Bristol Studio Is Capturing NBA Talent With Its Authentic Basketball Aesthetic

Bristol Studio is the fashion brand that has organically captured NBA and WNBA athletes’ attention with its hoops aesthetic and organic translation of the queues of basketball rather than an explicit iteration. Since launching almost a decade ago, Bristol Studio and its co-founders Luke Tadashi and Maasai Ephriam have made performance and athleticism as baseline elements of the brand.

What gets the appeal and the likes of NBA athletes like Kyle Kuzma, Carmelo Anthony, Seth Curry, and Lebron James, or WNBA stars like Kelsey Plum and Jewell Loyd, is the spirit, culture, and artistry of the sport. The LA-based garment studio and basketball-lifestyle brand has attracted basketball enthusiasts with its clean and sleek design that echoes the sport in design.

Items like the Triple Hem Short have a layering effect seen on streetball courts, the reversible sweat suits resembling the look of an inside-out sweatshirt and sweatpants, and the Warm-Up Pant with bound marker design like the lines that encase basketball courts everywhere. Inspiration from basketball is seen throughout the collection and in every drop.

Tadashi describes the garments as he relates them to the nuances of the sport, “so many garments we wore as kids were reversible: practice jerseys, shorts. It was such a part of basketball culture. I knew I wanted to apply that same functionality to garments that had never been reversible in the past.”

“The Sweatsuit was the perfect starting place because we actually flipped it inside out as kids.” Tadashi reminiscences. “We would wear it with the terry loops showing on the outside. There was no functionality, though it wasn’t meant to be worn that way. So I decided to elevate that idea and make it intentional.”

The basketball community is dear to co-founders Tadashi and Ephriam, who both came up through AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] organizations, collegiate basketball programs, and stints overseas playing in professional basketball leagues. The community extends to local runs in their hometown base of Los Angeles and at events like Art Basel Miami Beach.

“I’m drawn to materials that fit a concept. So for the Coaches Trousers and Jacket, I knew I wanted the garments to speak to the game,” said creative director Tadashi. “So when I came across this fabric that texturally represented the hardwood, I knew that had to be it.”

“For some other garments, I look for a specific weight and hand that reminds me of the early 2000s when I was a kid. I have a nostalgia for that time like we all do for our childhoods. So I find things that put me back in that time and that mindset of being a kid.

Be it that NBA and WNBA players are fans, the collections reflect the game in unexpected and subtle ways. Bristol Studios also markets its affinity to basketball, teaming up with local and global ball players as collaborators on and off the court.

In an ongoing exploration of the wide-reaching culture and community surrounding the game, Bristol Studio tapped Pops Mensah-Bonsu for its most recent collection. One of 7 British-born players to ever make it to the NBA tier of basketball in the United States, Mensah-Bonsu is one of only two players of Ghanaian descent. He grew up in Tottenham, London, where basketball was an underwhelming activity and sport compared to soccer [football]and elevated to the premier professional league.

Mensah-Bonsu would see basketball as an opportunity to progress in the world with a college degree, attending George Washington University, and hopes to play in the NBA. He achieved his NBA dream after a decorated college career. An opportunity to join the NBA Summer League would lead to an undrafted walk-on role, receiving a contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Mensah-Bonsu went on the play for the Spurs, Raptors, Rockets, and the New Orleans Hornets, rounding out his career in foreign leagues.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu would become an olympian playing for Great Britain. He became President of G-League Operations for the New York Knicks and general manager of the Capital City Go-Go later in his career. He continues building his basketball community in Accra, Ghana, with his Seed Academy promoting basketball play and potential worldly opportunities for their community.

Back in Los Angeles, Bristol Studio, co-founders Ephriam and Tadashi steadily work to create a brand that brings the basketball world together. For the 2022 Complex Con, Bristol Studio would build out a basketball court-inspired booth that abstractly portrayed an arena complete with an arcade hoop for effect.

“My childhood involved basketball almost every day,” Tadashi notes. “From the age of 9 through freshman year of college, my life revolved around the game. My dad was a big fan and would always have the games on, so I just gravitated toward it naturally. As I got a little older, I became obsessed with Kobe. Growing up in LA, his career coincided perfectly with my childhood. He got drafted when I was 4-5 years old, and I followed him all the way until he retired.”

Through Basketball, Tadashi has discovered new friendships, like with frequently featured male model Jordan Coleman, who he met on a court at a local park. A high school sophomore at that time, Coleman ripped through his pair of sneakers in a game against Tadashi. Tadashi would give the young Coleman his extra pair of sneakers. The sentiment was received well and developed into a working relationship and guidance.

Fashion has become an opportunity for Tadashi and Ephriam to give back to their community. “Bristol Studio has grown into my story,” Tadashi notes. “I realized there are so many brands out there, so the only way to stand out is to tell my story. I drew upon my love for basketball and my Japanese background – my mom would take my brother and me to Japan as kids, and I got caught up in Japanese design sensibilities. I basically blended those two things and started creating clothing that fused those parts of me.”

Bristol Studio developed its basics as a callback to the sport of basketball, “the primary pieces that we promote are the Reversible Sweatsuit, the triple Hem Shorts, and our Home Team Sweat program,” Ephriam details. Bristol Studio has perfected custom-developed fabrics, elevating the aesthetic even more.

Ephriam dives deeper into the collections while highlighting what goes beyond the court for the Bristol Studio. “The more elevated [garments] are the reversible flight jackets, Jake Cargo Pants, Tadashi Button Down Shirts, and the Coaches Jacket and Trousers,” are pieces that still reference the elements of the game.


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