Happy news: Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has officially worn 2021’s first enormous NBA fit—the kind that can start trends and possibly even revolutions. On Tuesday night, he left Barclays Center, where his team faced off against the Brooklyn Nets, wearing a black Sacai bomber jacket, yellow-and-black Nike Dunks (with complementary socks), and a plaid Fear of God kilt.
In the locker room after the game, an interviewer asked Clarkson, “What’s going on with the kilt?” as the cameraman panned up and down on the lustrous, mid-calf plaid specimen with oversize drawstrings and slash pockets. Clarkson answered, with impressive accuracy: “It’s swag, baby!”
In the pantheon of style superstars that is the NBA, Clarkson is one of the league’s major fashion risk-takers. In late 2019, he wore a tiny Chanel bag as a necklace; in December, he wore a robe sweatsuit by Camp High, the wavy loungewear brand beloved by his fellow menswear eccentric John Mayer.
But this is the first time he, or any player postgame, as best we can tell, has worn a kilt—which is also, let’s face it, a skirt! Let’s call a spade a spade! But the garment has been percolating for a year at the bleeding edges where fashion and professional sports meet. Thom Browne has dressed a handful of off-duty athletes in his pleated skirts—Odell Beckham Jr. wore one to the Met Gala, and the Clippers’ Serge Ibaka attended Browne’s spring 2020 show in a seersucker skirt suit. But on the runway that is the NBA arena tunnel, this is the first time we’ve seen this blessed, free-flowing garment. We’ve come a long way since Kanye West’s Riccardo Tisci–designed leather kilt raised eyebrows ’round the world, back in 2012.
Surely the relaxed style of the garment makes it a stylish go-to for our slouchy times. But it’s also a case of fashion’s avant-garde moving ever toward the center. Skirts and dresses made regular appearances on the men’s runways of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela, and Raf Simons during the ’80s and ’90s. They’re now one of Thom Browne’s strongest-selling items, and appeared over jeans in Celine’s spring 2021 TikTok collection this past summer. Jeremy O. Harris’s recent capsule collection for Ssense also featured a modest plaid skirt. Like Clarkson’s exemplary model, these skirts have a sporty, almost warrior-esque sensuality that feels like a no-brainer in these gender-fluid-fashion times. Could this be the big fit that launches a thousand kilts?