In the NBA playoffs, legends are born and stars are made. While true skills, sweat and character are proven on the hardwood, personal style only really comes out during the post game press conferences when players can flaunt and compete for the most fashionable or at least, most talked about for reasons other than a stat line.
This NBA post season, Russell Westbrook has emerged as one of the new sartorial stars, albeit not always for the right aesthetic reasons. The twenty-three year old Los Angeles native’s aggressive style of play seems to translate in his wardrobe choices as he picks items that a bold statement. He’s smart in selecting shirts and eyewear as his signature, standout pieces as during interviews, he sits behind a podium. Onlookers only get to catch a glimpse of his footwear and pants as he’s walking by. His style draws the attention to his face and obviously, he relishes in the limelight (and Twitter outcries) every night. He knows what people will see and he’s able to get his swagger delivered while behind a microphone and beside his superstar teammate, Kevin Durant.
Westbrook’s shirts are making the most amount of buzz when it comes to his fashion choices, from the gypsy pink pop art-inspired Lacoste polo from Game 2 against the San Antonio Spurs, to the allure of the lures of his fishing polo (also Lacoste). Last night for the Thunder’s game 3 victory at home in Oklahoma City – Westbrook broke out a melange button up by Junya Watanabe MAN for Comme des Garçons. The shirt was a smidgen small and very busy, but it certainly has fashion and basketball fans divided as Watanabe is an infamous and applauded Japanese designer that frankly, most people can’t pull off.
Westbrook takes risks and for that he should be applauded. However, I was curios why he was so dedicated to glasses and more importantly – does he need them to help his vision? For every post game look that he’s worn to the podium, Westbrook has accessorized himself with statement eyewear. Sometimes he wears lenses, often not, and occasionally they’re just forehead accoutrements (thank god he doesn’t wear his sunglasses at night). It’s common knowledge that Durant needs prescription glasses as he plays with contacts but Westbrook’s been a mystery – until now.
Thanks to social media, I managed to get into contact with Black Optical, one of Westbrook’s favorite stores in Oklahoma City. Black Optical is an eyewear boutique that has stores in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City and they specialized in more stylish, fashion forward brands for both sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses. A few of my personal favorite lines that they carry are Thom Browne, Mykita, Balenciaga, Garrett Leight California Optical, Alain Milki and Tom Ford. Ryan Bowling of Black Optical often assists Westbrook in all his eyewear needs and assures me that as far as he’s concerned, Westbrook has perfect vision.
My next concern was the lenses, as when you buy most eyewear it comes with a stock, demo lens because most people buy glasses to fill with proper prescription lenses, not just to wear for fun. While this isn’t problem in the short-term, it’s still bad for your eyes, even if your vision is 20/20. That’s because the demo lenses can distort your vision and are prone to smudging and scratches. They also reflect light which isn’t practical if you’re getting your photo taken or on camera, as Westbrook often is post game. Since Westbrook wears his frames more as an expensive accessory, he’ll often pop the lenses out of both sunglasses and clear glasses – there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Luckily Bowling of Black Optical has been able to make sure that the lenses Westbrook wears are treated anti-reflection coating whenever possible. So not only are Westbrook’s eyes protected, but he’s always camera ready.
It’s interesting to note that he’s really developing his own style, and while I think he could always improve and push his look more, I have to give Westbrook props for being true to himself and doing what he wants. Clear glasses are a very drown out accessory trend, far beyond a fad as it has been on going for years, Westbrook is just the latest to steal it as his new signature item. Most give Dwyane Wade and his amazing stylist Calyann Barnett credit for bringing the glasses and “nerd swag” (worst.term.ever!) to the NBA as players began to embrace the dress code more and hire stylists to help mould their entire image just a few short seasons ago. I don’t see the trend fading away anytime soon as it reaches far beyond NBA players but also to other athletes, entertainers, models and style icons. After all, what designer doesn’t want to cash on another way to merchandise their brand to a bigger chunk of a population?
Personally, I’m a little tired of it, but I also would love to get laser eye surgery and never have to worry about prescriptions, contacts and dry eyes again. But I don’t blame for those with perfect vision wanting to partake in eyewear trends outside of sunglasses as there are so many fabulous options available for men and women, both new and vintage. Take a look at Westbrook in a few of Black Optical’s finest pieces below and let me know what you think of his style choices. Does the point guard have sartorial smarts or is he just trying too hard to get his swagger right?