The bridge between fashion and sports is one that’s crossed often. Fashion-conscious guys look to athletes like O’Dell Beckham Jr., Cam Newton and Russell Westbrook for forward-thinking style moves that are just as sharp as their moves on the court and field. However, it’s rare for established athletes to make the jump from fashion plate to fashion mogul. 2x Olympian and Miami Heat alum Alade Aminu is hoping to change that. With his new clothing label Prime Figure Clothing, he hopes to not only flip streetwear on its head but do so with a motivational message. I had a chance to chat with the accomplished baller about his career and his transition into the fashion world.
1. You were a 2x Olympian. What were your events, what years did you compete, and how did you do?
I was a participant in the 2012 games in London and recently in the 2016 games in Rio as a member of the Nigerian Basketball Federation. In both games we had very tough competition and were limited to only first-round play. Though, with 5 years of experience with the National team, we feel confident, if able to compete in the 2020 Tokyo games, we will be able to put everything together to get the results we know we are capable of and take basketball not only for Nigeria but Africa to new heights.
2. What was that experience like-representing your country in front of millions of viewers?
Since starting the journey of playing basketball with my Nigerian national team it has been a truly humbling experience. My first encounter was back in 2012. The team was getting ready for preparation for the summer. I was just finishing coming off a championship in France where I was beat from the season and wanted to relax for the summer. However, my brother and my girl were pushing me to join the team and do something special, as they were competing in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Caracas, Venezuela. I had never been to South America at the time so I thought traveling to a new country and playing with my bro for the first time would be a great experience and could be a like a vacation as well. Once joining the team, I quickly realized what putting on that Nigerian national team jersey meant and how, during that tournament, we were able to inspire millions back home in Nigeria as we qualified for the Olympics for the first time in history. For Nigerian basketball to partake in the 2012 Olympic London games…to be able to motivate and inspire people following me as I play this game is the reward, I believe. It’s a very proud feeling and honor to be able to be a role model and show people whether from Nigeria or from where I grew up in east Atlanta, that with hard work and belief, anything is possible. And that’s exactly what it took in that tournament to punch our ticket.
3. You also played for the Miami Heat. What was your position? What was that experience like?
In 2009, I had finished my collegiate basketball duties at Georgia Tech and was entering the draft to train for NBA teams. One of the toughest tryouts I had was with Miami Heat. I think their whole mantra was to work you so hard until you either threw up or gave up. I heard of people doing just that with their workouts too. Luckily, I was prepared and accepted the challenge of being pushed, knowing it would only make me better and that was just my character. That eventually got me a training camp spot with Miami as a power forward and a call up during the year. The experience of being with the Heat was great. Being able to work with guys like Dwayne Wade and Jermaine O'Neal taught me a lot. It was a well-run organization and would have been even better if I had more opportunity to build there.
4. Now you’re a power forward for Pinar Karsiyaka. How did that opportunity come about?
After my Olympic run in 2012 I joined Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey, where I encountered some of the best and energetic KSK fans (kaf sif kaf). We had a great team and made it to the finals of the Euro challenge and final four of a very tough Turkish league. I really enjoyed my time there; it’s where I would eventually become a father just as my season finished up.
5. What inspired Prime Figure Clothing?
Prime Figure clothing is my clothing brand I started with a few of my friends during my season in Israel. It’s a streetwear brand that’s integrated with the message of motivating people to "Chase your dreams"; to not let fear rule your life. It really plays really well off my experiences and my life in general. That’s why I can 100% back and approve of Prime Figure’s cultivation to inspire and go after what you believe in. We started the brand in the summer of 2016 and the reception to the brand and message has been very positive. So we are looking forward to releasing upcoming new designs and pieces to come.
6. You currently offer bomber jackets and dad hats. What’s coming down the line for your brand? What attracted you to those items?
If you go on our site www.primefigureclo.com you will see our staple classic bomber jacket. This was our first product we put out for the brand. The sleek style jacket has been a great open for us to the public and has been a classic piece to build from. We then launched our Jackson Pollock-inspired dad hats, which have also inspired our signature cursive logo. Coming up, we have new product jacket designs and comfortable workout or leisure clothing for women and some great street and fashion gear for men we’re excited to be dropping soon.
7. What are your ultimate goals for Prime Figure?
The ultimate goal for Prime Figure is to inspire and motivate the people. Even if it’s just one person that says because of your brand and message, I had the confidence and belief to chase my dreams. That we sparked a fire of ambition in that person to not let fear hold that person back from reaching their full potential. If we are able to bring along that type of motivation from the success of our clothes and message, then I can say we would be in tune with our ultimate goal.
8. It seems basketball and streetwear have a natural intersection. Have you been inspired by any other NBA players who’ve successfully made a name for themselves in both fashion and basketball?
I think guys like Lebron James and Amare Stoudemire along with D.Wade have great taste in clothes and style and I definitely feel they have been very forward and influential with their fashion. I can see Prime Figure being the same way as we continue to grow into an international name and presence.
9. Your brother plays for the Trailblazers. Is there ever any friendly competition between the two of you?
Me and my brother Al-Farouq Aminu, who plays for the Trailblazers, have always been battling it out on the court for years. The best days were in our driveway, just me and him going to a game of 10. I would always win and in a fashion where he wouldn't want to play anymore, but I think that’s what made him tougher and built his character. We would be playing from the afternoon until the street lights came on and then some. I did a lot of the dominating in the driveway until, I think, around his senior or junior year where he actually starting getting more competitive and winning a few games. All those years of competing against each other from elementary and up, we never played on the same team together. Not until we got together for our national team were we able to play side by side. And with that pairing, we made the Olympics together. We only imagine and think now, how much else success we could have playing together. Although I think we really loved competing against each other, it was always fun and brought out the best in both of us.
10.Will Prime Figure and fashion in general become your full-time gig at some point?
I can definitely see Prime Figure being a full-time job as it grows and gets bigger. We put a lot of passion and pride behind it and we are looking forward to it continuing to flourish and win the respect of people with the fashion and brand. I think so many opportunities and positives can come from the brand that I'm excited for it to continue to progress step by step. I know as we continue to put the right team together and partners, we will be an international brand that puts out great clothing and has many more following in our path as a result.