Take one look at the photos of Russell Westbrook enjoying New York Fashion Week and it seems clear that the frustrating end to his 2012-13 season, a season-ending knee injury suffered in the first-round of the playoffs, is a thing of the past.
We probably could have surmised as much when he made his headlines in August for wearing an outrageous outfit and posing with pop star Miley Cyrus at the Teen Choice Awards, but that still felt like a stunt. In regular attendance at fashion shows this week, where he's reportedly taken in the new designs alongside the likes of Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Rihanna, Westbrook looks and sounds like a budding connoisseur in his version of heaven.
Mr. Westbrook’s presence as a front-row regular may have caught some of the other Fashion Week attendees by surprise, but the player believes he belongs among their ranks. When he arrived in the N.B.A., in 2008, Mr. Westbrook said that, clothing-wise, “nobody was doing anything that would attract the fashion crowd.” (Well-dressed league veterans like Dwyane Wade, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire might disagree.)
“People got on the podium in whatever they were wearing that day,” he said. If some players were more presentable in tailored separates “it was cliché,” he added, noting that though many other players employ stylists, he chooses pieces on his own because, akin to being a point guard, he likes control. “They were wearing the same suits,” he said. Looking “ ‘business casual,’ is what the N.B.A. calls it.”
“Russell is part of a newer generation, players that take fashion as a real badge of cool,” said Jim Moore, creative director for GQ. “For years and years, you had that Pat Riley and Michael Jordan idea of off-court style; they were all going to the same tailors and they were almost getting too fancy with it.”
Westbrook's own outfits, as always, turned heads, although he does seem to have turned down the wattage, perhaps realizing that, for once in his life, he wasn't the center of attention.
Below, check out photos of Westbrook sporting: a black vest with a long vertical zipper, an all-black ensemble (including tights), and flip-up sunglasses with a gold medallion, among other looks from earlier this summer.