Category Archives: personal style

2011 NBA Draft Style Analysis: The Suits Finally Fit and Kemba is King

The 2011 installment of the NBA Draft was not given the opportunity to be great. Madison Square Garden, the usual host for festivities, is under renovation so the hopeful rookies had to travel across the Hudson River to Newark and walk the stage at Prudential Center. Bloggers and basketball pundits dismissed the next class of NBA talent as bottom tier. Also, with a lockout looming – will these young men ever see playing time? In 2003, LeBron James’ oversized white ensemble was better suited for a pimp and not the first overall draft pick. His personal style has evolved thanks in part to the dress code, maturity and careful image management. The NBA instituted the dress code in 2005 and it came at the perfect time as menswear was moving towards to the skinny suit and tailored styles thanks to Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme. Fitted or “European” styles began dominating locker rooms along with luxury sneakers and Louis Vuitton everything. Braids began disappearing as Carmelo Anthony shaved his off and Kobe Bryant switched from jerseys pre-game to suits. Players no longer wanted to look like Allen Iverson but now Kanye West’s fashion forward style evolution was to be mimicked. This year’s draft class may not have hit the perfect style notes but it’s clear that with the help of stylists, the new kids are learning how important fit is in a suit. Gone are the days of the LeBron white suit or Jalen Rose’s infamous red atrocity. Without further ado, here’s the best, worst and downright average style grades for the 2011 NBA draft class. It should come as no surprise that a New York kid wins my award for best dressed. Kemba Walker won my respect and fashion gold star last night because he wore a suit that was not only perfectly cut for his body type but because he was able to still let his personal style shine through. Last year, Wesley Johnson’s plaid pants and double-breasted ensemble may have been sartorially inclined but it looked like the outfit wore him, not the other way around. Walker looked both comfortable and cool in the single breasted blue-grey suit. The peaked lapels were in proportion with his shoulders and the jacket was modern without being fussy. Walker was already on my radar for his understated, well-fitting suit at Connecticut’s visit with President Obama after winning the NCAA National Championship. His big heart and great speaking skills makes him a complete player off the court as well – he’s a marketing dream. In fact, he already has endorsement deals in place with Axe and Best Buy without the elusive title of being the number one draft pick. Walker’s accessory choices elevated his look from above average to exquisite. The pocket square in beige with a pink hue picked up the rose gold outsole of his two-tone shoes. The tie bar kept his look clean but added some visual interest on his thin, patterned tie. Even his belt was a leather with a pink undertone to tie it all together. Fellas, when I say the items of your outfit don’t have to match but they have to go, I’m talking about putting an ensemble together like Walker’s. The hues (underlying color) are all in the same family – blue in the primary items and pink in the accessories. Since the colors are all related, they work in harmony. I’m excited to see what Walker brings to Charlotte off the court. According to my favorite Bobcats’ source, Ben Swanson (a.k.a. CardboardGerald), the rookie came to the press conference dressed to impress in Louis Vuitton sneakers. Kemba Walker, you’re on my fashion radar. He’s my early pick for style rookie for the season….if we get a season.

Walker’s swag dominated the night but credit has to be given both to my Canadian countryman Tristan Thompson, as well as Marshon Brooks for sporting full ensembles not just a suit. Thompson (and his personal shopper) found a suit that managed to fit him perfectly without looking snug in the shoulders or short in the sleeves – an issue for a player with a seven feet, two-inch wingspan.The polka dot tie contrasts with the pink tone in the shirt and the paisley pocket square ties it all together.His rose gold watch face is the right shade for his skin tone and the leather watch strap and shoes are the perfect complimentary shade of warm saddle brown – this is how to wear black and brown together. It certainly looked like Thompson dressed to best match his new Cavaliers cap – think he knew something the media didn’t?

In every draft class, there seems to be one player that calls dibs on the bow tie and tries to make it work for him. This year, Marshon Brooks took the honor. The last time a bow tie was worn properly was when James Harden sported his cream ensemble and has since had the neck accessory a signature. Brooks seems to be following Harden’s sartorial example. Brooks was originally drafted by the Celtics before being moved to the Nets, sported another bow tie at his introductory press conference in Newark. For draft night, his two piece grey suit fit in the shoulders and the sleeve length was fine although it could be taken in more in the torso and in arm width to remove some of the bulk – the ill fit was made obvious when he stood up to meet Commissioner Stern. Besides the technical suiting issues, the patterned shirt mixed with the neutral grey suit really make the bow tie the star to the outfit. A good tactic to draw attention up to Brooks’ face and away from the terrible adidas draft caps.

The number one pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was Kyrie Irving out of Duke University and the only thing that streamed first overall about his outfit was his timepiece.Besides the impressive watch, the rest of ensemble was average – decent fitting jacket and shirt, pants could be tailored and the tie was too skinny and poorly knotted. Hopefully fellow rookie Tristan Thompson and veteran NBA fashion plate Baron Davis can help their new teammate take some risks this season.

Speaking of sartorial risks, Kawhi Leonard went for preppy throwback look with white piping on black two button suit. When I originally saw this suit, I immediately thought he belonged on a yacht or perhaps parking cars at the yacht club. The buttons are a bit distracting and the pocket square seems like an afterthought but the piping has grown on me. Keeping the shirt and tie relatively neutral was a smart move so it didn’t distract from the jacket. The fit is decent, but as with many of these young men, the sleeve could be slimmed down. A pop of color or sheen in the pocket square could have upgraded the look and he might want to re-think the braids – no one should take manscaping cues from Udonis Haslem.

Pocket squares have become the new accessory of choice for NBA draftees in recent years and this year, some players either didn’t put enough thought into them (Leonard) or tried too damn hard. It’s important to remember that for these young men, most of their interviews will head and shoulder shots so the pocket square will be shown and having one that looks like a used tissue stuffed in your pocket looks sloppy. The Morris brothers were a great story of the draft, twins going one right after another to different cities for the first time in their young lives. But they had me crying foul all over Twitter as with the pocket square, bigger is not necessarily better as you have a limited space to display your accessory.

Markieff Morris, the slightly older twin and the first to be drafted, thirteenth overall to the Suns, wore a pinstripe suite that looked be right off the rack and ill-fitting on his massive frame. The jacket is too long, the shoulder are bunching and sleeves and pants must be taken in. Also, on a large man a three-piece suit adds bulk, he should have gone for a sleeker silhouette. As for the pocket square, it looks like he found some iridescent Kleenex and stuffed it in his pocket. The fact that you actually see a bulge from the access fabric in the jacket is a terrible look. Remember, it’s a square, not a scarf. While we’re on accessories, white watches, like white sunglasses, often just look cheap and it does not work with his outfit at all.

Marcus Morris, the younger brother by seven minutes, was drafted next to another Western Conference team, the Houston Rockets. Marcus, followed suit almost literally with a pinstripe three-piece suit in black that was looked to fit in the shoulders but not so well elsewhere. Not to be outdone by his brother, upped the pocket square ante as his almost reached his tie knot – far too large. I’m all for flair but the pocket square took over his entire outfit and you became distracted by his accessory and not listen to what the newly minted rookie had to say. Also, if you look the Morris’ brothers wore similar shirt and ties. The best moment from the twin’s draft came from their interview with their mother, who was also in a pinstripe suit, who said she wouldn’t wear either of the adidas draft caps – smart woman.

As for the rest of the draft class, it was nice to see the players put some effort into their attire, the recent explosion of athlete stylists are certainly helping keep the players current. Derrick Williams tried to work with a skinny suit silhouette but didn’t make it. The tailoring was fine but the tie knot didn’t work with the shirt or the tie width. The bright red tie was a nice burst of color, but some more texture would have really made Williams stand out.

Jimmer Fredette came into the draft with plenty of hype thanks to his ridiculous NCAA campaign. While Fredette’s stock dropped a touch on concerns over lack of defensive fundamentals and size, his fashion game could probably use a return to basics. His jacket hit in the wrong spot and Fredette looked like he was sporting a pot belly. The stance on his jacket was a touch high and the cut made him look boxier. Dressing in BYU blue (navy suit, blue tie, blue shirt, blue watch) was a nice nod to his alumna matter but it came off a little dull. Fredette is more modest than most NBA rookies but his giant timepiece and rapping brother give the impression that the young man from upstate New York wants to take a few more risks.

Finally, I have to give points to Jonas Valanciunas, my hometown Toronto Raptors fifth overall draft pick. Most Raptors picks were hoping that local hero Tristan Thompson would have his homecoming on the Air Canada Centre court, but as usual the Raptors went European. Valanciunas went for subtle but well-tailored. The olive-green tie and pattern mixing with a different pocket square elevated the look from basic to interesting. The sleeve length was also on point so kudos to the unknown centre. I’m sure he’ll be a frequent visitor to Yorkville this season, Toronto’s high-end shopping neighbourhood soon.

Overall, this year’s draft class was an improvement over last year’s. The new crop of NBA rookies need to continue to practice and perfect the art of fit and how to dress their frames. Hopefully they’ll start taking more risks and find their own personal style among the NBA trends and Louis Vuitton littered locker rooms. Good luck gentlemen and welcome to the big leagues.

Photos courtesy of ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports and NBA.com.

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James Harden: Most Fashionable Man-Child

James Harden is only twenty-one, just old enough to buy alcohol legally in the United States. Harden is proving his worth for the Thunder these playoffs, averaging eleven points a game and shooting almost forty-one percent from the field. Harden is providing a spark for his teammates off the bench, but NBA fans are more enamoured with his unique manscaping and style. The member of the Thunders’ Broingtons always stands outs among the usual NBA off-court uniform of dark, ill-fitting suits or head to toe Gucci ensembles. For the post-season, the Los Angeles native kept his full beard and shaved his hair into a mini mohawk. The hairstyle speaks to Harden’s quirky California personal style and boyish charm.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to Toronto earlier in the season, I chatted with the sophomore shooting guard about his infamous beard and personal style. The beard discussion was posted on The Basketball Jones but Harden and I got to talking fashion and sneakers, too.

Credit: Slam Magazine

Harden defines his style as very LA, which to him means “flannels, little t-shirts, [Nike] Dunks, varsity jackets, stuff like that”. While being a LA native, the west coast kid doesn’t think he has a specific personal style code. If he sees some nice clothes, he buys them – one of the luxuries of having an NBA salary. “I wear a lot of [Nike] Dunk’s, cartoon shirts, varsity jackets”. Harden’s love of cartoon shirts is something that’s caught my eye since he was in college. It’s not a look that’s very popular on the east coast but for Harden, the cartoon shirts started because it’s all about the shoes, “I get shirts to match my dunks. They got a store [in LA] called Hot Topic and they have a lot of cartoon shirts there..it’s just about being from LA”.

Credit: Getty Images/SI.com

Harden’s other style signature is the bow tie. It started at the NBA Draft with Harden’s statement making outfit.. He wore a cream colored vest, pants, a striped shirt, a tan sport coat, a diamond encrusted watch and a burgundy patterned bow tie. While it was a lot of look, Harden just wanted to wear something different, “I don’t think I thought about it…With the bow tie, I have a lot of them now….it’s different, unique [my style] just comes natural, not something I try to do.” Since the night he joined the Thunder, Harden’s racked up over ten bow ties and plans on getting a lot more as he buys more suits.

Credit: Twitter

Harden will be buying more suits mostly due to the NBA dress code. While most players are able to bring their own flare to their outfits despite Commissioner Stern’s rules, Harden admits most of his wardrobe goes unworn on game days. “I [usually] wear a lot of hats, t-shirts, that I can’t wear…The rules are put in place for a reason, but I still try to work around it”. The shooting guard may think his style is the best in the league, but he’d still jump at the chance to raid a few wardrobes. “[I’d like to see what] top guys like Kobe and Lebron got in their closet, they probably got tons of stuff in their closet, I just to see what their wardrobe looks like.”

Credit: Dime Magazine

Harden’s personal style extends to his shoes, too. He can’t pick a favorite pair but his choice Nike model will always be the Dunk. He’s looking at adding the Gucci inspired pair to his collection and also loves the Canal Street Air Force One’s because they’re “cool and bright”. Harden’s style advice for those who want to follow his lead is to experiment with colors and not focus on one style, “anything you see that’s unique and different, try to pick it up.” Harden’s hair is evidence that he practices what he preaches and allows him to bring his style on the court too. I wouldn’t suggest the mohawk and beard combo unless you’re around Harden’s age or can grow a significant beard like him.

Credit: Orisue

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Walt “Clyde” Frazier: On Style, Sager and Exotic Skins

The NBA is not without its characters. Basketball is a team sport, but it also allows for style and individualism as displayed in a perfect finger roll, an ankle breaking crossover or the angle of a headband on a furrowed brow. In the last few years, NBA players are truly embracing their own sense of style off the court by hiring stylists, starting clothing lines and even modelling. It’s normal for a modern athlete to have multiple hustles when they’re not on the court to make sure that their brand and finances stay strong through retirement or injury.

This generation of All-Star players showing an interest in fashion have their older generations to thank for trailblazing in the style department. Walt “Clyde” Frazier is a retired two-time NBA champion and now serves as the colour commentator for Knicks’ broadcasts on MSG Network and he bring his own flavour and colourful wardrobe to every game. I didn’t get to watch Frazier playing, as he ruled the hardwood in the 1970’s, but I’m always fascinated by his personal panache and candor on MSG. Walt is a style icon, perhaps the greatest ever that graced the NBA.

Frazier came to New York as an Atlanta boy and took the social scene by storm with his “WCF” vanity plate on his Rolls Royce, fur coats, custom designer suits, late nights in Harlem and the Upper East Side and his signature swagger. He will always be the epitome of cool. He owns the honor of being one of the first NBA players to have a signature shoe, the Clyde – in suede, of course, and it still sells strongly even thirty years after the shoe’s initial release. His lexicon on the MSG broadcasts are often imitated – there’s even a fake Walt Frazier Twitter account, and his wardrobe choices are always screen grab worthy. He’s an author and literally wrote the book on cool, Rockin’ Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool, wherein he admitted he spent half of his rookie salary, $10,000, on clothes. He’s often named to best dressed lists and was recently featured in GQ’s special issue on the twenty-five coolest athletes of all time. Even USA Today’s Money section took note of his long time work with Manhattan’s Mohan’s Custom Tailor. Frazier’s a long time client of Mohan’s and in return for his endorsement, gets a steep discount on suits. And yes, Mohan’s was responsible for the cowhide and leopard-skin concoctions but Frazier found the fabric on his own.

When the Knicks were visiting the Raptors this season, I made it my mission to track down Mr. Frazier (as I wasn’t sure whether it was proper or not to call him Walt or Clyde). After asking Amar’e all I could about his impending (and now published) work in Vogue, I trolled the halls of the Air Canada Centre in my four-inch gold eel skin platforms, looking for Frazier. I wore the exotic skinned shoes hoping that they would bring me luck, and although not practical, I managed to catch Clyde. He wore a ball cap, instead of his trademark fedora and a fully custom-made ensemble. He wore green plaid corduroy single breasted suit, with a yellow patterned collared shirt, a black, pink and green striped tie and tan ostrich leather shoes. He was even kinder than he appears on television. He smiled through the interview, is patient, soft-spoken and has a true passion for bespoke suits and basketball.

I’ve waited to post this interview and today, March 29th, being that is his sixty-sixth birthday, seems like an appropriate time to pay tribute to a true style icon and genuine character in sports. Oh, and for those wondering – his outfit matched the birthday cake that MSG presented him with yesterday. Now that’s special. Frazier has done what most athletes dream of doing – he’s become a lasting and employed figure after his playing days. He may even be better known now for his ridiculous suits and rhyming catch phrases than his steals and championships. Perhaps, one day I can go fabric hunting in the garment district of Manhattan with Frazier (my birthday wish), but for now, I hope you enjoy this snippet of Clyde.

Megan Wilson: How did you develop your own sense of style? What made you “Clyde”?

Walt Frazier: Coming to New York was just a Mecca of clothes, I used to follow my teammates when I was a rookie I used to go where they got their suits made, their shirts made…. What set me apart was my hat – the Clyde hat – then I bought the Rolls Royce and the mink coat so that developed into a style.

MW: Fashion always changes every season. We see it in the NBA now with players like Amar’e Stoudemire going for a more tailored look. How has your style changed from when you were playing?

WF: Well when I was playing in the ’70’s – the lapel used to come all over your jacket so they’d come down on your jacket. The ties were wide then they made them narrow. Men’s fashion is not like women where you’re going to have dramatic changes all the time so if you hold on to the stuff it will come back in style. What I like are colours, different colour combinations. Today, I have something that I think is different. Like the shoes, people usually black shoes or grey shoes with this suit but I like the antelope colour. With antelope I can add some pizzazz to it.

MW: What’s your favorite exotic skin to wear?

WF: I have stingrays… Stingrays makes up a nice boot. I have alligator, but sometimes using the belly gives you a different look, a softer look. I used to be really into fashion, like when I was playing, I used to spend months and months [of salary] on clothes and outerwear. But I still like being fashionably dressed, I spend a lot of time picking out my ties and my shirts. I think when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you look good so that’s what I try to do.

MW: When you go to the tailor to have your suits custom-made, do you design them as well?

WF: Ya, I tell them about the lapel, which type of lapel and the buttons. I essentially design them. Like this fabric I picked myself. I was in a fabric store and I saw the fabric, then I take it to my tailor and tell them I want it double-breasted, single breasted, whatever type [of] cut.

MW: Who do you think has the best style in the NBA now? Who’s on par with the players of your day, does anyone compete?

WF: Like you said, Amar’e is good. He wears a more tailored, European style fit. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, I’ve seen these guys too. They kinda go with the college kinda look, with the sweaters, they kinda mix it up.

MW: Do you think it’s good to take a risk with fashion and not playing it safe?

WF: Well, I like challenges … I like to step out and do that. I guess in New York, you can do that, no one will stare at you no matter what you wear.

MW: You’ve had some memorable outfits, do you have a favorite? Is it hard to choose?

WF: Not really. This one is good today, I like tomorrow[‘s suit]. I’ve got to come up with something new so I never reach the pinnacle, just another plateau when I see another suit (laughs) and try to top that one. That’s what I try to do every game. … The fans now know that I’m going to have a different suit so they’re looking to see what I’m wearing so I have to give them something new.

MW: Now, NBA bloggers out there are always interested in what you are but don’t have a baller’s budget. What kind of tips would you give to them to get a cool, Clyde style?

WF: Don’t push the colours all the time, it’s about the fit. If you can get a nice tailored fit, like we’re saying with Amar’e, you can probably get that off the rack, people will probably think you’ve had that custom-made. Of course for shirts, you can get them tailored. But the tie and handkerchief a lot of the time make the outfit. If you can get a nice tie and a nice pocket square to finish it off.

MW: So where did your outfit come from today?

WF: My tailor, Mohan’s Custom Tailors did the suit. My shoes are made of ostrich leather and I had them made up custom by a guy in downtown New York. My tie is a custom-made by a guy named John Coages, I usually go to him to get my ties. What happens when you’re a tall guy is that your ties have to be longer than a regular tie, I can’t always buy ties from the store because if I want to do a different knot. And it’s not that expensive, maybe a hundred and twenty dollars.

MW: Who do you think has the better style – you or Craig Sager?

WF: (laughs) I think he’s a little more flamboyant than I am… I think my style is a little better. It’s because I’m taller – taller guys can wear a little better style.

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Maëlle Ricker: Not Your Average Olympian

How do you differentiate between an athlete and someone who only participates in a sport? Do you need to be a professional to earn the athlete title? My sport of choice is snowboarding. I competed briefly and taught at a local ski hill. When I wasn’t chasing my students, I was spending my spare time hunting for powder on the icy East Coast and destroying my body in the snow park. It was a badge of honour to show up hung over or bounce right back from a concussion and crank big turns. Snowboarders, back when I started in the late 90’s, were almost like the hip hop alternate to skiers – we weren’t jocks, we were the stylish outcasts. We wore our pants low and our heads were covered in oversized goggles, headphones and tall toques. It was about style and speed, not athletics.

Recently, Gatorade contacted me about speaking with one their marquee athletes to launch the G Series line here in Canada. I was surprised that the athlete in question was Olympics gold medalist and World Cup snowboard cross athlete, Maëlle Ricker. Maëlle captured the country’s heart when she was the first woman to win gold on home soil. A Vancouver local, she grew up in the mountains, with parents who “eat, breath and speak skiing”. She started snowboarding after her following her old brother’s lead and was instantly hooked. For Maëlle, snowboard cross made sense because she was able to combine all of her snow skills. “I have my background in ski racing when I started snowboarding I was all about freestyle, I wanted to jump and do the half-pipe and all that. When I tried snowboard cross, all my different sporting backgrounds, […] kind of combined into an event that I excelled at. I had the freestyle skills from riding and sort of the race skills from ski racing”.

Snowboarding has gone from a fringe sport that many mountains outlawed to a marketable, professional and perhaps most importantly, an Olympic sport. Maëlle agrees that snowboarders don’t necessarily like the athlete title that comes along with the professional designation, “there is this misconception that snowboarders aren’t working out, they’re not trying”. Maëlle said at the High Road Communications office in downtown Toronto. She was wearing jeans, a Gatorade zip up and a pair of practical platform, waterproof knee-high boots. “…That’s just the image we like to give off. We actually are working our butts off. We’re out on the hill everyday, all day. We are in the gym in the afternoons and in the offseason”. I remember powder days where we would go out for hours on end without food, water and sometimes, not even an iPod. But times have changed and Maëlle is endorsing Gatorade, one of the most recognized brands in sports and an icon in athlete branding. She’s one of over four hundred athletes, including Dwyane Wade, Usain Bolt and Georges St. Pierre, that Gatorade collaborated with in developing the new G-Series. Their goal with the G-Series, which launches March 21st in Canada, is to move the brand from purely a sports drink company to a sport nutrition innovator.

But how do these three steps of Gatorade: prime, perform and recover, help Maëlle? She competes in a sport where not only do milliseconds matter when crossing the finish line, but she needs explosive strong muscles when banking turns and going over big air jumps. She likes the series because she’s able to use it on and off the hill in riding and work outs, “When I’m on the hill, like for example when I’m at a race, I make sure 15 minutes before I drop in for my heats, I’m taking the Prime, I’m getting the right carbs, vitamins and electrolytes into my system so that I’m at my maximum energy for when I’m riding. Or when I’m riding or when I’m at the gym, it’s so important to keep hydrated. Even if you’re just slightly dehydrated, like two percent, you’re going to be off your game, you’re not going to be able to re-act as well, your muscles are not going to respond as quickly as you need them […] When I’m done my race or I’m done my workout, then right away you’re beating your muscles down all work out, basically breaking them down and now you have a really short window to recover and to get the right nutrients in so that you’re building your muscles back up to be stronger and ready for the next day. So that’s when you’re going to be your protein and your carbs and that’s the recover part of the line of the G Series”.

Maëlle is more than just a snowboarder but also an avid student of the sport. She admits that she’s not always paid attention to the training aspect of professional snowboarding. It wasn’t until an injury forced her to hit the gym diligently. Tearing an ACL is a common but devastating injury to a snowboarding as all day on the hill, they’re flexing and extending their knees for turns, jumps – they’re like human shock absorbers.”That’s the first time I was really serious about making sure I was fit and ready on my board […] the last few years working a lot with board technology and […] today working with sports nutrition. We’ve had nutritionists in the past with the team and they’ve been awesome but just being a part of this Gatorade family and testing this new G Series line and having that integrated into my personal program, it’s really cool”.

I had to ask Maelle more about the style aspect of snowboarding, being someone who’s into the fashion as much as the frontside spins. Snowboard cross may not ooze swagger like other events, but Maelle recognizes rider’s signatures just as easily on the course as the half-pipe “…Everyone has their own style on the course. I mean, you know your competitor, you can see them from a mile away, you know who it is just from the way they ride […] I don’t know how people describe my style […] I hope nothing negative!”. When it comes to her on snow apparel, she always choses comfort over fashion, favouring baggy pants, long jackets and more basic colours like blues, greens and reds. Besides her own Olympic gear, which she called “super tech […] and ready for the miserable weather”, she liked the faux jean outfits that the American team was wearing. She’s had a chance to work on the more performance area of apparel as well as board technology but hasn’t designed any of her own gear.

Maëlle snowboards for the love it, her eyes light up when she talks about free riding and mountaineering to further her exploration of the beloved backcountry. The training, along with World Cup events last all year round, which suits her just fine as she’s never been one to sit still. When it came to preparation for the Olympics, Maëlle had a very no non-sense approach, “the thing with the Olympics, even in my hometown, I still treated it like another World Cup. I didn’t drive my car […] I went on the bus with the team. I made sure before I competed that nothing was drastically different from when I competed with the team in the rest of the season. Obviously, after the event, things got kind of crazy […] I was really happy to be back with my team in Europe and racing again, I felt like I was back in my skin and at my comfort level”.

Winning the Olympic gold medal has afforded opportunities but also a few challenges, “It’s forced me to learn a different side of snowboarding – the business side. I’ve probably matured a lot in the last year. But, I’ve had some amazing opportunities with ACT Now BC and Kid Sport Canada and then I get the chance to align myself with companies I believe in”. Where does she go from here? Olympic Gold medalist, Winter X-Games gold medalist, Gatorade endorser – what more can she do? “I’m still progressing and still moving on an upward slope in boarder cross and I’m looking forward to keep pushing myself in the next few years. And I’m also really passionate about free riding and being out in the backcountry – I have the mountain right at my doorstep”.

Maëlle’s honesty and laid back love of the sport is inspiring. She may not ooze style through what she wears but her riding and patronage of the sport is contagious. She’s not your typical athlete but she proves that you don’t have to be a typical jock or fit the image of the stereotypical snowboarder to succeed – she walks the fine line, all for the love the powder turn and the going for the gold.

For more on Maëlle, you can click below to read the transcript of our interview below. Special thanks to Laura from High Road Communications and Gatorade Canada Team.

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Steal His Style: The Varsity Jacket

The retro renaissance is in full swing in the NBA. There are vintage inspired uniforms worn by the Golden State Warriors and Kobe’s overbite is back with a vengeance and poor shot selection to match. Players are also taking vintage cues when it comes to their off-court wardrobe. For the past few seasons, menswear has become enamored with preppy styles and a cleaner version of 90’s hip hop references. Gone are the baggy jeans, Rock and Republics and all iced-out everything. Now, wardrobes are full of snapbacks, Starter jackets and a bevy of Ralph Lauren.

LeBron James wore a Gommi Arcarde x Sabit Varsity jacket for his birthday. Priced at only $180. Photo credit: Getty Images

The varsity jacket is a classic that can work in every man’s wardrobe when worn appropriately. American streetwear brands are all offering their own branded take on the Letterman style. While luxury fashion houses like Rick Owens and Balmain mixed unexpected fabrics and fitted silhouettes for a modern interpretation on the classic, NBA stars have recently started designing their own personalized varsity jackets. Let’s take a look at some of the style highlights when it comes to the varsity jacket and how you can put your own look together without the high price tag and endorsement deal.

Photo credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

When it comes to the most popular brand, Nike comes out on top. Nike Sportswear launched an aggressive marketing and design campaign this year focusing on their classic Destroyer jacket, their version of a varsity jacket. At events across the world, and at the Nike Sportswear flagship store in New York City, the blank canvas is customized with the help of Nike designers. They brought on cities, trend setters and their own roster of athletes to showcase the styling options. Nike’s reigning king, LeBron James, was the first NBA athlete to début his custom Nike Destroyer jacket. He’s been followed by burgeoning fashion designer Amar’e Stoudemire as well as his teammate, Chris Bosh.

Bosh and Stoudemire designing their bespoke pieces. Photo credit: Nike Sportswear

When you’re out hunting for the perfect varsity jacket, the key thing to keep in mind is shape and fit. Lay the jacket out and make sure the waistband, usually made of a stretchy material, isn’t a lot smaller than the shoulder width. If the jacket makes a definite v-shape, it will likely look like that on you — too big in the shoulders, too tight in the hips and could give you a gut that otherwise isn’t there. Make sure the shoulders fit properly as many cheaper varsity jackets will have a tiny collar and huge shoulder, and not a more even distribution. Also, many jacket sleeves tend to widen or be very large in comparison to the body of the jacket. Remember that anything can be taken in, but likely not let out. It’s better to size up, then tailor down to the get best fit.

Photo credit: RegularOlTy.com

In terms of materials, the Letterman style standard is a wool body with leather sleeves and optional iron-on or sewn-on letters. If you want the jacket to last, leather is a better option than vinyl sleeves as it is more breathable, meaning you won’t have to dry clean it as often. The best places to look for a quality jacket are eBay or a local vintage store. It takes some digging, but you can find some really interesting or limited pieces. If you feel like getting creative, you can find letters, numbers or have a logo made to style a basic piece into something personal.

Great eBay find: 2007 UNDFTD sample jacket

Here are a few of my picks for varsity jackets on budget, as a bespoke or limited edition Nike Destroyer jacket will cost you upwards for $2000. Layering thin materials in classic patterns and fabrics — such as chambray and gingham — with denim and boots is an easy way to look polished but casual from now until early spring.

Click the link for a buyer's guide.

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The Ron Artest Art Show: Hipsters, Hoopsters and Sock Puppets

As I’ve written here before, Ron Artest is not your average NBA player. His antics on and off the court can illicit conversation, Twitter trends, fan outburts and even a Larry King interview. However, in early December 2010, a Facebook page announced an event that for most NBA fans and players was the inconceivable – a basketball inspired art show, dedicated solely to RonRon. Entitled Lovable Badass: A Tribute to Ron Artest, was the brainchild of curator, Steven Charles Manale, a Toronto artist and basketball fan, produced for Narwhal Art Projects. Thirty local artists paid tribute to the Queensbridge, New York native in a variety of art forms, including pen and ink drawings, sculptures, essays, prints, paintings and sock puppets.

Image credit: Narwhal Art Projects

When I received the Facebook invite and news of the art show became a popular tweet topic, I had a few mixed feelings. The event seemed well planned and Narwhal is known in Toronto for showcasing interesting works that are, at least intriguing, and usually well executed. The fact that it supported local artistans and one of my favorite NBA personalities was an interesting combination. But would the fusion between hood athlete and the hipster art scene work? Would the mix of unlikely bedfellows prompt the crowds to separate like an awkward high school dance, jocks versus artists? Promises of a mix of Ron’s favorite New York City hip hop piqued my interest, as did hearing that the bar would be stacked full of Hennessy. How gangster is that? Curious got me out of the door and I was barely even fashionably late to the opening.

Photo credit: Loni Schick

Needless to say, it was a surreal, once in a lifetime experience. I applaud the gallery and curator for trying something different. The timing was perfect as the night of the opening was during the Lakers practice day in Toronto, as they faced the Raptors the next afternoon. And yes, the man of the hour and mixed media art even attended. Ron is famous for using Twitter to reach out to fans and promote events. Ron  re-posted my article on his fashion sense on his official website – RONARTEST.COM and retweeted the link. I was curious to find out if he actually read my post, to see what he was wearing and if he would partake in a bit of Hennessy, too.

Photo credit: My iPhone 3G

The crowd at Narwhal was an interesting mix, different from you’d usually see at West Queen Street West art show opening in Toronto or a Raptors game. There were the artists who were on hand to pose with their art, explain their influences and greet Ron and guests. The organizers who all wore different Ron Artest jerseys from throughout his professional career (no Saint John’s college gear, though). It was a nice, campy touch and made them easy to find in the crowd. The jerseys bring me to basketball fans in attendance, many in basketball gear hoping to get a picture with RonRon. Members of the media slung back from the madness including theScore’s The Basketball Jones (Skeets and Matt) who were able to grab Ron for a quick interview and got the crowd to yes, say Queensbridge. There were also the usual neighbourhood hipsters and fellow artists taking it in.

The final group was the hoopsters. Now, I can’t take credit for this term as Deadspin coined it but it’s necessary in my lexicon in this instance. A hoopster is a hipster who wears an old, deadstock or rare NBA jersey for ironic wardrobe purposes, usually as a shirt in the summer with skinny jeans and boat shoes. Some are NBA fans, some are vintage fiends and some are just trying too hard to be cool. I heard one group of hoopsters discussing NBA rappers, as Ron has spit on mixtapes and even on solo tracks. My favorite overhead moment, “Hoopster 1: Shaq was an okay rapper, have you seen Shazam?” Hoopster 2: Allen Iverson is a pretty good rapper, though”. Yes, AI had some skills on mic, but his rhymes never cut like his crossover. Shaq however, is an embarrassment to hip hop.

Photo Credit: Steve Wilson

Despite the bizarre mix, most people got along just fine, perhaps it was the cognac or the pretty DJ Ali Cat spinning tunes or the mix of interesting art work. My favorite pieces include a sculpture of a classic photograph – Ron holding puppies in his Pacers’ uniform, a Charlie Brown comic chronicling the crazy of Artest and an illustration featuring the infamous “kiss” between Paul Pierce and Ron Artest.

Photo credit: Steven Wilson

Amongst the madness at Narwhal, I managed to grab Ron for a few minutes to introduce myself so we were no longer only Twitter friends. It was nice to hear that he read the blog and has an interest in my other work I do in the sports fashion realm. We both agreed that his outfit, while not great, was better than most of his effort when out in public. He wore a Ballin’ hoodie and a pair of baggy, dark jeans that despite his 6’8 frame pooled at least a few inches above his feet. How he found jeans that long, I’ll never know! While it’s nice to get comments and support from fellow media members and fans, it’s really exciting when the subjects I write about are also into my work and want to collaborate in the future. It may seem cliche, but it’s extra motivation for me to keep writing and styling in my niche market and hopefully, will lead to a few NBA players on client roster down the line. Ron made a speech, too – did you know he majored in art and architectural at Saint John’s before transferring to math, since it was easier? Ron lived up to the hype of being just a normal yet strange guy who also happens to have an NBA championship under his belt. He took time to speak to all the artists, pose with fans  and share stories. He left relatively early and it was neat to see all kinds of people excited to meet Ron and celebrate his unique style and life experiences.

Photo credit: Loni Schick

The event was a success. Press from all over North American picked up the story and most, if not all, of the art was snatched up as well. It’s not everyday that an art show can have such a specific focus, especially on one subject who is outside of the arts world, be a hit with so many markets. It’s also proof that it pays to be original – the artists, some not even NBA fans and crowd alike, were all inspired and entertained with a tale of redemption, charity, and crazy. Keep doing you, Ron!

If you want to learn more about the exhibit, check out the Narwhal Art Projects website or read Eric Koreen’s excellent article “Artestic Expression” on the show for the National Post. Thanks to my best girl and photographer Loni Schick for graciously letting me use her pictures for this post (I will get your Lakers toaster soon – promise!).

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Amar’e Stoudemire Gets More Credit From Anna Wintour than Mike D’Antoni

Amar’e Stoudemire seems like a new man since he became a Knick this off-season. New York is a like a Mikveh for Amar’e – not only because he’s discovering his Jewish roots but socially, he’s been reborn as one of fashion’s chosen people. Stoudemire’s stylish flare caught the eye of the single powerful person in the fashion industry, American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

Amar'e Stoudemire at the Fashion's Night Out party hosted by Vogue in September 2010. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Amar’e emerged on the style scene this past Mercedez Benz Fashion Week, before the NBA season began. Ms. Wintour personally invited Amar’e to the Fashion’s Night Out runway event and launch party hosted by Vogue, which is the official kick-off to fashion week. He also attended the Tommy  Hilfiger twenty-fifth anniversary runway show, where he sat front row between Anna and Hamish Bowles, the European editor-at-large for Vogue. Since September, the rumours are swirling that Amar’e could be the second black man (and basketball player) to appear on the cover of American Vogue, after LeBron James. Amar’e is no stranger to modeling and thanks to his own adventurous sartorial sense and high profile stylist – he’s become one of the most fashionable men in the league.

Vogue’s new big three? Front row at Tommy Hilfiger’s 25th anniversary runway show. Photo credit: Getty Images.

After the Knicks win versus the Raptors this past Sunday, Amar’e was dressed deliberately understated in Louis Vuitton sneakers, wool trousers, green tie and a black zip-up sweater. I had to ask if he’s criticized more for his game or his wardrobe? Anna Wintour and coach Mike D’Antoni are known as two of the most demanding individuals in their respective professions, but the answer may surprise you. Amar’e Stoudemire – super model? Maybe.

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