Nets’ Allen Crabbe and Stylist Sister Step Out for First New York Fashion Week

NEW YORK CITY -- It’s a quarter to 7 p.m. on a frigid February Saturday night in Brooklyn. In true New York Fashion Week form, Allen Crabbe of the Brooklyn Nets and his sister and stylist, Nicole “Niki” Kirkland, are running late to his loft in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood.

The space has a modern chic vibe, designed for Allen’s comfort and fun. There’s a pool table, a massive shoe closet featuring a collection of Allen’s favorite adidas kicks, and a game ball marking his Nets franchise single-season record for made threes (set in 2017-18).

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At his loft in Brooklyn, Allen Crabbe has a glass case for the game ball when he set the Nets' record for most three-pointers made in a season. (Jon Carmelli)

After a lengthy delay, the Crabbes stroll into the building, Barneys shopping bags on their arms and smiles across their faces.

“We made it,” Niki tells CloseUp360.

As Allen and Niki walk into the loft, a calm wave of chaos unfolds in front of gorgeous views of lower Manhattan. And though the Brooklyn Navy Yard isn’t far away, the 8 p.m. start for the John Elliott show—the star-studded headliner for the night—doesn’t leave much time for Niki to dress her brother.

Fortunately, Allen and Niki share a magnetic understanding that, amid this kind of time pressure, helps to keep things moving. Niki anticipates Allen’s needs like only a big sister could (she’s 29, he’s 26). She ties his Yeezys for him, puts Cartier jewelry on his wrist and dangles some ice around his neck.

“Allen can get comfortable very fast, so I encourage and push him to take risks,” Niki says. “I have a vision in my mind, and at times when I show him he won’t be into it. Then he puts it on and it all comes together.”

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Niki has helped Allen take his fashion game to the next level since her brother was traded to Brooklyn in 2017. (Jon Carmelli)

This may be their first Fashion Week evening together, but it’s evident that they’ve done this before. Allen supports her fashion endeavors and trusts her taste with his wardrobe.

“I like to shop, but not to the extent that she does,” Allen says. “I'm pretty particular. If I'm going to the mall to get something, I know exactly what I want and so I get it. I'm there 15 minutes. But with her, I can be there for hours. So I kind of let her do everything. She'll go to the stores, she'll send me stuff online and stuff like that.

“She's like the mastermind behind all of my looks."

The trade that sent Allen from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Nets in the summer of 2017 helped to create this opportunity for convergence between basketball, fashion and family. The Crabbes were certainly used to Allen pursuing his hoop dreams far from their home in South LA. From AAU tournaments in high school to playing college ball at Cal-Berkeley and traveling through his sixth year in the NBA, he’s always made the game a priority in his life, no matter the destination.

“Even in Portland, he was only a few hours from home,” Niki says. “Growing up, he had a tournament every weekend. He would miss family vacation sometimes, too. His entire world was basketball. Then New York happens and it’s across the country. You have to prepare to make that trip.”

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Allen and Niki take a moment to goof around inside Allen's loft in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood. (Jon Carmelli)

Niki, though, loved the move to Brooklyn. Beyond her brother’s basketball career, the change of scenery also afforded her a chance to up the ante for Allen as her client.

“I definitely encourage him to be more bold with his fits and try new trends since he moved to the city,” she says.

With Allen dressed for success—in a t-shirt and pants by John Elliot, Yeezys by adidas Originals and a snakeskin Heron Preston coat as a statement piece—the Crabbes hop in their private sleek black SUV, tingling with anticipation like the NYFW rookies that they are. Allen immediately hops on his phone to play DJ during the ride, blasting his favorite tracks—from “Drip Too Hard” by Lil Baby and Gunna to “Going Bad” by Meek Mill and Drake—into the night.

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Allen and Niki step out for their first New York Fashion Week experience. (Jon Carmelli)

It’s 8:30 p.m. Allen and Niki arrive at the John Elliott show to find all the elements of a New York Fashion Week with a Brooklyn mood: wet ground, dim lights and an industrial feel. The siblings find their seats, but don’t get to sit long before a wave of photographers and media swoop Allen into a short photoshoot.

Though Allen may not be as big a star as some of the other sports luminaries in attendance—including Jimmy Butler, Nick Young and Victor Cruz, among others—in front of the flash bulbs, he looks the part thanks to Niki’s consultation. She, of course, beams with pride.

“I didn’t expect that,” Allen says, “but it was dope!”

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Allen hangs with Jimmy Butler at the John Elliott show during New York Fashion Week. (Josh Sobel)

The most surreal moment of the night—for Allen and Niki, at least—comes later, when they get to meet John Elliott himself.

"I wear some of his clothes. I have some of his joggers, shirts, jackets," Allen says. "But to actually meet the man himself I think is cool—the man who has put in the hard work to create his brand and basically kind of create his legacy. And I thought it was cool to actually meet the man behind all the hard work and the success that he's had for his company."

As enthralled as Allen is to rub shoulders with John, he’s just as enthralled by what he sees from the designer’s fall 2019 collection.

“Some of those looks were fire,” Allen exclaims as he steps out. “Definitely different."

“I wish I could’ve stayed for two weeks,” Niki says. “The shows go by fast, because if you think about it, how many looks can be presented for one season? I definitely will do it again.”

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Allen with Nick Young (left) and John Elliott (center) at the designer's show. (Josh Sobel)

Even after the trip to New York, Niki has her hands full with fashion. A graduate of LA’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), she now runs her own women’s boutique called K. Elle, named for her little daughter, on Melrose Avenue in her and Allen’s hometown of Los Angeles.

“The space is all very chic with gold tones,” she says. “I’m proud of how it turned out.”

She can also be proud of the product on the shelves. Being a perfectionist, she shops for the merchandise in the store herself.

“I pick the clothes and brands on my own—mostly pieces I would wear, but more risqué ones as well,” she explains, “because I know the girls will like it.”

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Niki runs her own boutique clothing store, called K. Elle, on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. (Jon Carmelli)

With Allen on her roster, Niki has proven herself to be plenty capable of dressing men and women alike. He, in turn, has supported her talent by showcasing her style choices whenever he walks into an NBA arena, on the same strolls that the likes of Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker have turned into makeshift runways.

“I'm proud of her. I really am,” he says. “She can be very, you know, mom-like. She even says that she's my mom instead of my sister. But I'm happy for her. I've seen the hard work that she's put in, I've seen certain things that most people wouldn't know about her that she's had to go through. But to see where she's at now, I think it's really been an amazing journey and I'm glad that I'm someone who can by her side to help, somebody who can see all of her hard work pay off.

As for whether Allen and Niki will ever collaborate on a clothing line of their own, the decision could once again come down to a sibling consensus.

“If it makes sense and feels authentic, why not?” Allen says.

“I’m with Allen on this one,” Niki adds. “I’m in if it feels right in the future.”

For now, Allen and Niki have an eventful night to recap. After stopping by a Tiffany & Co.’s event with Nick Young, the group heads to Catch, a trendy seafood restaurant in the Meatpacking District, for food, laughs and a bit of fashion.

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After the John Elliott show, Allen and Niki join Nick Young for dinner at Catch in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. (Jon Carmelli)

“I realized that the fashion shows are definitely shorter,” Allen says. “You get there, you mingle. Fashion shows are probably about 10, 15 minutes, and then it's the after the show that everybody is still hanging around, mingling. But I thought it was pretty cool though, just to look at the type of new clothing that is coming out.

“You draw a crowd of athletes, rappers, movie stars, so I thought it was cool. I thought it was dope. Definitely would love to do it again and I had a great time."

 

Victoria Jacobi is an NBA insider who covers the convergence of basketball, branding and fashion. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Additional reporting by Magdalena Munao.