dunk. “When I first collaborated with Nike, eight years ago, we were the first one to do a collaboration as a couture designer with sportswear,” he says.

But what was so appealing about ditching a luxury label for an ubiquitous brand? “I was working in luxury, so I was making beautiful clothes, dreams, expensive. What I like to do is work with the young generation. People cannot afford to buy what luxury does and so you really make them be part of your journey with an entry price for things that they can really use.”

While Tisci left Givenchy in February of this year to take a sabbatical (he was replaced by Chloé’s former creative director, Clare Waight Keller), he hasn’t been sidelined for too long. As an ex-basketball player himself, his love of the game has made a comeback in a big way. With this newest collection, he’s returned to his roots on the court and revisited some of his best slam-dunk memories.

“The real story of how I left basketball is that I hurt myself when I was 15 [years old]. I hated the sport for 15 years because for me, sport was democratic. Everybody rich and poor, we all understand the courtyard. We come from a sport family, I thought that was really good to be like that. But I never played until—I can’t tell you who—but somebody very public four years ago in Los Angeles asked me to play.

It was with only a few people watching us. I played [for the first time] after a long time and then one night I played for CNN. They did a big story on me when I had my 10 year anniversary—I did a show in New York. CNN did a big story on me and I talked about Nike and basketball and they said, ‘Why don’t you play?’

They filmed me playing at 2 o’clock in the morning, alone, in the basketball yard. That was the only two times in the last five years that I touched a basketball. So I got very emotional when Nike asked me to do this collection, because I’m an ex-basketball player—the NBA for me is like a dream. It is so important for a company like Nike to get back to the NBA, so to ask me to do this collection was very special.”