“And that’s why a stylist, for me, is just a waste of money,” Westbrook says. “It would take away from my creative side. And the most important thing about fashion is being creative and being able to have your own ideas.” As a professional basketball player in the 2010s, one of the things you have to do is decide whether you’re going to hire a stylist to make your fashion choices for you. If you want to keep up in a league that’s gotten serious about clothes—and you’re not Westbrook—it’s wise to seek professional help. “Sometimes you can tell who stylists are working with, because a lot of guys will start dressing the same. But I don’t pay much mind either way.”
At Barneys, I watch him recite his varying sizes for several different brands (without consulting an Excel spreadsheet or anything). He has recall for specific outfits—again, he aims to never wear the same combination of clothes more than once—in much the same way basketball players can recall a given play from years before. And he’s always on the lookout for statement pieces that he can parcel out through the season (instantly relegating those he’s worn to the giveaway pile). When he can, he makes a point to squeeze in front-row appearances at Fashion Weeks. New York. Milan. Paris. “I like making sure I’m there, because a lot of that stuff on the runways never makes it to the stores,” he says. “And I’m able to see, like, different colors, how they go together, different color palettes, different fabrics, how they go with each other, how they link, how they flow, how they look on people.”
How did your relationship with Puma begin? Clyde Frazier: Well back then players didn’t get paid to wear shoes. You got free shoes, but they didn’t pay you. So they offered me money to wear them, but when they first came to me they had the “Basket,” which was leather, heavy, and stiff. I told them you can’t pay me enough to wear this. So they said that I could help them design the new one. How did you develop the Clyde, then? Clyde Frazier: At that time they had just come out with the Puma Suede, and I told them to make it lighter and more flexible.
Have you always had your clothes custom made? Was there ever a point where you’ve bought clothes from designer brands? Clyde Frazier: Well, being big and tall has been frustrating. I found once I could get it made, I didn’t have to be disappointed as much.
A lot of the guys in the NBA now wear designer clothes. Have you ever thought about asking them for their big and tall sources? Clyde Frazier: I wouldn’t wear those because of the colors. I like mixing unusual combinations of colors and patterns that people wouldn’t normally put together. When I go shopping, I ask the guy, “Show me something you think no one would wear.” A lot of the guys now don’t have my expertise. I’ve been in New York for 40 years. This is the mecca for fashion.
Allen Iverson: I was always the type of player that felt like, “You play like you look, and you look like you play.” I always cared about how I looked out on the basketball court. And I cared about matching. I used to give them a hard time when I went to Denver, if the blue didn’t match the blue, or the yellow didn’t match the yellow in the shoe. I’d have a problem all the time. Now, it’s a new wave. Basically, a guy can have a green uniform, and then have red shoes on. That’s the style now, but back then, for me, it was about matching everything up. Then, when they gave me the [All-Star] shoe, and it didn’t match the uniform, I had a problem with it. [laughs]