After spending time in New York for the shows, how does fashion differ in NYC and Memphis? I live nine months in Memphis and then off-season in Columbus, Ohio, where there aren’t even high-end department stores nearby. [My wife] Mary was actually joking that H&M was just coming to Columbus this summer, which tells you that the ability to dress to your individual taste is kind of difficult. I have a stylist, so that helps keep me fashion-forward, but most of the time I can really just go around town in my Grizzlies gear and fit right in! That’s what made [New York Fashion Week: Men’s] so fun—I finally had a reason to push the limits with fashion!
There’s one front row fixture at Paris Fashion Week that you never want to sit behind: Amar’e Stoudemire. He’s 6′ 10″ and has a penchant for big hats. He’s also a six-time NBA All-Star and a fashion fanatic with a keen eye and the ability to add just the right amount of American swagger to the high-end designer ensembles he collects. That’s why we asked him to share his personal photos and unique reviews of some recent Paris runway shows with us. It just made sense. When you’re that tall and famous, you’ve always got the best seat in the house. On Rick Owens: “Owens was one of the most interesting shows of the week—simply remarkable. His inspiration was the military M-65 field jacket. The fabric he uses for his shirts are light and I personally love his easy-to-wear clothing. Not to mention the shoes. They look like some sort of boot-sandal combination. Love them. His show was the most interesting because one of the models pulled out a sign that wasn’t planned. It read “Please Kill Angela Merkel Not.” I was so surprised. That was the talk of the show.”
First basketball players moved from eight-button zoot suits to the boardroom attire of Michael Jordan. Then a generation of players from the early 2000s had survived the rapper, gangsta, slovenly-spoiled-rich-kid aesthetic. Now, the door had opened on the progressive sensibility of players such as Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook. Today’s basketball-playing young millionaires have on their own — or, for some, with an assist from the experts — developed a style that is artfully advanced and a touch competitive, but, most notably, body-conscious. “They’re all their own specific kind of dandy or peacock,” said Brian Coats, contributing fashion editor at GQ, who has styled a host of athletes — including Jeremy Lin, Chris Paul and LeBron James — for the magazine. “They all want to be a little dressier than their competition. “It’s so refreshing not to see them in the eight-button suit [jacket] down to their knees,” Coats said. “No one’s jacket needs to be that long unless you’re Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
Wade, said Wilbon, “has now gone a little extreme, of course. I’m of a certain age where I like suits and ties. But I like that Wade has led this envelope-pushing, even if it includes, well, pedal pushers or Capri pants or whatever I’m supposed to call what he wore last week. “I’m okay with guys having a totally updated sense of style that can only be worn by 20-35-year-old men. I don’t know that it sets the style anymore,” Wilbon continued in an e-mail. “I wonder if they’re trendsetters or trend followers.”
Much of the attention players now pay to personal style began after the NBA instituted its dress code in 2005. That code essentially forced athletes into a more polished, business-casual mold whenever they are on team or league business. It prohibits shorts and tank tops, for instance, along with chains and medallions, and forced some players to revamp their wardrobe. At the time, Britto was working with both Latrell Sprewell and Stephon Marbury. “While some of the players didn’t agree with [the new rules], I went to Ozwald Boateng and a couple of designers in New York, Ron & Ron. Latrell commissioned upward of $350,000 in suits from Ron & Ron,” Britto said. “You had guys wanting to have the personality they played with on the court reflected in their personal style.”
One of the favorite labels among well-dressed NBA players is Tom Ford International. The former Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent creative director launched his own menswear line in 2006. The collection was breathtakingly expensive and beautifully rendered. It also had been developed by a designer who understood power and sex appeal in glamorous, cinematic terms. And Ford, one of fashion’s savviest businessmen, also created a line that fit real men — really, really wealthy men. Chandler loves it. The Miami Heat’s LeBron James wears it. So does Wade, among others. “The fit is a larger shoulder and a smaller waist. You can get a 64-long jacket,” Barnett says — and by the way, that’s in Italian sizing. Basketball players are tall, but they’re not Brobdingnagian. “The pants tend to be longer; there’s more room in the leg area; and it allows them to stand out. And it’s exclusive; not everyone can afford Tom Ford.” No, they absolutely cannot. Made-to-measure suits start at $5,000.