Written and Photographed by Chloe Leung
Whether we know it or not, sports and fashion have relatively always had a big influence on each other. Not only has the fashion industry taken inspiration from what athletes wear, thus creating athleisure and sportswear, but athletes early on have always incorporated fashion into their own individual lives and careers. From spicing up their uniforms with unique articles of clothing and accessories, to showing up to meets, matches, and games in decked-out outfits, athletes all over have been expressing their individuality through fashion both on, and off the field.
Growing up in a predominantly sports driven town, I followed in the footsteps of playing sports, like everyone else around me. Field Hockey? Check. Basketball? Check. Softball? Check. With experience from being on multiple different sport teams, there was one word I once used to describe sports culture as a whole: conformity. Everyone had the same goals on the team, everyone dressed the same at games, and it seemed as though everyone even functioned the same. That was, until I took in the details of those around me, including myself. It all came down to spirit days. For every single home game, athletes were expected to dress in formal attire. There weren’t any specifics on what you had to wear. You had free reign as long as it looked “formal,” aka not jeans and a t-shirt, or sweats and a hoodie. The fashion sense between members on the team ranged drastically on spirit days, and that’s where I began to identify the shifts in individual personalities.
Within the past few years, the NBA has been categorized as one of the most fashion forward professional sports leagues. From the crazy customized sneakers on the court, to what designer outfits people walk through the tunnel in, I began to notice just how much athletes differentiate themselves through what they wear. Unless people decided to roll up to games in their uniforms (which was highly unlikely) almost everyone always rocked outfits that spoke to their individuality. I took the idea of fashion and individualism, and decided to apply it closer to home.
I decided to team up with athletes from Emerson College’s Men’s Basketball team, to see how they express their individuality through fashion. Focusing on the trend of basketball players being fashionable athletes, I decided to take inspiration from traditional media-day photoshoots, and transformed the concept into what I called the “Off-Duty” photoshoot. I pulled four members from the basketball team, Sophomores, Zach Waterhouse, Trevor McLean, and Seif Nabulsi, and Junior Jaelen Ogadhoh, for a photoshoot to showcase how each of their styles differentiate from each other.
Nabulsi, the 19-year-old forward on the basketball team, admits that he’s generally a laid back person and likes to reflect that through his style and clothes. “I dress pretty comfortably and care more about feeling good in what I wear rather than impressing people.” Nabulsi agreed that the intersection between sports and fashion is pretty significant. He looks up to professional players like Kelly Oubre on the Phoenix Suns, Russell Westbrook on the Houston Rockets, and D’angelo Russell on Golden State Warriors, all who have been previously crowned by GQ magazine as some of the most fashionable NBA players. The reason Nabulsi looks up to them isn’t just for their fashion sense, but because of how they make bold statements and express themselves through their clothes. “Sports culture has also been heavily influenced by hip-hop fashion, and street culture, which many players can identify with. The intersection between both is kind of creates that individuality for each person and player,” he states.
Sports and fashion culture look to me like they’ll continue to be codependent on each other for years and years to come. With our ever-changing creative industries, it’ll be exciting to see how athletes in the near future will continue to express themselves through the lens of fashion, as different trends come and go.
Models: Seif Nabulsi(top left), Jaelen Ogadhoh, Trevor McLean, Zach Waterhouse