The relationship between the NBA and fashion is one that seems to only strengthen with each passing year. We all know about the makeshift runway shows happening in pregame tunnels. Even players who used to keep things casual by wearing their team’s practice gear to the arena are participating now in some way. Players showing off their best fits before taking the court for games is nothing new. But much fewer players can say they actually have their very own brand. 

One of those players who has been able to take his interest in fashion one step further is Charlotte Hornets forward Kelly Oubre Jr. The 25-year-old has become one of the NBA’s best-dressed players since entering the league back in 2015. Some days his style perfectly encapsulates the NBA’s off-court taste level: a vintage NASCAR T-shirt layered with a checkered flannel, distressed denim jeans, and a pair of flashy sneakers. But where he shines is his embrace of what some may consider riskier style choices: painted nails, a skin-tight long sleeve shirt and black leather pants combo, or a spiked choker necklace. But with his brand Dope$oul, Oubre Jr. wants to send a deeper message with his designs and tell a story along the way.

“I’m trying to take y’all through my life with this capsule in a sense,” Oubre Jr. tells Complex. “I have double entendres on my life and everything that I go through, or we all go through as human beings, throughout all the things that I drop just because of the simple fact that it’s all love, art, and life.”

Oubre Jr.’s upcoming drop with Dope$oul is a reintroduction of sorts. During the quarantine, he released a small capsule of cozy loungewear for fans to rock around the house. Now, he plans on delivering his first fully fleshed out capsule, Baptized By Fire, which he says is the first of four capsules he will release this year. Select attendees like fellow NBA tunnel standout Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, designer Olivier Rogers, and jeweler Alex Moss got a first look at the upcoming drop at a special pop-up event held during New York Fashion Week last week at one of the city’s most notorious boutiques, Patron of the New. 

The nine-piece offering that was displayed in the purple-tinted event space includes a vintage washed hoodie with white flames running up the sleeves and an image of flaming purple skeletons covering the back, a cream and black “D$” logo snapback cap with a purple undervisor, that was donned by Oubre Jr. for the festivities, grey denim cargo pants, and a very of-the-moment face covering sublimated with an image reminiscent of the brand’s melting skull logo. Oubre Jr. says that the official release will take place in the coming days via his Dope$oul web store.

“I just want to inspire the youth and the dope souls around the world who don’t have the same circumstances to pretty much feel confident in themselves and make decisions for themselves unapologetically,” says Oubre Jr. “This is just the warm up for real, shoutout Cole.”

Ahead of the pop-up at Patron of the New, we sat down with Oubre Jr. over Zoom to discuss the new line, balancing a brand and basketball, the NBA tunnel, and more.

Check out the full conversation below.