A GLAM SLAM TALKS NBA PLAYOFFS FASHION WITH STYLIST BRANDON WILLIAMS
Last season’s NBA Playoffs and Finals coverage focused heavily on fashion. Each post-game press conference produced sartorial winners and losers, prompting fans, media, and members of the fashion industry to join the conversation. The postseason continues to provide a forum for players to showcase their personal style. The game’s top stars strive to set themselves apart from their competition, through their clothing choices.
The Memphis Grizzlies are in the midst of an NBA Playoff run and Mike Conley’s on-court efforts have been matched by his fashion efforts. The Grizzlies’ point guard began working with NBA/NFL stylist, Brandon Williams, who has helped to bring out the best in his style game. The process of NBA Playoffs dressing begins long before teams are determined. For stylists like Williams, that means sourcing and saving exclusive finds so clients can put their most fashionable foot forward on the big stage. Williams’ understanding of his clients needs and wants, paired with his attention to detail, have helped him to succeed in garnering high-profile clientele.
A Glam Slam caught up with Brandon Williams to discuss the process and pressures of dressing an NBA player for the postseason, top trends, and a breakdown of Mike Conley’s fashion. For more on Williams, visit brandwills.com or follow him on twitter here and on instagram here. Check it out:
Can you talk a little bit about yourself, how long you’ve been styling, and some of the athletes you work/have worked with?
I started styling about three years ago with Eric Archibald, who is a well-known entertainment and celebrity fashion stylist based out of New York. My first client was Michael Redd who at the time, he was an Olympian and he is now on NBA TV. From there I went on to style Lance Moore, who is on the New Orleans Saints. Lance has become one of those guys where he started out slow in terms of grasping the concept behind having a stylist, but because of the work I’ve been able to do off-the-field and other things he’s seen, he gradually got more into it, so this season you’ll see a lot more from him. Then this past Summer I teamed up with Mike Conley who is on the Grizzlies. Now I’m also working with Mike Posner, who is a musician.
I’m a part of WWB Lifestyle Agency, which Calyann Barnett is also a part of. She’s Dwyane Wade’s stylist and Rajon Rondo. So that’s kind of our team right now and we are growing day by day.
What are the differences (if any) in dressing a player for the NBA postseason, as opposed to regular season games? Are there certain pieces you’ve kept on reserve for the playoffs?
Yes, totally. This year was one of the years where, from the get-go, we were planning for the playoffs. When planning for special occasions, All-Star and NBA Playoffs are pretty big stages. The one thing you want to keep in mind if you’re a player, those are times that you are really trying to own your imaging or your branding, and you want to be as marketable as possible. So there are a lot of things that we save and put aside in the closet specfically for the playoffs.
Can you briefly describe the process of dressing a player for the NBA postseason. How far in advance do you begin planning playoff fashions?
This year we started around late-January, early-February, because the seasons change over really quick. Like in LA and New York, the seasons change over quickly from Winter to Spring. A lot of these guys are still playing in decently cool climates so you want to grab things like leather jackets or anything that make sense for layering, and that’s exclusive, right away.
Last year’s NBA Playoffs/Finals received a lot of attention for player’s post-game fashions. Does that add more pressure this season, as players across the board are constantly striving to stand out?
It definitely is a lot of pressure. You spend all year trying to brand and create concepts and style from the ground up. This is pretty much the only place, without any of your own effort, that everyone in the world is going to see it. So you’re either going to be loved for it or you’re going to be hated for it, so I feel the pressure.
Most guys seem to have very distinct style preferences, but do you ever talk to other stylists, to ensure that two guys don’t end up wearing the same thing?
I haven’t had that much communication with other stylists because to be honest with you, there’s not too many stylists in sports that do it on a high level. There’s a couple of us. Courtney, who is Chris Paul’s stylist, myself, Calyann Barnett, Rachel Johnson and I believe Tyson Chandler’s stylist are probably at the forefront of it. With those few there, it’s not necessary really. That’s why we start really early on to try to grab things that are really unique.
I have to imagine if two players ever showed up post-game wearing the same item of clothing, it would garner a ton of attention.
Yes, I think so. I know I would think, oh shoot, I didn’t do my job. There are a ton of reasons why and how it could happen but I would definitely, as a stylist, feel like I let myself down and let my client down.
Speaking of your client, I want to talk about the first outfit Mike Conley wore during Game 1 of the playoffs. Can you talk about the ensemble and the inspiration behind it? How much input does he have into the process of choosing his attire?
I think right now we’re really on a good page because, from day one when we started working together, there’s been this consistent conversation to build an image, style-wise anyways. There are things that I can suggest that are not so outlandish to where he’s got to throw his heavy two cents in there and say, ‘I’m not going to wear that.’ I know where not to go.
For the first playoff outfit, I knew I wanted it to be something that would kind of show his arrival to prominence because for the last two years or three years, he’s kind of been on this climb as a player. On and off-the-court he’s a leader, but I wanted the first outfit make him feel like I’m important, with somewhat of an aristocratic vibe. That’s why we did the wide lapel and double-breasted. He’s also a very chill, relaxed individual. He’s not so much trying to be seen, he’s a very team oriented player. I wanted that to be reflected in the outfit, so kind of playful but also find ways to make it very serious. The blazer is really cool because it’s double-breasted, it’s a really aristocratic cut, it was a jersey knit material, like a sweatshirt. We had it custom made to wear so even though he looks the part, very serious, it still feels very comfortable. On the inside it had certain things that are very particular to their team, like on the inside of the jacket it said ‘Grit and Grind’ which was the Grizzlies mantra for the season. So I put that on the inside of the jacket as a reminder.
He wore a watch by Levi Maestro, a Becomb watch, so it doesn’t tell time but it reminds you that when you’re dedicated to what you love, time doesn’t exist. One the back of all of his sneakers I put his initials and his number. I wanted it to be like although he was stepping out of the box and stepping it up a notch in terms of his dress, I wanted there to be subtle reminders of the game and things that are very particular to him so that he would feel comfortable.
(Mike Conley’s Game 1 Look)
So is it fair to say that attention to detail is very important to you, in styling Conley and other clients?
Yes, I would say in terms of the actual clothing, that’s the number one thing. Detail. And that’s what we concentrate on. He has more of a classic style so you want to concentrate on fit, you want to concentrate on textures, you want to concentrate on patterns. All those things that come together that make a really awesome look and they play into who you are. I don’t ever want him to look styled, I want him to always look comfortable and I think that’s what we achieved. I think he gets so many compliments because the way he dresses is not trying to be anything, he’s really just bringing out his true self and that’s what we’ve been able to tap into.
Last year we saw lots of bright colors, lensless glasses and patterned polos. What are some of the trends you think we’ll see throughout the postseason this year?
I think lots of patterns, like pattern on pattern. You kind of saw that represented in what we did, in more of a toned down and tasteful way. With the arrival of the Russell Westbrooks to the fashion scene, everyone is trying to mimic this crazy style. I think people are still on the leather kick. All-Star Weekend was like a leather fiesta. So leather as well as camouflage. I think those are two things that are still prevalent but I think people are trying to find something else to do in terms of fashion for this year’s playoffs, and I think pattern on pattern is really huge. And accessories.
As a stylist, where do you find your inspiration?
The thing that helps me as a stylist is the skill of listening and understanding, I’m always inspired by that. I don’t believe in following trends necessarily, I know that’s something cliche to say, but I really believe in understanding who you’re working with and that’s really what inspires me. Understanding the way a person talks or understanding a person’s day-to-day routine, all of that has a look to me. When you find out what’s important to a person, you can understand what the moments are in their life. For someone’s career, that comes into play. For a guy like Mike Conley, I understand what’s important to him so for these playoffs, I understand the moment and so it’s easy for me to dress him.
(Mike Conley Game 2 Look)
(Mike Conley Game 3 Look)