Tailor Carlton Dixon’s vision is outfitting Basketball Hall of Famers
Founder of Reveal Suits went from college hooper to creating personalized suit jackets for his heroes
DALLAS — The idea that changed Carlton Dixon’s life popped into his head nearly a decade ago when he watched Boston Celtics first-round pick Marcus Smart walk across the stage, open his navy-blue jacket, and pay homage to his high school, college and childhood friend.
By the end of 2014, the former University of Texas basketball player had quit his job as a coach and athletic director at North Dallas High School and founded Reveal Suits, which specializes in suit jackets personalized with officially licensed linings.
“I had a vision, and that vision just wouldn’t go away,” Dixon, 47, said. “I had to go for it.”
These days, Reveal Suits has licenses for more than 90 Division I colleges and universities, four bowl games, three conferences, the NFL Alumni Association, Big 12 Conference and the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 includes former players Pau Gasol, Becky Hammon, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade. Coaches Gene Bess, Gary Blair, David Hixon, Gene Keady, Gregg Popovich, Jim Valvano and the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will also be inducted. The enshrinement ceremony will be held Saturday in Springfield, Massachusetts. Dixon will present each inductee a new jacket Friday night at the Tip-off Celebration and Awards Gala at the Mohegan Sun Casino Hotel in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Not bad for a dude who didn’t know how to take a measurement, read a pattern or sew a stitch before creating Reveal Suits.
Dixon used a black jacket and copy paper in his suburban Dallas home to create the concept. He cut paper into different sizes and placed them on the jacket’s lining, experimenting with how large, tall, and far apart the logos needed to be.
That jacket has been framed and hung on a wall in his home. Reveal Suits is limited only by its clients’ creativity.
“We’ve got enough sizzle that clients see the value. It’s cool when that light bulb goes off, and people realize they can do anything,” Dixon said. “I’m a gamer. I’ve made mistakes and taken my lumps. I did a group of female suits for about 50 young ladies from LSU using a male pattern, which didn’t work, and I just had to take it.”
Three years ago, Dixon said the Hall of Fame inquired about modernizing its jackets. A big part of that process was finding the perfect shade of orange from 10 samples. The new jackets are tapered with a slightly thinner lapel.
Once the Hall of Fame settled on Naismith Orange, Dixon and his staff obtained the players’ measurements and scoured the internet for photos. Once the players approved the logos and pictures, the process began.
Tim Hardaway, a 2022 inductee, had logos for Carver High School in Chicago, the University of Texas-El Paso, the Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat.
“Man, I was ecstatic when they gave us this option,” Hardaway said. “Now, I could put the people in my jacket who were the most influential to me and kept my head straight.
“I gave them a bunch of stuff, and they put it on the inside of my jacket. I didn’t even know they could do that. It was beautiful.”
Gasol’s lining included 10 photos, the most of any player, besides the logos. Former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wanted logos for Duke, USA Basketball, and Army on his lining. He wanted Duke’s logo to be the most prominent.
Nancy Lieberman, a member of the 1976 women’s Olympic team, included logos from the Olympic team, Phoenix Mercury, Old Dominion, and the Big 3.
“This honor doesn’t belong to me,” Lieberman said. “This is for everyone who empowered my journey. It’s not totally mine. It’s nice to be able to thank my Old Dominion teammates and others for allowing me to be something I didn’t know I could be.”
Nowitzki used four logos: two from the Dallas Mavericks, his hometown team in Germany, and personal coach Holger Geschwindner’s basketball school.
“I guess we shouldn’t be surprised Dirk was low-key,” Dixon said.
A week before the Hall of Fame ceremony, the jackets arrived at Dixon’s corporate headquarters, a yellow warehouse in the trendy Deep Ellum section of Dallas, where gentrification has replaced tattoo parlors with restaurants that sell high-priced cocktails with fancy names and craft beer.
Deep Ellum is a couple of miles from the South Dallas neighborhood where Dixon grew up. South Dallas is home to the Cotton Bowl, where Texas and Oklahoma battle for Big 12 supremacy during the Texas State Fair. It’s a place where hope is as scarce as nets on the basketball goals at neighborhood parks.
Dixon, though, still grabs a burger or pizza from Blackjack Pizza once a week and a humongous grilled chicken salad from Big Daddy Convenience Store when he needs a taste of home.
“It’s an industrial-type vibe. You’re not walking into a fancy showroom,” he said of the warehouse. “This fits me, and it’s across the freeway from the crib — South Dallas — and that’s special to me.”
Dixon starred at Lincoln High School in Dallas, the same school that produced 2021 inductee Chris Bosh. He’s known Bosh since the Hall of Fame player was a high school junior.
Dixon became a defensive specialist at Texas and wanted to coach high school basketball. These days, he designs suit jackets for many of the NBA players — Julius Erving, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Alonzo Mourning — he idolized as a kid.
When the jackets arrived, Dixon inspected them individually before placing them on one of two metal racks. The Hall of Fame requested measurements from each of its members.
Ninety responded, and will receive new jackets. Those who don’t attend will have their personalized jackets shipped to them. The Hall of Fame intends to provide all of the living inductees new jackets before the 2024 induction ceremonies.
Holding Kobe Bryant’s jacket stirred up Dixon’s emotions.
“This is Kobe Bryant. When it came in, I held that thing for about a minute. I couldn’t stop looking at it,” Dixon said. “I couldn’t stop holding it. He never cheated on the game. He was an assassin, a killer on the court.
“It was surreal working on Kobe’s jacket. He’s a legend. Arguably one of the Top 5 players ever. You add the emotion with his and Gigi’s passing, and I couldn‘t believe we were doing it.”
Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in 2020. The Hall of Fame presented a jacket to his wife, Vanessa, at his induction ceremony in 2021.
The framed jacket the Hall of Fame will ship to Vanessa has a personalized lining with logos from USA Basketball, Lower Merion High School and the Los Angeles Lakers as well as photos, which the other jacket doesn’t have.
“We did it as a gesture because of what he meant to me and the game,” Dixon said.
Dixon expressed similar emotions about the players he idolized as a kid.
“For the older guys, it was the cats I watched as a kid. Dr. J, George Gervin,” he said. “Larry Bird. I’m tripping. Pinch me. I’m sitting here waiting on Larry Bird’s sizes.”