We’re used to the athlete endorsement. We wear the shoes, drink the drinks, and eat more than our share of $5 Footlongs because people who are in much better shape than we are tell us we should. But we also understand that the athlete isn’t often actually involved in the brand, other than maybe grinning for the camera and cashing them checks.
But not so with Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat forward and two-time NBA champ who serves as creative director of his new menswear line, Mr. Nice Tie, and whose first collection debuted to a packed house at Carson Street Clothiers in Soho New York earlier this week. Bosh and his partner, Armstrong and Wilson out of Philadelphia, worked hand-in-hand to deliver a collection of five straight ties and five bow ties — in grey, purple, and turquoise tweed, light grey plaid, and hunter green herringbone — after poring over thousands of fabric books. Bosh helped design and detail the first collection, which mixes classic patterns and colors with contemporary flare. Each tie is finished with wool tipping and a gold button that represents the "luxury, quality, and sophistication” the brand hopes to be known for.
"We were always working together collaboratively to make sure everything turned out right," Bosh says as he towers over a room of designers, celebrities, and fans. "It’s pretty much my vision. We worked very hard to design the small details of the tie, went through many samples to get it right, and it’s been a very fun process."
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The straight ties are long enough for the NBA All-Star's 6'11" frame, and the bow ties come with the unique, versatile quality of being able to be either pre-tied and buttoned around the neck, or classically tied, depending on your preference (and skill level). Delivery of the collection took about two years, and Bosh admits the brand hit a slight bump last fall when he wasn’t satisfied with the initial line and decided to hold it off for a season.
"Now it’s a mix of what I like and the creative vision that I have," Bosh explains. "I wanted to do color, but subtle color. Not too much. Purple, not "Purple!" And I wanted to make sure it transcended race and fashion, so if you think it’s cool you can wear it for ten years."
Bosh, whose style has evolved "from a boy to a man" since entering the league in a sad, tan suit in 2003, is now known as one of America’s most stylish athletes. Inspired by the memory of how his father dressed for work when he was a child, Bosh first sketched out a few ideas (originally a “fun tie” before aiming for a classic look) and a logo while on the road in 2012.
"I wear ties all the time, so I wanted to do something that makes sense to me. I didn't want to come out with a ring line when I don’t ever wear rings," he says. "I wanted to make sure it was something that actually works for me, that makes sense to me, and is something that I’ll always be into. And I’m very into it. It’s turning into a passion."
So he’s the artist, designer, owner, and first client. You don’t get a much more genuine endorsement than that. [Starting at $105, Armstrong and Wilson]