Style Stories: Jazz’s Royce O’Neale Inspired by His Mom’s Style
LOS ANGELES -- On the court, Royce O’Neale fits in seamlessly with the Utah Jazz. Off of it, he stands out with his unique sense of style.
From bright colors to funky patterns, Royce seizes every opportunity he gets to showcase what he calls his “unique” style. With comfort and streetwear as the pillars of his signature looks, the native of Killeen, Texas indulges in trendy designer items from Off-White, Supreme and Gucci when picking out clothes for his pregame look.
Hours before Utah’s second game of the season, against the Los Angeles Lakers, CloseUp360 caught up with Royce at his Beverly Hills hotel as he prepared a few looks for the game.
(The interview has been edited for clarity and length.)
Royce O'Neale is in his third season with the Utah Jazz. (Amir Ebrahimi)
CloseUp360: Where do you get your fashion inspiration?
Royce O’Neale: My mom. You know, she has a little taste. She got her own little fashion. And then growing up, the little outfits that she put me in were always different and unique. And as time went on, I see other people how they dress and I'm, like, “I think I have my own fashion with a unique way of dressing.”
CU360: When did you become more self-aware and conscious of your fashion choices?
RO: I got into fashion probably in high school. All my friends were wearing Jordans, stuff like that, and I had a bunch. I wore polos and I always matched my shirt with my shoes. So I think it was starting then. And then now, it's just, like, you see how everybody else dresses. So I want to put my own unique, different spin on the way I want to dress.
CU360: How would you describe your fashion?
RO: Unique. I like to stand out. I wear bright colors. But, of course, you can never go wrong with wearing all black. But I like to lay out like two or three outfits before a game and see which one looks best at the time. I might change two or three times and be, like, “Alright, I'm picking this outfit.”
I’m probably more streetwear and casual. I mean, I'm not a big fan of suits and stuff. I have like one or two that I'll pull out. I wore one last year on Christmas game that we had. But no, I'd rather be like casual and chill.
It depends on if it's hot or cold. Hot, I might wear like a short-sleeved shirt that has a message on it with some nice pants. But the shoes have to match the pants and the socks. You know, socks are important, too, just in case the pants ride up a little bit. I try to match head to toe and try to coordinate many different colors with each other. If it's cold, I might wear a nice hoodie. I used to be big on Supreme, so I'd wear a Supreme hoodie or something, or a jacket with some nice jeans. And then the kicks, depending on the hoodie, they have to match.
The outfit Royce chose to wear to Lakers-Jazz in late October: a Heron Preston t-shirt, Rhude pants and Alexander McQueen shoes. (David Chisholm)
CU360: What are some of your favorite sneakers and shoes?
RO: I did a Nike trip this summer to China. So a couple of Nike athletes got to design their own shoe for opening week. You could use any inspiration or something that you like and love, so I chose my mom, of course, but I put her on every shoe I play in. And then I was, like, "I'm going to do my favorite candy, Skittles and Starbursts." I like different colors and like to stand out, so I put a whole bunch of colors into the shoe. I try to bring the heat all season with shoes on the court.
Off the court, like on the daily, I like wearing Uggs just because they're comfortable—the slippers and the slides. Then, I'd probably say Nikes are up there. The VaporMax, the 720s are pretty comfortable. The Nike Reacts. And then, if I'm dressing up, I wear Jordans or designer kicks every now and then. I wear Gucci, Prada. The Balenciaga Speed Trainers, the ones that are like socks, those are my favorite.
On the court, I love the Kobes; they're always comfortable. The KDs are real comfortable, too. But sometimes I switch shoes during the game. That's a thing. Some guys bring two or three pair of shoes to warm up in some, and then play in another pair and then switch again at halftime or something. Sneakers on the court are a big thing now.
CU360: Who are your favorite designers?
RO: That's tough. Of course, I like Gucci, like Louis Vuitton. Dolce & Gabbana is up there. Heron Preston. Off-White. I stay with H&M a little bit. You know, you might find a couple of pieces you need out of there. So I like a variety of stuff.
Royce, who's a Nike athlete, prefers to wear Kobes on the court. (David Chisholm)
CU360: What are your top three favorite pieces of clothing?
RO: This Gucci jumpsuit that I have; it's red and blue. I think that might be one of the top ones. Then I got this light blue light blazer faux suede jacket. It's kinda dope. It's from Supreme and it's got leopard print on the inside. So I might have to pull that out one game. And then probably this Martin Luther King hoodie that I got. It's actually Supreme, too. I wore it last season when we played on MLK day.
CU360: Who do you think has the best style in the NBA?
RO: Besides myself? A lot of guys have different styles out there. Mike Conley has great style. Him and Jeff Green. Russ [Russell Westbrook] is different, of course. He wears whatever and has a unique style. Tobias Harris, too.
Royce wearing the look he picked out while walking into Staples Center. (Amir Ebrahimi)
CU360: Why do you think fashion has become such a big part of NBA culture?
RO: I think just probably ‘cause the cameras are always around us. I feel like we're always in the spotlight. So, like, stuff that we wear, other people want to wear. And then now, with Instagram and Twitter, outfits get thrown out there. So everyone's, like, “Dang, where'd you get that from? You got good style.” Sometimes it's like you want to just wear sweats and be comfortable. But now it's, like, “Okay, the camera's out, so I got to dress up.”