Jason Vu founded the streetwear brand Authmade in 2017, and at the time, Vu was not only thinking about how players around the League were turning the tunnel into the runway, but the fashion game entirely as a whole. Growing up in Sacramento, California, he idolized legends like Michael Jordan and style icons like Allen Iverson, and as a designer, he aspired to create clothing you could actually wear, every day. Not only that, but clothing that told a story.
After all, AI wasn’t just rocking bold fits in the tunnel, but everywhere and anywhere he went.
“The thing that inspired me most about him was the way he had that swag,” says Vu. “What he wore, he introduced that fashion. When everyone was wearing suits to games, he was coming in with his street clothes and the armband and all that swag. He was probably my first basketball inspiration in the fashion realm and he was a killer on the court too. I always loved watching him play and the flashy [style]— huge inspo, watching him play inspired everything I’m doing today too.”
While Iverson brought that energy to his unwavering dedication to the game, Vu also saw his own Vietnamese parents embody that same level of dedication and sacrifice throughout his life. It’s one of the many inspirations behind Authmade’s latest collab with SLAM, the ‘So I Can Dream’ Collection.
“Our collection with SLAM carries a lot of weight for me not only as a designer, but as a Vietnamese immigrant,” Vu says. “The collection engages with the ‘immigrant story’ and how our parents and grandparents, people that came before us, came to America for us to be able to dream. The tagline of the collection is ‘So I Can Dream.’ From the jobs they had to work, to the many sacrifices they gave to us so we can have a better life and to be able to do what we do today—whether you work in the creative industry or if you’re working as a journalist, whatever it is.”
The ‘So I Can Dream’ collection captures the essence of the game with a premium, luxury feel and streetwear vibe. Every piece is made with authentic ideals in mind and is all about self-expression: from the basketball paint splatter on the Paint long sleeve to the artwork printed on the Vintage Faded sweatpants, and the military-inspired patches and insignias featured on the Flight Work jacket.
The collection can be worn anywhere, too—whether that’s in the tunnel, courtside at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento or all around the streets of New York and beyond.
Vu is a true storyteller and visionary at heart: he got into fashion in middle school and high school and still draws a lot of inspiration from some of the streetwear brands and sneakers he wore back then. With his brand Authmade, it’s all about being “authentic” to your roots and true to who you are. “I can’t create a brand and not be authentic to myself,” Vu says. “Our name is Authmade, [and] in my own personal style, I try to incorporate the streetwear I grew up on with modern day luxury touches and kinda merge the aesthetics of redefining the modern silhouette and kinda just having that blend into what we’re doing.”
Back in 2017, during a time when high fashion and streetwear were beginning to merge and grow more popular and accessible, licensed fashion NBA products were still limited. That’s when Vu and his team saw an opportunity at hand with the brand.
“Coming from a smaller city like Sacramento, where there aren’t a lot of resources, opportunities, and platforms for fashion, I had to get really creative and strategic. With the NBA being the biggest platform in my hometown, the Sacramento Kings, I knew that I had to venture through sportswear as a gateway to the fashion industry,” Vu explained. “A lot of these other brands came and they had the platform. They had the opportunities to do their mainline and tell their story through that way. We had to be a little bit unconventional, being from a smaller city. I think creating sportswear for a team and going through the NBA to make my mark in the fashion industry was the one way I knew I could do it.”
As Authmade continues to gain traction and work directly with the NBA, the final landing point is to continue building out their catalog into a core luxury mainline. The brand’s latest collaboration with SLAM is just the beginning.
“I’m incredibly grateful to SLAM for allowing me to share this story and be able to design a collection that speaks to everyone, not just immigrants,” Jason Vu said. “It doesn’t matter what race you are, or where you come from, we all connect through the values of family and everyone who came before us to help lay out our foundation.”