With the start of the 2024 WNBA season underway, this year’s incoming rookie class is garnering tons of attention, not just for their serious game, but their off-court ventures—and personal style—too. Minnesota Lynx rookie Alissa Pili is one of the many highly anticipated young talents many will be following this season, and yet, the 6-2 forward’s impact has always gone beyond the box score: Pili, who is Samoan and Iñupiaq, a group of Indigenous Alaskans, is currently tied with Ruthy Hebard as the highest draft picks by an Alaskan, having gone 8th overall (Hebard was drafted by the Sky in 2020). 

As a new pro, the former Utah star has continued to put her community, and heritage, at the forefront. From her very first arrival to the W—draft night, which was held back in April— Pili wore an elegant, custom gown from the brand AUTHMADE STADIUM, which was founded by Jason Vu in 2017. The brand has continued to redefine the intersection of fashion apparel and sports, and has created custom pieces for high-profile clients across hoops and entertainment, including Bad Bunny, Jayson Tatum and collaborations with NBA teams like the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets.

AUTHMADE STADIUM primarily focuses on streetwear, making the creation of the gown a first for Vu. And yet, he’s not one to shy away from a challenge, especially not one that includes weaving together elements of storytelling, purpose, and celebrating AAPI communities, into his work. Vu started the process by getting to know Pili personally through texts, Zoom sessions, and sharing inspiration pics and sketches, all while hearing more about her story and her connection to her roots.

“Being a Vietnamese immigrant of AAPI descent and just being in an industry where more representation is needed as a designer, I think the story compels me,” Vu told WSLAM.

For the draft, Pili specifically wanted to wear a piece that represented who she was and where she came from, and Vu’s attention to detail is what was key in creating a look that complimented Pili’s personal style.

“Having that tribal print incorporated into the look was something that was extremely important to Alissa. She also wanted to showcase her tribal tattoos that are on both her right leg and left shoulder so incorporating a slit and drop shoulder into the look helped compliment her body and accentuate her tattoos,” he says.

For Pili, the final product was perfect: “My dress for the WNBA draft was a representation of my Polynesian culture,” Pili says. “I wanted to incorporate where I come from, with pride, and designer Jason Vu did an amazing job taking my vision and creating a beautiful masterpiece.” 

Her draft night look was also the perfect introduction for W fans to get to know the rookie on a deeper level, all while paying homage to her community, family and upbringing. When asked what was most fulfilling, Vu echoes that exact sentiment. “[It was fulfilling] to be able to make a dress that not only she was proud of, but her family, her community in Alaska, and, the whole Polynesian community that follows her,” he says. 

For AUTHMADE STADIUM, this is just the beginning. The brand just launched a new collection in collaboration with the WNBA and the NBA, “So I Can Dream.”

Photo credit: On Time Agency & Minnesota Lynx, Jake Sorian.


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