HOUSTON — When you’re Russell Westbrook, the undisputed king of NBA fashion, you don’t spend the offseason like a typical player.
The five-time All-Star passes his time designing clothes, perched on the front row for shows during New York Fashion Week or talking style and tennis with Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
“Sitting down and talking to Anna is very casual,” Westbrook said. “I think it’s important … when you get an opportunity to learn something different about somebody. Like I’m sitting down talking to Anna, she loves tennis which is something I didn’t know about her. And to be able to sit down and talk to her about different things — she didn’t know much about me in the basketball space so she had an opportunity to be able to talk about that.
“And as for fashion, I may ask her questions and throw different things at her that she may know about the fashion space,” Westbrook said.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder star prepared to launch a new capsule collection called True Religion X Russell Westbrook, which will be available exclusively on the True Religion app Sunday and online and in stores on Oct. 6, he took time to talk fashion with The Associated Press.
The 17-piece collection is very much a reflection of his style. It features skinny jeans, T-shirts and thermals meant for layering, with the rips and distressing that he has long incorporated into his wardrobe. The collection also has several pieces that include the “Why Not?” motto that is important to him, not just in fashion, but in life.
“It’s what I believe in and what got me to this point, including fashion and everything else, and it’s a motto that I stand by,” he said.
Westbrook’s arrival at Thunder games has been an event for years due to his parade of fabulous outfits. Many of his fashion-forward offerings have been hits, but there have certainly been a few misses. Not surprisingly, whether the reaction to his outfits is good, bad or indifferent, it doesn’t change how he feels about his gear.
And with a dizzying array of ensembles, it’s impossible for him to pick a favorite.
“Whatever I wear, I love it,” he said. “You’ve got to love it when you put it on.”
But has there ever been a time where he looked back at an outfit, like the widely panned Slayer/striped shirt ensemble he wore to a game in January, and thought: maybe that wasn’t such a good look?
“Nope,” he said sternly. “Never.”
Westbrook doesn’t care what others think about his look, and he’s passed on style advice to less-fashionable NBA players who have asked for help. But he isn’t exactly dishing out specific tips.
“Be themselves,” he said. “I think that’s the most important thing about fashion is to be able to express yourself, but also be yourself and be confident in what you’re wearing.”
Westbrook’s penchant for transforming his arena entrance into a high-fashion runway has undoubtedly upped the style game of players across the league. And it’s also seeped into both the NFL and MLB, where more players than ever now dare to push the fashion envelope.
Since Westbrook has dubbed himself “Fashion King” on social media, it’s only fair to ask his majesty who he’d deem the second-most fashionable man in the NBA. That title goes to a person who spent most of last season playing for the Beikong Fly Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association.
“Dorell Wright, he’s a great dresser,” Westbrook said of the NBA journeyman.
The 27-year-old Westbrook also shared what happens to all those pricey threads after he wears them one time. The answer is that he gives them away. But, no they aren’t all sitting in a forgotten corner of some Goodwill store in Oklahoma City (although a few things might be).
He does donate some select items to charity, but he mostly gifts them to friends and relatives after their debut.
“My friends make sure they grab them,” he said. “A lot of my friends put the bid in first while I wear it, they’ll be like: ‘Oh yeah I want that.'”
But this must be a tragic situation for Westbrook’s unlucky buddies who don’t share his 6-foot-3, 187-pound, muscle-bound frame.
“It’s funny,” he said. “They all wear the same size as me.”
Because of this, the competition is fierce to see who will snag his coolest outfits. Not that asking guarantees receiving.
“I know their style,” he said. “I know what they like to wear. So I’ll decide who gets what.”
And sometimes he has to be blunt and tell one of them they simply can’t pull off a certain look.
“I’ll be like: ‘No, this is not for you,'” he said.
All those eye-catching outfits make his fashion budget a subject of speculation. Last year, USA Today even did a story estimating it would cost nearly $300,000 to dress like Westbrook for an entire season.
He scoffed at that outlandish number.
“Never,” he said. “Nowhere close. Because I don’t even pay for a lot of my clothes anymore, so that’s not even possible.”
So just how much would it set one back to dress like the “Fashion King” for an 82-game NBA season?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I have no idea. But I don’t shop all high-end. I shop at Zara. I shop everywhere. I don’t binge, so it would never be that much.”