Former NBA Player Lazar Hayward is Channeling His Creativity Through His Clothing Brand Nobel

Growing up, Lazar Hayward remembers gravitating towards brands like Iceberg. Seeing Nas, Raekwon and Jay-Z rock tees and knit sweaters bearing Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and Popeye seemed so effortlessly hip-hop. He’d tag along with his dad on weekend trips into the city where they’d travel around NYC’s fashion district and fill upwards of five hockey bags with pieces and then flip them at his dad’s flea market booths. When he wanted to turn up the sophistication, he’d sneak into his dad’s closet and snag one of his many silk shirts. Red, brown, white, navy, black; a collection of perfect base colors lay at Hayward’s fingertips.

“I was taking all of them joints, sneaking ‘em right in my bookbag and he was getting pissed,” Hayward says with a laugh. 

Mixing his streetwear origins with an elevated grandeur has become the bedrock for the clothing brand Hayward founded in 2020, Nobel. Now, Hayward finds himself on the other side of the coin. Last year, Nobel’s exclusive shorts for the Las Vegas Summer League sold out. Since then, everyone from current NBA players to the NBPA has been hitting him up in hopes of getting their hands on the next drop. 

Following a four-year career at Marquette, the All-Big East selection was chosen in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft, carving out a seven-year career between the L and the G-League. After quietly stepping away from professional basketball, Hayward began looking for another outlet to channel his expression.

“And I was like, fashion. I don’t have to put my name on it, I don’t really care to put my face there,” Hayward tells SLAM. “Nobel, I chose that name for a reason because there was so much crap going on and I just thought that, being nobel even though there’s a bunch of shit happening to you in your life, you can still do right. I just needed a constant reminder, and that’s why Nobel came in.”

When Hayward launched the brand four years ago, he envisioned clothing pieces that told stories by gelling the energy of the street with an unspoken elegance. He references everything from Chanel to how we position photographs within our magazine as the visions for his inspiration.

Steeped in Hayward’s love for Roman numerals and vintage architecture, Nobel captures a graceful edge through distorted floral imagery and archaic detailing. From vibrant colors and pastel palettes to refined aesthetics and angles, Hawyard has crafted his own form of elegance through Nobel.

As Hayward tirelessly worked through the beginning stages of the brand’s development, the NBPA took notice, inviting the founder to join the union’s Players Accelerator Program. Throughout the pilot launch in 2020, Hayward took part in every workshop and panel he could be a part of. His persistent dedication has led to continued partnerships within the program.

For the past two years, Nobel has been working with the Players Association at the Las Vegas Summer League. In 2022, Hayward cooked up event-exclusive tees with Roman numerals depicting the founding year of the NBPA–1954. Alongside various NBPA member brands last year, Nobel returned to Las Vegas where the brand sold an updated crop of designs at the PA’s first-ever pop-up retail experience. 

“Everything is organic with me, everything. I really stand on that. No matter how long it takes, even with money, business, all that, I just want it to be organic,” Hayward tells SLAM.

The recent run of exposure continued into this past All-Star weekend when we teamed up with Hayward and Nobel for a collaborative series of heavy tees, merging our two brand’s unrelenting passion for the game and its intersection with fashion. Mirroring the success at the NBPA pop-up in Vegas, two of the three pieces within the capsule sold out by Saturday’s end. Don’t worry, we’ve still got sizes left in this crisp white tee.

Since stepping away from the hardwood and into an outlet of his own imagination, Lazar Hayward has crafted a distinct lane for creative expression to roam free. His journey, like countless other players, has become a blueprint for the current generation of future entrepreneurs to analyze. He’s sending packages of threads to the League’s brightest stars, studying fabrics in the depths of LA factories, collaborating with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves (keep ya eyes peeled) and selling out pop-up venues. Even though he still hasn’t gotten his hands on the shorts that sold out at Summer League in 2023, he’ll be back in Vegas this summer with a new collection in tow.

“I’m gonna get me some this time though,” Hayward laughs.

Photos via Lazar Hayward.

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