Last week, the Sacramento Kings launched two limited edition hats designed by Kings Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Through a collaboration with New Era, as well as the Kings Creative and Merchandise teams, Willie infused his personal style into two custom hats available online and at team stores. This release is his second fashion project with the team – following up on a series of custom watches from last season. We spoke with Willie Cauley-Stein and the Sacremento Kings President Chris Granger on this collaboration.
QG: How did this collaboration come about?
Chris Granger (CG): From the moment Willie joined the Kings in 2015, his incredible sense of style, fashion and taste have been on display. Last year, we wanted to embrace his passion for design so we worked with him to launch a special watch line. He even helped us share our new, on-court look during our 2016 rebrand. We’re thrilled that Willie has become so passionate about our city, the team’s identity and brand and that he looks forward to sharing his passion and talents with our fans.
QG: This is your second collaboration with the Sacramento kings. How is this project different than your Personalized Watches project?
Willie Cauley-Stein (WC): The Modify watch project was special to me not only creatively, but because it honored a young friend of mine, Blake Hundley, who passed away from cancer – proceeds from the watches are still donated directly to the American Cancer Society to help fund pediatric cancer research.
My hat collaboration is also more than a fashion statement – up to $5,000 of the hats sales will be donated to Sacramento’s Art Beast Studio “Willie Cauley-Stein Scholarship”.
QG: How did your personal style influence New Era and the Sacramento Kings Creative and Merchandise teams with the design of hats?
WC: I love clean looks with a bit of pop. The crispy whites are perfect for that, all white everything except for the purple Kings logo. Together, with that subtle pebbled leather front, it makes a real sleek look.
The league has had some iconic logos and looks in the past, and one of my all-time favorites is the retro Kings script. I loved the idea of paying homage to that era.
QG: Out of all of the merchandise to design, why did you choose hats?
WC: When it comes to fashion, accessories are everything. To me, a clean hat is the perfect way to add to your look, especially when they look as fire as these do.
QG: How important is it for the Sacramento Kings to give back to the city of Sacramento?
CG: We want to be a team that is much bigger than basketball and we want to engage our community at every possible opportunity. When we developed our new arena – Golden 1 Center, we ensured that the economic and cultural benefits would remain in the region. We hired local contractors, brought in local artists, partnered with regional food providers, and support the people that serve this community every day. Sacramento Proud is much more than a tag line for us; it is a commitment to make Sacramento a better place every day.
QG: Why is it important for Professional teams to support their players off the court?
CG: For us, it is about building an incredible community – and our players are a part of what makes Sacramento great. Helping them explore off-court passions, providing them an opportunity to grow beyond the business of basketball, and supporting them with resources that only an NBA team may have, creates a stronger connection and bridge to our city and citizens. It reinforces that we want to be an agent of change and community good.
Check out the behind the scenes video to see the team showcase the design and development process, as well as Willie’s first look at the hats during a recent photoshoot.
Click here to purchase your limited edition Sacramento Kings hats.