NBA Playoffs Let Players’ Style Shine
Paris, Milan…Staples Center? Believe it, because this week, menswear is going to be a major focus of the NBA Playoffs. Today more than ever before, the focus is on what players are wearing just as much as what they’re doing on the court. Now, standing out is the norm in the world of NBA fashion, where athletes such as Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook have been gaining a reputation for peacocking during press interviews and wearing designer duds when they’re spotted between games. Wade caused a stir in 2009 when he showed up to All-Star Weekend wearing slim, European cut suits, bow ties and loud accessories.
“We were doing our own little thing,” Calyann Barnett, Wade’s stylist since 2007, said. “I got all these angry comments, like, ‘What are you doing? Why are you putting a basketball player in these looks?’ It was crazy because, to me, it’s not what you do, it’s who you are, and your style is supposed to portray your passion. Dwyane and I ended up working together because I was so different, and he was looking for that.”
That personal style has nabbed Wade partnerships with brands such as Southern California’s Stance Socks and menswear favorite The Tie Bar. The Dwayne Wade for the Tie Bar Collection, which includes cufflinks, pocket squares and bow ties in addition to traditional ties, is bright and colorful, incorporating camo, plaids and stripes, mosaic prints, polka dots and more. The collection has become a celebrity favorite and garnered praise from GQ and menswear fans alike.
“During the playoffs, every game is televised;” said Wade when asked about his personal style. “The cameras are on you from the second you walk off the bus to when you walk back on it.”
Wade, along with fellow athletes such as Amar’e Stoudemire and more, have become front row staples during New York Fashion Week. Stoudemire even designed a capsule collection in 2011 for Rachel Roy’s diffusion line, Rachel Rachel Roy, that he described as “courtside apparel for the fashion-forward female.” But the NBA Playoffs have an audience that reaches more than just street style photographers at Fashion Week. The stage is huge for the guys of the NBA to bring out their best style moves before tip off.
Stephen Curry isn’t as brash or bold as Dwayne Wade, preferring to dress in classic tailoring, three-piece suits and vests, but that classic look has also earned the attention of fashion fans. The playoffs are an opportunity for players to showcase the latest menswear trends and wear looks straight off the runway.
“Each night is a huge game and an opportunity to dress it out,” said Curry.
Going all out means adding unique touches to menswear classics, such as Wade’s love of bright socks and lapel flowers or Curry’s penchant for mixing colors and patterns. Guys are even wearing bright glasses, loud, patterned shirts and colored pants to press conferences before the games. Wade and LeBron James made waves when they wore colored glasses frames and man bags to an event in 2012. Today, one of the NBA’s brashest dressers is Russell Westbrook, who was snapped wearing bright red frames and his signature patterned shirts, which run the gamut from primary-color mosaic prints to illustrations and Lacoste shirts printed with fish hooks. His unique style and eccentric taste has led to a deal with men’s underwear line Kings & Jaxs.
“Russell is very creativeon the court and off the court,” said Jhoanna Alba, Westbrook’s stylist. “He’s hands-on; he looks at fabrics, feels them; he’s part of the process. If there’s something that he likes and he sees, he’ll make it happen.”
This weekend, expect to see players in everything from bright, go-to-hell pants and patterned shirts to traditional sartorial suits (we’re hoping for a Prada Hawaiian-print appearance). Last year, Wade stated that he had a different theme for every round. That meant he rotated between pieces from Dsquared2, Calvin Klein, Gucci and Versace for each playoff game. For this year, it’s reported that he’s gotted pieces from under the radar lines such as Jilien David and Lou Dalton as well as bigger brands such as Jil Sander, Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang.
But it’s not all about name brands, because for a player such as Stephen Curry, who doesn’t employ a stylist — sticking to classics is what it’s all about. Reports say he might pull out a fedora or two over the course of the playoffs, a style move that his wife (and stylist) loves.
“She’s the brains behind it all,” Curry said. “She’s my in-house stylistalong with her best friend, Sheraine. They get together and get me right for the year, especially the playoffs.”