Shaquille O’Neal prides himself on sporting a corporate look these days, but the 7-foot-1-inch basketball star used to wear totally outlandish outfits back in the day ― for good reason.
“When I had my tux tailor, I used to do a lot of stuff to get attention. So my jackets used to go three inches below my calves. It was a clown look,” he told HuffPost at a JC Penney and Wilhelmina event in August.
“This was before social media, but I still used to go viral. That’s all a form of my marketing. And then when I got older I said, ‘You know what? I did all the little kiddie stuff, it’s corporate time,’” he said of his evolving style.
But the basketball legend, businessman, DJ and designer said he doesn’t regret any of his wild looks.
“Because if it was a look that was really off the wall, it was done for marketing purposes only,” the 47-year-old added. “I know how to get people’s attention and I’ve been doing it through the years, it’s through humor. And I don’t mind laughing at myself. I don’t.”
When O’Neal was wearing these wild suits, he said he would routinely spend $3,000 per suit in order to get it tailored to his requirements.
“For so long, even when I played, I only go to one or two stores to get stuff for me,” he said, of the stores — Rochester and DXL — he used to frequent.
“Or if I didn’t want to go there, I had to go to an expensive tailor,” he added.
Once he retired, Shaq said he rethought spending thousands of dollars on a suit, which inspired him to create an affordable line of suits first with Macy’s and now with JC Penney. He also wants others built like him to still be able to find suits that fit properly without spending such a huge chunk of cash.
“We need to realize that the world is very different. Everybody’s not the same size, right?” the former basketball player said. “Brands need to do a better job of creating for everybody. And if they did create for everybody, I guarantee their profits will go up. It’s a movement that needs to happen.”
In addition to wanting his clothing lines to fit into budgets and offer a wide range of size options, he also wants his big and tall customers to feel like they have a lot of style choices.
“You remember I’m a big man, but I don’t like dressing like big guys,” he said. “It upsets me when I go into a store and I can’t get my stuff. I want to look like that. I want to wear the shoes.”
“Whatever all the hot little guys are wearing, I would like as well,” Shaq added, mentioning that he thinks sportscaster Bryant Gumbel knows how to dress well, though he knows style is subjective and he leans toward a more corporate look.
“I’m very, very business-minded, so all my suits are business-orientated,” Shaq said, adding that he has to look a certain way because he’s on TV a lot. “A lot of guys wear a lot stuff that I wouldn’t wear, but then again, fashion is subjective. You do whatever you think is hot.”
The only time Shaq doesn’t sport the corporate look is when he performs DJ sets around the world. That’s when suits just won’t do for the basketball star, who goes by DJ Diesel when he performs.
“I wear jeans and I always wear a tank top,” he said. Whatever suits him.
Check out more of Shaq’s looks below: