Behind the curtain as Von Miller, Broncos select their Super Bowl styles
It’s Wednesday night, 93 hours before the biggest game of his career, and Von Miller is at the door. He’s already completed his media obligations for the day, went through an entire practice on the field, and sat through a mandatory team meeting. Now he only has one thing left to do before he is free for the evening, but that one thing is imperative. Miller is here to meet with his stylist and try on the custom-made clothes that just got delivered for him that morning.
Wearing black sweatpants, a black and white striped hoodie, and brown slippers, Miller walks into the room with a beatific smile just as defensive end Derek Wolfe is finished picking out his own Super Bowl suit. It was Wolfe’s first time meeting with Chandra Ferrer of élevée Custom Clothing, Miller’s stylist since he entered the NFL in 2011. Ferrer works with about a dozen players on the Broncos, a team that is universally regarded as one of the more nattily dressed in the league.
Miller—a seasoned and noted fashion vet—picked out all of his outfits for Super Bowl week well in advance. Almost immediately after the Broncos beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Miller texted Ferrer so they could start game planning. A couple of days later Ferrer flew out to Denver to meet with Miller, and several other Broncos players, in the living room of his house.
The first thing they needed to do was decide on the looks they wanted to sport on the team’s charter flight from Colorado to California; this week especially, even the airplane outfit is of utmost importance. Ferrer asked Miller if he had any shoes that he had never worn before and, after a couple moments of thinking, Miller popped up and sprinted to his closet. When he returned, he had a pair of pink, black and yellow Louboutins—price: $1,145.
“I was like, woah that’s really loud.” Ferrer says. She then took a picture of the shoe, and started to brainstorm what colors she could match with it. Miller gives Ferrer pretty much free reign to come up with a suit to match the shoes that he chooses. She figured teal would be the best look.
Next they had to come up with an outfit for Miller to wear to the Super Bowl on Sunday, a game where the spotlight will shine brighter, on both his play and his style, than any other this season. That outfit was also built around the shoes—a different pair of Louboutins that contain a special crystal and cost $3,200.
“A lot of white guys around the league, they don't show the swag that they got. I’m the swaggiest white guy in the league.” —Derek Wolfe
Miller, like many other Broncos, decided he wanted to go with a black and gold ensemble for the game, the Super Bowl 50 commemorative colors. Ferrer wasn't too enthused when several of the players decided that they wanted to use the same color scheme. But she still was able to put together all of their outfits, with different styles, patterns and fabrics, so that they would all look unique. “They do not want to look the same,” Ferrer says.
Miller—and a few other players on team, such as Aqib Talib, Demarcus Ware and Louis Vasquez—also wanted a few casual outfits that they could wear to the sundry events they would be making appearances at throughout the week. For the Super Bowl, even when it’s not game day, you always have to look your best.
Vasquez ordered a burgundy jacket and black knit sweater jacket, black zipper pants, and a black casual jacket. Miller got a carmel overcoat, a dark grey suit, a pair of Balmain jeans, a pair of Gucci jeans, and several extended tees with scoop sides in various colors.
When the package of clothes arrived to the team hotel in Santa Clara on Wednesday morning—and then consequently went through several hours of NFL security clearance, even though Ferrer put the Broncos’ secret code on the shipping label to expedite the process—Ferrer texted Miller to let him know his outfits were ready to be picked up. Shortly thereafter he showed up at Ferrer’s door, along with cornerback Kayvon Webster, who still had yet to pick out his Super Bowl outfit.
As they walked in, Wolfe walked out. Wolfe had arrived about half an hour prior, and he came with a problem. He had brought a casual outfit with him to Santa Clara that he planned to wear on game day, but once he found out that Miller, and Ware, and Talib, and pretty much all of Ferrer’s other clients were wearing suits, he realized he had to call an audible. Miller told him to hit up his girl Chandra, and after doing his initial measurements and going over the colors and fabrics that he wanted (a red plaid pant, black jacket and shirt, red and black bow tie) Wolfe was relieved. He had his outfit picked out, and now he knew he would be looking good for the big game.
“A lot of white guys around the league, they don't show the swag that they got,” Wolfe said as he left the room. “I’m the swaggiest white guy in the league.”
élevée is a small custom clothing company based out of Van Nuys, CA, with approximately 75 employees. They have 50 tailors who make the clothes and five stylists, including Ferrer, who work with athletes across all sports. They also have a country club division that works with businessmen and corporate executives.
But athletes, in addition to simply wanting to look stylish, have a fundamental need to get their clothes custom made. The majority of them, because of their body size and shape, are unable to shop in stores. “When you’re 6’5” and you have a 30 inch thigh, you’re not going to be able to find anything that fits you,” Ferrer says.
And it’s not just suits. Some players need almost their entire wardrobe custom made. Ferrer has made everything from swimwear to sweatpants to pajamas. For new clients, she recommends one casual outfit to start, and a navy suit and a grey suit—“and then they can get loud after that,” she says.
After the initial measurements are taken and any necessary adjustments are made, the rest of the orders can be done virtually. Ferrer estimates that 90% of her orders come over the phone. Ferrer will often text different style options around to her clients, based on their own unique preferences, to see if anything piques their interest. It takes élevée about four hours to make a custom suit, and about thirty minutes to make a custom dress shirt. The average price of a custom made suit is $1,595, but that price is reduced if the order does not need to be rushed.
Ferrer works with at least one player on every team in the NFL, and on some teams, like the Broncos, she has several clients. But it’s not just the players who require her services. She also works with many coaches and GMs around the league. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is a frequent customer, and one who likes to pick out all of his clothes himself, oftentimes building his outfits around his famed Kangol hats.
Not to be outdone, Cardinals general manager, Steve Keim, may be even more hands on. At the start of every season, Keim will tell Ferrer that she needs to head out to their training camp first, before any other team’s, so he can pick out all of his outfits before the other GMs make their choices.
“They all know each other,” Ferrer says. “And they all love to be in competition.”
During training camp before every season, Ferrer goes around from team facility to team facility, meeting with her clients. They go through the team’s schedule for the entire year, and select outfits for each week. If it’s likely to be an important contest—maybe Monday Night Football, maybe a rival opponent—they know they will have to step up their game. That sentiment is never stronger than during the Super Bowl, when their outfits will be displayed and dissected interminably.
Ferrer also works with athletes in the MLB and NBA, as well as the NFL. And each sport has its own unique style. “Baseball guys are a little more casual,” Ferrer says. “They have 162 games, they are on the road the most, and they just want to be comfortable on the plane. Football is more suits, a little flashier. And the NBA is the ultimate high fashion, they want to be on trend.”
There is a lot of give and take between Ferrer and her clients— especially the ones, like Miller, who like to think a little more outside the box. “Sometimes a guy tells me he wants something and in my head I’m saying that’s going to look terrible,” Ferrer says. “But if you have confidence you can pretty much rock whatever you want.”
It’s clear that for the Broncos players, the immense preparation that goes on during Super Bowl week happens not just on the field or in the meeting rooms. They don’t just have to worry about how they are going to stop Panthers quarterback Cam Newton or how they are going to answer any of the inane questions the media lobs their way throughout the week. There is one other thing they make sure to find the time for during the biggest, most important week of their athletic careers: their outfits.
“The players want to make sure they are on point for the events, that they are wearing the best outfit they possibly can when they are walking into that stadium,” Ferrer notes. “Like Deion says: ‘you look good you play good, you play good you get paid good.’”
“I just put it on and I rock it, no matter what it is.” —Von Miller
Von Miller has been busy spending the last thirty minutes trying on all of the outfits that were delivered for him. He put on his marbled grey extended tee, and his Balmain jeans, and his carmel overcoat, and walked over to the closet mirror to see how he looked.
“[Looks like] I’m going to a PTA meeting for my son,” Miller joked.
While Miller was going through all his different outfits, Kayvon Webster stood in the corner of the room on his phone. He had yet to pick out his Super Bowl suit, although he knew he wanted it to be black. He had been trying to find a floral shirt that he thought Ferrer had sent over to him as an option, but neither of them could figure out which shirt he was thinking of.
“I had seen one in the book,” Webster says. “It had the black shirt and it was colorful, with flowers.”
There is another knock at the door. “Who is it,” Von Miller asks in a singsong tone.
“El Chapo,” Louis Vasquez answers, having arrived to pick up his own outfits.
“It’s open,” Miller responds, not actually opening the door. Vasquez tries and fails to get in. “It’s opennnnn,” Miller says again, before eventually ceding and letting in the All-Pro guard.
While Vasquez tries on his outfits, and Miller continues to try on his own, Webster is still struggling to find the pattern he wanted. “I’m sad,” he says. “I don’t see the shirt.”
Vasquez puts on his black knit sweater, a sort of cardigan/jacket hybrid— perfect fit. “Louis DiCaprio,” Miller says.
As Webster sulks and struggles to find his preferred pattern, Miller describes his own personal style sense. “I’m Von Miller to the fullest … there’s only one Von Miller, so my style is unique to myself,” Miller says, “That’s why it’s so effortless and so easy. I just put it on and I rock it, no matter what it is.”
Miller explains that the various pairs of glasses that have become his proprietary look are, in fact, prescription. He owns 120 different pairs. He also gives his opinion on the black and gold tights that Cam Newton wore a few days prior.
“When you’re Superman you can wear whatever you want,” Miller says.
Ferrer, meanwhile, realizes that Webster is not making any progress on finding a shirt. She lets him know that he needs to pick one, so that she can get the order in today and he can have the suit in time for the weekend. Ferrer’s production manager had been calling her non-stop throughout the day and saying that they had too much being made at the same time—32 jackets on the assembly line alone—and some might have to be pushed back.
“Just give me that one,” Webster says, giving a cursory glance at the fabrics.
When notified that that it is the same shirt that Miller wore last year, Webster changes course and says he no longer wants it.
“We can dress up in the same stuff and take pictures,” Miller jokes. “Like pops and son.”
Eventually, Webster gives up. He can’t look through any more floral patterns. He is dejected. He decides to just defer to Ferrer’s judgment.
“O.K., I’ll hook it up,” she replies. “I got you.”
A few hours later, however, Webster sends Ferrer a text. He’s worried about his outfit; he wants to know more, to see different options. It’s the Super Bowl, after all, and he needs it to be perfect.