Watching him plough downhill through the paint and unbalance any semblance of defensive strategy, take sniper shots from the pocket, or swing the ball to his teammates to capitalize on clear looks, Kyle Kuzma’s moves on the floor might be “blink and you’ll miss them” in speed but his intentionality is anything but. Since being traded to the Wizards in the summer following his 2020-2021 season, Kuzma’s proved an integral part of the franchise’s identity and style shift under Wes Unseld Jr. When Kuzma went to Washington he brought along all the intangibles he’d been deploying for the Lakers — more defensive responsibility, improved rebounding, growing out of the singular role as lone gunner — and was given a wider, more cooperative stage to showcase them.
That intention has been clear in the off-court moves Kuzma’s made since the move, too. Settling into D.C. and finding an appreciation for his new home in its architecture and history, expanding his fashion footprint by taking in plenty of designer shows over the summer, and most recently, a thoughtful partnership with PUMA and his own line, Childhood Dreams, focused on sustainability. The collection, in tandem with PUMA Hoops, showcases pieces rooted in a 90s aesthetic and created to target concerns of the present. Apparel pieces in the collection are made using plastic-free, RE:place fabrics, or with recycled materials, and beyond that, PUMA is donating $10,000 to One Tree Planted in an effort to plant 10,000 trees in Kuzma’s home state of Michigan.
Dime spoke with Kuzma about the collection, shooting promo in the Florida Everglades, his creative process, sharing style tips with his friend Monte Morris, the Wizards, and how much that giant pink sweater weighs.
Settling into D.C., you’ve been there now for over a year, what were some of the biggest surprises about the city, and what have you grown to love?
I think one of the biggest things is the architecture here. A developer from Paris [Pierre Charles L’Enfant] actually helped with the blueprint design of D.C. From that standpoint, they have beautiful museums here, obviously the monuments. You know, museums are a one and done type of situation but it still brings the intrigue level to D.C.
The vibe around this Wizards team, it feels like the momentum that the team started building last season — you came in, Wes [Unseld Jr.] came in — but that’s carried into this season, and just gotten better. What do you attribute that to?
Just a lot of team chemistry. Everyone gets along and everyone holds each other accountable and wants to do the right thing to win basketball games. Any time you have a group of men that are dedicated to the ball club, it’s always going to do well.
To shift to this collection you’re doing with PUMA, I was curious how long it’s been in the works for you. In active production with PUMA but also, as someone who strikes me as quite creative, in the back of your mind?
It’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I can say that, really since college I developed a liking more into art, fashion, and just clothing — looking good. And I think from that young age, 10 years ago whenever that was, to now, and having those dreams really fall into fruition its been really great. It’s no better to have a partner like PUMA helping across the board.
Walk me through what the process was like, how were you supported creatively by Puma, how many levels were you involved in?
Well PUMA, they really support me a lot. On the basketball court, off the court, with my ideas, my thinking, my opinions. We’ve grown to have a really great partnership. Even throughout this Childhood Dreams collaboration, allowing me to be fully hands on and immerse myself in being a fashion designer.
Was the sustainability focus of the line important for you?
Yeah, it was a very important piece to the line. We want to tell stories with everything we do cause that’s what life is, and that’s what gives us the most life, when we can story-tell. Sustainability is such a huge thing in the world, we think about climate change, we think about where the world is headed right now, going electric, all these types of things. Within the fashion industry, sustainability needs to be talked about more, and how we as an industry can be a little more eco-friendly. For us, most of these products or apparel are either plastics free or holds up to at least 20 percent of recycled material. We’re just trying to do our part for this world.
I wanted to touch on some of the visuals for the campaign. The stills are really beautiful, the marsh setting, I was thinking of that and your line’s name, Childhood Dreams, and I wondered, were you a kid who spent a lot of time outdoors?
Yeah, I spent a lot of time outdoors. Some of my fondest memories were on golf course or in the woods, playing in the woods, going on walks. Going to college in Utah, hiking a lot. I have a lot of love for nature and what that brings to me as a person, the peace and tranquillity. But you know, we wanted to do something that also highlighted the environment and what better place to do it than the Everglades where it’s a habitat for an extreme portion of wildlife, and then also it’s somewhere that’s really beautiful that maybe a lot of people don’t know about too much.
To shift to you, I’ve heard you say before that mood determines your look. You dress for how you’re feeling. You spent some time at fashion shows this summer — do you take anything from shows that you end up incorporating into your own looks, or even your approach to this collection?
100 percent. When I’m thinking about my style and how it’s always evolving, I think that’s something that’s very, very important. As humans we always have to evolve. If I’m at a fashion show and I see something I really, really like, I may like a lot of things but things have to be timeless for me. Have to be something I could wear for a long, long time. Something that won’t ever go out of style. And something that is an automatic staple. I think that’s where I’m at with my personal style — what can I wear 10 years from now and it looks as if it hasn’t fallen off?
Another personal note, I talked with Monte [Morris] recently. We talked about the shopping he did in Japan, and I asked whether he takes any style advice from you. He mentioned you both have different styles but he likes the risks you take. Do you guys ever compare fit notes now that you’re teammates and back in the same city again?
You know, here and there. [laughs] Not all the time. He’s definitely a fan of my fits for sure. We always get giggles and laughs when I walk in. My teammates are always like, ‘Oh that’s fire, Kuz you different,’ but I’m definitely going to keep giving him more and more style points. He’s been stepping his game up this year too. I would like to take a little credit for that.
I wanted to scope back, big picture. We talked about you going to the Wizards last year and having a great season, starting this season even stronger, you’re in this partnership with Puma, there’s a lot of clarity to the improvements and moves you’re making — can you talk about intention, and the things you do to hone it for yourself?
That’s a really great question, honestly. Thank you for asking that. I think I just have a really strong intention in my life right now. I know where I’m at, I know who I am, I know what I want, and I’m really determined to get there. Whether it’s my focus on an everyday basis: how I prepare myself, how I approach certain things in my life, how I deal with all my relationships in my life. I just have a really strong intent. It’s been very much a positive in my career right now.
The last thing I am very curious about, and I know you’ve been asked about it a lot and you’ve said it’s really heavy, but I was wondering if you could guess how much that beautiful pink Raf Simons sweater weighs?
How much? I think it’s, uhh, it might be almost 10 to 15 pounds maybe? I feel like that’s kind of heavy, right?
Yeah, that’s very heavy!