SBD/June 15, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

From The Court To The Catwalk: NBA Players Making Fashion Statements

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Players sporting eyeglasses have been prominent at NBA Playoffs press conferences
Heat F LeBron James, Thunder F Kevin Durant and “many other superstars in the NBA playoffs have found a novel way to accessorize their bespoke suits: thick-rimmed, chunky, ostentatious eyeglasses,” according to Cacciola & Cohen of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. For many NBAers, the eyewear is “purely a fashion statement,” as Thunder G Russell Westbrook "admits that his lenses are nonprescription" and Heat G Dwyane Wade has “gone so far as to wear glasses without glass in them as fashion models are sometimes known to do.” With a “few exceptions, those who do need corrective eyewear prefer contact lenses.” But after the games, “out come the high-end frames that can go for $500.” Many Heat and Thunder players are "flaunting the latest in designer eyewear at the NBA Finals." Some of Westbrook's frames are from "designers like Barton Perreira, Mykita and Thom Browne.” Durant “has a pair from Nike, one of his sponsors.” Fashion is “very much on the minds” of Wade and James, both of whom “employ stylists.” After Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade “showed off frames crafted by Edward Beiner, the proprietor of 11 eyewear stores in Florida.” The front of the frames was “dark tortoise shell, but the color at the back changed to translucent blue, which matched Mr. Wade's sky-blue blazer.” Beiner said that he “customized the glasses with that particular jacket in mind” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/15).

STRUT YOUR STUFF: In N.Y., Tom Spousta writes the NBA Finals "postgame stage doubles as a runway of sorts for competing geek-chic styles that have become the rage in a league that was put under a dress code in 2005.” After Game One of the NBA Finals, all of the players “broke out the lensless eyeglass frames” and, except for Westbrook, all “included matching pocket squares.” Spousta: “To a man, they agreed they were not trying to make a cultural statement” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/15). USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt writes NBA fashion “extends beyond the glasses, from Westbrook’s wild, nautical-themed shirts to Wade’s pink pants with accoutrements such as a pink finger bandage and pink-soled sneakers.” Washington State Univ. professor David Leonard said that fashion choices “must be seen through the prism of the NBA’s dress code.” Leonard: “(In) the ways in which we are seeing players confirm to the dress code while also asserting their owner style and identity.” He added the dress code “reflects a particular anxiety that fans, the media and the league have had about what NBA players represent and questions about hip-hop and the way race is wrapped up in these discussions.” Westbrook said, “I’ve just got a style of my own, and I’m going to keep it that way” (USA TODAY, 6/15).
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