By Mesfin Fekadu AP
NEW YORK — Go shopping with powerhouse basketball player Russell Westbrook — whose colorful style has made headlines outside of sports — and you’ll probably be surprised by his favorite section: the sale rack.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star player roams around Barneys New York Inc. on Madison Avenue, and when I suggest a fitted dark blue leather jacket, the point guard reacts: “No, ’cause I know it costs like US$3,000.”
Westbrook says he’s not going to buy the most expensive clothes just because he can afford it. “I may look at it, see how much it costs and then decide if I’m going to get it or not.”
The Long Beach, California-born athlete said he did think about price points when collaborating with Barneys for his new line, Westbrook-XO-Barneys New York. It launched in stores and online Thursday, and includes pieces from Jordan, Marcelo Burlon County of Milan, Naked & Famous, Want Les Essentiels de la Vie and more.
“Definitely. That was a big thing,” he said about deciding prices for the line. “But also, if it’s in Barney’s … it’s got to be higher than your normal (price).”
Westbrook, 25, says other companies approached him about collaborating on a fashion line, but explains, “There’s no better place than Barneys.”
It’s no surprise that fashion houses want to cash in on the Westbrook brand. His style has made noise, from his polka dots to colored rimmed glasses to knee-high fitted pants. On Wednesday night at the ESPY Awards, where Westbrook was named best comeback athlete after returning from three knee operations in a year, host Drake imitated the athlete by wearing a bright yellow vest, bowtie and green pants.
Westbrook said he wasn’t really into fashion as a child, though he admired his mother’s style. “It’s something that kind of happened for me over time,” he said.
“I am obviously able to buy more things I like and spend a little more money. It happened for me in that way and kind of took off from there.”
Does he consider himself the most stylish guy in the NBA?
“I just feel like I have my own style,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of guys have stylists and things, which I don’t … It’s not something that I have to do, it’s something I like to do.”
Some of his teammates and friends have asked for his advice when it comes to dressing up, which also makes him laugh: “Even though they may disagree on some of the things I wear, they still come and ask.”
Westbrook has loads of clothes. He says he usually wears his tops once, then gives them away. He will wear his pants a few times, “but it depends, if they’re like floral pants” he doesn’t keep them.
During this trip — where he sports a baby blue T-shirt and basketball shorts — he snags a good number of items, from a loose black Baja East top to a pair of Helmut Lang shirts. His selection also includes a multicolored sweater, white pants, army green jacket and black sweater vest with white spots.
While some of his fashion choices for press conferences and the red carpet have been wild, Westbrook says he doesn’t regret any of them: “I don’t walk out of the house and say, ‘Nah.’ I’m confident in whatever I’m wearing.”
He says other men often make the mistake of trying too hard when getting dressed.
“You put too much stuff on, you got too much stuff going … trying to force it — if it’s not you, then don’t do it,” he said. “But then if that’s how you dress, then that’s fine.”