An NBA Stylist Tells Why LeBron Sports Eyeglasses - Businessweek
Rachel Johnson, 38, either has one of the best jobs in professional sports or the worst. Sheís the personal stylist for NBA superstars such as Amaríe Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and Chris Paul, among many others.
Which means she spends her days finding clothes for people who might as well have gigantism. Because of her influence, the Miami Heatís LeBron Jamesówhom all eyes will be watching on Tuesday night at game four of the NBA Finalsówas dubbed ďthe Gameís Best-DressedĒ by GQ magazine. But what about his headbands, which havenít been fashionable since Olivia Newton-John got physical? Is Johnson responsible for those? We decided to call her and find out.
You want to make a prediction about tonightís game?
My prediction is: Whoever scores the most points in the paint and whoever has the most offensive rebounds tonight is going to win this game.
I meant predictions about fashion.
Like how? What the players will be wearing?
How about headbands? Is LeBron going with one or two headbands tonight?
(Laughs.) I have no clue.
Was the headband your idea?
No, thatís all him. The headbands really are functional for him. He wears them literally to keep sweat out of his eyes.
Are you sure heís not just hiding his receding hairline?
No, no. Heís extremely active on the court, always flying around, blocking, doing more than anyone else. Itís not really a fashion statement. Itís definitely more about function.
If Miami wins, LeBron is going to have a busy schedule. Thereíll be parades, talk shows, and so forth. Have you been working on his media-blitz wardrobe?
Oh yeah, Iím actually formulating that plan right now in Miami. I work very closely with Nike (NKE), so there are a few things in the works for the myriad of media thatíll ensue after this win.
Can you give us a hint?
Weíre really into colors these days.
As opposed to what?
Iím talking about bold colors, tempered with more muted tones like beige and khaki. Thatís where our minds are in terms of expectations.
Whatís the most difficult part of picking out clothes for athletes? Is it finding the gigantic shoes? The enormous pants? The ridiculously big underwear?
Putting together a look for athletes, especially those who live within the size range that most of my clients live inómy first challenge is actually working with designers to have them understand the proportions. My clients are extremely tall, but I donít think of them in those terms. I donít approach it like, ďOh my God, this gentleman is so tall.Ē Or ďHis arms are so long, what am I going to do?Ē Itís more about embracing those differences. Youíre finding ways to applaud the length and the muscles and the build.
If youíve got it, flaunt it?
Absolutely. Iím all about enhancing the male body and creating looks that frame your body, as opposed to hiding or camouflaging it.
Do you charge by the hour or the yard?
(Laughs.) I definitely charge by the yard. It always works out better.
Whoís the biggest player youíve worked with, just in terms of body mass?
Shaq was definitely the biggest. I donít work with him regularly but had the pleasure of working with him on an ad campaign. Heís so self-confident that no matter what you put on him, as long as itís the right proportions, he looks great.
Proportions make all the difference?
Oh yeah. Itís all about tailoring. You have to make sure the proportions match their bodies. I think thatís one area where gentlemen in general need to develop their acumen.
Give us some measurements for Shaq that would blow our mind.
His foot is a size 22.
Couldnít he just wear a couple of kayaks and call it a day?
One thing Iíve found with most athletes, itís all about the footwear. Usually, when theyíre being styled, itís like: ďPut me in whatever you think is going to look good, but please make sure that my shoes are comfortable and I can make it through the night.Ē Thatís usually everybodyís main concern.
Unnecessary glasses have become a popular look for NBA athletes. Do you approve?
I completely support it when itís done in moderation.
Whenís the right time for non-prescription glasses?
When youíre in a business meeting or any situation in which a gentleman needs to present himself in a very serious light. Itís a great way to change the way people perceive you.
Athletes have big personalities and big egos. How do you win their respect? Do you have to be the biggest or loudest person in the room to get their attention?
Not really. For me, itís all about business. Iím very no-nonsense. When a gentleman comes to me and they want to be dressed, they understand that they need the service and theyíre ready to turn themselves over to me.
So you donít get a lot of arguments?
Rarely. Iím not hired so that they can fight against me. Iím coming in to become part of their team and help build their brand and make them more marketable.
Have you ever had a Jerry Maguire moment?
When a client forces you to demonstrate your enthusiasm to keep his business. ďShow me the money,Ē that sort of thing.
(Laughs.) No, thank goodness. My work speaks for itself. When Iím presenting looks and ideas to a client, they walk into a room and instantly they knowójust visuallyóhow much I care.
Whoís going to play you in the movie about sports stylists?
I donít know. I never ever thought about that before. I just hope that she is multi-faceted, whoever she is. And she definitely has to be tall.
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