Toronto tailor company designs suits for NBA draft prospects | Life


For the past three months, two Toronto tailors have been designing suits for four NBA prospects taking centre stage in the 2024 NBA draft tonight.

Nota Bene Bespoke, run by business partners Shana Uthaya and Trevis Villafana, is the company behind the suits worn by Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, Kansas’ Johnny Furphy, Kentucky’s Justin Edwards and Toronto’s own Zach Edey. 

Ahead of the NBA draft, the Star got a peek behind the magic of how the local tailor company created the suits for four players headed to the NBA. 

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Kyle Filipowski, flanked by the Nota Bene Bespoke tailors.

The NBA draft has become one of the most talked-about fashion events in sports. It’s where future stars get to make their mark and introduce themselves to the world while dressing to impress. 

Draft night fashion has gone down in history, from Raptors guard Gradey Dick making headlines last year for his “Wizard of Oz”-inspired red suit to LeBron James’ classic all-white outfit from 2003. 

Duke’s Kyle Filipowski and Kansas’ Johnny Furphy walk the red carpet at the 2024 NBA draft at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn tonight, wearing custom-made suits designed by Nota Bene Bespoke. Filipowski and Furphy received an invite to the NBA draft green room, where soon-to-be drafted players are invited with family to hear their name called by the NBA’s commissioner.

Furphy went for a royal blue, single-breasted peak lapel tuxedo with a James Bond-esque look, with a black bow tie. “Johnny Bond” is the nickname Uthaya and Villafana stamped for Furphy while designing his suit.

“I wanted to keep it simple, nothing too crazy, nothing in your face. The idea was sharp but calm,” Furphy told the Star.


Nota Bene Bespoke’s tailor Shana Uthaya shows the outline of Australia inside the suit of Johnny Furphy, who is from Melbourne. 

When brainstorming his look for draft night, Furphy, a 19-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, said he wanted to show love to his country. So the suit’s inner lining includes a map outline of Australia pinpointing Melbourne with a yellow star. It also pays homage to every Australian basketball player that has been drafted to the NBA. 

“There haven’t been many Australians in the position I am now,” said Furphy. “It’s cool to be a part of the small group of guys that have been in the same position.”


Johnny Furphy walks the red carpet before the 2024 NBA draft.

 The names of Australian NBA players including Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova and Mattise Thybulle are included in the suit’s lining. Adding to the growing list of Australian-drafted players, Furphy’s name is highlighted in green.

Every detail and every seam was carefully considered by the tailors. “We want the guys to be able to wear [these suits] a decade from now,” said Uthaya. “We put in extra fabric because your body won’t be the same 10 years from now.”

Duke’s Filipowski is wearing an emerald green suit with a floral pattern. It’s double-breasted and accented with gold buttons and a colourful paisley pocket square. The fabric on his suit is rare, a one-of-one Vitale Barberis Canonico textile made in 1663. 


The custom-made lining inside the suit of NBA prospect draft pick Kyle “Flip” Filipowski.

The inner lining of Filipowski’s suit has his nickname “Flip” repeated in silver on the left side, while on the right is an image of him hooping at Duke. His full last name is showcased on the back of the lining with the words “Welcome to the league.”

“What I love so much about it is that it’s very me,” said Filipowski. “It’s a little bit more than how I usually express myself but it’s not too much.”

The seven-foot man doesn’t often express himself through clothing, but for draft night, he thought it was important to come out of his comfort zone. “I think they did a tremendous job. They executed my vision perfectly and they were just trying to make me the most happiest I can be with it and most comfortable,” said Filipowski. “I never thought I could be so attached to a piece of clothing.”

When Filipowski saw the final version of his suit ahead of the draft, he couldn’t stop smiling. His partner got emotional seeing him in it. “Getting to this moment and her being such a focal point in getting here … it’s going to be a memory that I have and a very special one for me for the rest of my life,” said Filipowski.


Kyle Filipowski in his custom Nota Bene Bespoke suit on the NBA 2024 draft red carpet.

While he won’t be in New York, Kentucky’s Edwards went for a classy, timeless look for the draft. His suit is a custom deep black tuxedo made with a blend of 80 per cent silk and 20 per cent wool with silk sparkle on the top. The black pattern of Edward’s suit is known as jacquard, invented by the French textile artisan Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1804.

When Villafana met with Edwards at the NBA draft combine, the player had one ask for his suit: to find a way to honour his mother. A very family-oriented guy, Edwards grew up in a single-parent household with two younger siblings.

On Edwards’ inner lining, there is a photo of his mother hugging him from a photo shoot in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The lining also features the area code “215” as a shoutout to his hometown of Philly, and an action shot of him playing college basketball in Kentucky.

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Nota Bene Bespoke’s tailor Travis Villafana with the suit for NBA prospect draft pick Justin Edwards.

Edey is by far Nota Bene Bespoke’s largest client in stature. The seven-foot-four, 300-pound big man born and raised in Toronto received an invite to the NBA draft green room but instead decided to host a watch party with family, friends and teammates in Purdue, where he went to college. Edey is expected to wear the suit created by Nota Bene Bespoke for his first press conference with his new team after the draft.

Edey’s agent called the Toronto company to request a suit for the draft, and in late April, the tailors flew to Chicago to meet with Edey to brainstorm, present him with potential mock-ups and take measurements.

In the fitting process, Edey’s size left the tailors in awe. He had the longest wingspan they’d ever seen; his seven-foot-10 wingspan took up the room. The back of his jacket was about 35 inches; a typical suit would be about 10 inches shorter.

“I shook his hand and right away I was like, ‘Man, I gotta use a ladder. There’s no way we’re going to be able to do this,’” said Uthaya, who took about 30 measurements of Edey’s entire body. 

While doing the fitting, they chatted about college basketball and the ongoing Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar beef, and laughed about rivalries at the high schools they attended in Toronto. 

“He’s probably the biggest Canadian [athlete] in terms of size, to be drafted in the NBA. And he’s reached out to a small business in Toronto to do his look. That’s really important for us,” said Uthaya. 


Nota Bene Bespoke’s Toronto tailors Trevis Villafana (right) and Shana Uthaya with the custom-made suits they created for NBA draft prospect picks (left to right) Zach Edey, Johnny Furphy and Kyle “Flip” Filipowski.

Uthaya and Villafana have known each other since they were kids. Before becoming business partners, they grew up playing competitive soccer against each other. 

Uthaya started the business in 2011 while studying at McMaster University. For the first few years, his clientele consisted of friends and family who trusted his eye for fashion. Villafana was a bar manager at the time on Ossington and Uthaya would often stop by; they’d talk about the work he was doing growing his business. Villafana’s grandmother used to make wedding dresses so tailoring is in his blood, and he was interested in working with Uthaya. 

Soon, Villafana started helping Uthaya with styling and doing trade shows. Nota Bene means “attention” or “take notice” in Italian, and people certainly did. Their business grew as they started getting wedding referrals and clients on Bay Street, and word-of-mouth spread. That’s how the business manager for former Raptor Danny Green heard about them and soon they were fitting the 16-year NBA veteran during the Raptors championship season.

The sports world started to take notice of their work. Uthaya and Villafana went from childhood soccer rivals to eventually suiting up Brazilian soccer star Richarlison de Andrade, designing his suit ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. They’ve since worked with Jannik Sinner, the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world, Atiba Hutchinson from Canada soccer as well as NFL and NHL players.

But their tallest task was creating the perfect suit for Edey. His main request was to highlight two things: that he’s Canadian and Purdue, where he dominated college basketball, racking up almost every accolade possible.

After they met with Edey in Chicago, Filipowski, Furphy and Edwards also jumped on board as clients.

The Toronto tailors had about four weeks to make Edey’s suit come alive. There were a lot of sleepless nights, as they wanted it to be perfect. A week and a half before the NBA draft, they travelled back to Chicago to show Edey the final version: A custom-made black, double-breasted, peak lapel suit. The detailing has micro diamonds with a black sparkle; the fabric is from Loro Piana, one of the most luxurious mills in the world. There’s a silver crown design on some of the buttons. 

Measuring up Zach Edey, the Toronto-born NBA draft prospect who's taller than Shaq and wears size 20 shoes

The inner lining of the suit has the Purdue Boilermakers logo stamped across it, just as Edey requested. And if you look closely, the Canadian maple leaf is displayed in the design. 

When Edey put on his suit, he did a runway walk through his agency’s office in sunglasses, to cheers. Nota Bene Bespoke’s work was complete. 

“For two guys from Toronto — I’m from Scarborough, Trev’s from East York — to come in and be a part of such a big American event, not just one guy in the draft but four guys,” said Uthaya, “it’s meaningful.”

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