Gone are the days of athletes just playing their sport. They endorse products, design clothes, sell real estate, promote parties — diversity is key to success on and off the court. Matt Barnes may not seem like the modern athlete at first glance — a tough, hard-nosed complementary player who knows his role.
However, Barnes’ philanthropic endeavors has led him to the seemingly unlikely field of fashion design. Barnes is a co-owner of and investor in Elusion Clothing, a streetwear brand based out of Cleveland, Ohio. The Basketball Jones’ Megan Wilson recently spoke with Elusion’s creator and head designer, Danita Davis on what it takes to build and maintain a clothing brand today and how Barnes’ is a model, muse and collaborator.
Megan Wilson: How did Elusion Clothing start?
Danita Davis: Elusion was an idea of mine early on in college. I made it my goal to launch the brand. I was in college majoring in Computer Info Tech, bored out of my mind in classes. Fashion was always my love. I started the brand after studying fashion for five years … learning anything and everything possible about fashion, from designing to labeling to retail.
In 2006, I got very sick. My fiance [then boyfriend] held all of the bills down along with my brother while I launched Elusion. I had $250 left in my bank account when I started; that $250 bought me a couple of shirts that I gave to friends of mine. From there, the brand took off. I was also three months pregnant then with my son, Darrian.
MW: Where’d you come with the name Elusion?
DD: The name Elusion is a name my friends and I came up with in college. Elevating Life’s Unique Styles Instead Of Negating: E.L.U.S.I.O.N. My definition of that is to appreciate all styles of clothing, all types. When I launched Elusion, I wanted to create a brand that any type of man could wear and appreciate.
MW: How did you get involved with Matt Barnes?
DD: I chose to get involved with Matt after a friend told me about what he was doing for cancer research. At the time I was promoting a shirt we had made for a friend of mine who suffered from cancer in the throat. Matt had just launched his foundation at that time. Matt lost his mom to cancer a few years ago. I was already a big fan of him on the court, so I reached out to do my part to support. I sent him 100 shirts for the golfers and participants. He called me after the event, which blew me away. He inquired about the brand. I mentioned ownership to him and he was willing to help us. Since then, we’ve been close. He’s like my brother now.