Shaquille O’Neal’s New Big and Tall Clothing Line Is Inspired by Barack Obama

By JILLIAN RUFFO, People

At over 7 feet tall, Shaquille O’Neal has never never had any trouble making baskets. But one challenge the sports legend has come across throughout most of his life has been shopping for clothing to fit his tall frame. Which is why now, he’s helping men everywhere get dressed a little bit easier with a new big & tall clothing line for JCPenney. His goal? To provide professional-looking attire for guys his size, all at a fair price (under $300!).

Below, Shaq explains his fashion struggles, what went into creating the collection of dress clothes (in sizes up to 6XL and 5XLT) and his surprising style inspiration.

Why did you want to team with JCPenney on this line?
As a tall guy, there aren’t many places for me to go shopping, and I wanted to partner with a retailer that understands the true essence of what being big and tall means. Some retailers offer big and not tall styles, while others offer tall but not big styles. JCPenney understands both so it seemed like a natural fit.

At over 7 feet tall, Shaquille O’Neal has never never had any trouble making baskets. But one challenge the sports legend has come across throughout most of his life has been shopping for clothing to fit his tall frame. Which is why now, he’s helping men everywhere get dressed a little bit easier with a new big & tall clothing line for JCPenney. His goal? To provide professional-looking attire for guys his size, all at a fair price (under $300!).

Below, Shaq explains his fashion struggles, what went into creating the collection of dress clothes (in sizes up to 6XL and 5XLT) and his surprising style inspiration.

Why did you want to team with JCPenney on this line?
As a tall guy, there aren’t many places for me to go shopping, and I wanted to partner with a retailer that understands the true essence of what being big and tall means. Some retailers offer big and not tall styles, while others offer tall but not big styles. JCPenney understands both so it seemed like a natural fit.

How hands on were you in the design process?
I collaborated with the JCPenney design team to create styles that look great on big and tall guys and fit comfortably. When it came to the technical stuff, I let the team do their thing. It’s a fun process, especially with a team like JCPenney that understands the big and tall customer.

How would you describe your style in your own words?
I’m always dressed up like I’m going to a corporate meeting. I like to be ready in a suit that has nice, simple colors but a little flair whether it is with a cool fabric or pattern. My life is based on work, play and family. When I go to work I dress in my corporate style, wearing my Shaquille O’Neal XLG, but when I play and am around my family I like to be relaxed in a t-shirt and shorts.

Who’s style do you admire right now?
My style icon is Barack Obama. He always looks ready for anything in his “corporate meeting” style. I wanted to create a collection that helps big and tall guys channel that look and confidence!

What do you hope this range brings to the consumer?
Confidence and comfort! I’ve tried on clothes that sometimes aren’t wide enough or long enough. This collection is unique because it’s affordable (suit separates, dress shirts, ties and belts, all under $300) and has the styles the “little guys” wear. Big and tall guys want to dress sexy too!

What’s the most valuable item in your closet?
My championship rings. Each ring represents not only an accomplishment but a special time in my life. My teammates and I made some great memories and having reminders of them is priceless.

How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
Way too many to count! I have a big sneaker collection. I restock them every few months but never throw them away. I’d donate them if I could, but since all my shoes are custom-sized, it’s hard to find an organization that has a need for them. Any takers?

You have tons of friends and colleagues who have launched their own lines. Did you get advice on designing from her or any other pal?
When doing research my XLG collection, I looked to my big and tall friends for inspiration. It was important for me to hear from guys who have had similar challenges when trying to find suits that look and feel great. In true form, what I’ve created is unique to me. I made sure to Shaq it up.

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