By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma Fashion Week comes to an end tonight with its showcase event, the Red Carpet Fashion Show at the Cotter Ranch Tower (Chase Tower). The gala is expected to draw local celebrities, designers, manufacturers and those who just enjoy looking at beautiful people in great clothes.
It’s appropriate that the fashion show will take place 24 hours before another much-anticipated show will take place right down the street when the Oklahoma City Thunder kicks off its postseason run at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Since the Thunder arrived in Oklahoma, several of the team’s players have become known almost as much for their style as they are for their talents on the court. Russell Westbrook was recently featured on the cover of a national sports magazine in which the story focused primarily on how he dressed.
Whether it’s Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins or Derek Fisher, when they are not in uniform, each has shown they like to dress well.
Henry Ortiz, one of the organizers of OFW, admits that the attention Westbrook, Durant and other players have received because of their fashion was a reason they were able to make OFW happen.
“Westbrook, he’s one of my favorite guys,” Ortiz said. “He’s into style. Fashion is one thing. Style is another. And they’ve got style. They are bringing their style and putting it on television. It’s making it much easier for fashion week, especially for the men designers. They are making it much easier for us.”
Earlier this year, Durant sat down with Jane Keltner de Valle, a reporter from Teen Vogue, to talk women’s fashion. She came away very impressed with Durant and his overall sense of style.
“I would describe my style as off the wall,” Durant told Keltner de Valle. “I like stuff that doesn’t match. I just like to stand out.”
In a recent GQ article called "Inside The NBA's New Style Wars," the magazine listed its All-NBA of Style teams. Of the 10 players to appear on the list, eight come from fashion havens New York, Boston, L.A. and Miami. Oklahoma City garnered the other two.
The first team included Westbrook, Miami's Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, New York's Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. The second team is made up of Durant, the Clippers Chris Paul, Boston's Rajon Rondo, New York's Carmelo Anthony and the Heat's Chris Bosh.
The reasons players such as Durant, Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade now grace the covers of fashion magazines is due to the NBA enacting a dress code back in the 2005-06 season. Before then, players would routinely show up to games in sweat suits and T-shirts.
Commissioner David Stern felt the league had an image problem — that it was too “hip-hop.” So he banned items such as jerseys, jeans, hats, do-rags, T-shirts, large jewelry, sneakers and Timberland style boots. These are not allowed to be worn by players to interviews, games, charity events or any other occasion affiliated with the NBA or the NBDL.
Under current NBA dress regulations, if a player does not dress to participate in a game, he must dress in a manner suitable for a coach. In the NBA, a suit or a sport coat is required for coaches. In other words, business casual.
But pro athletes being who they are, they weren’t going to just do the minimum. Players began to show for post game press conference in three-piece suits and designer outfits. It became a best dressed contest.
Since then, the NBA has relaxed on the dress code, as evidenced by Westbrook showing up to a game wearing Capris and a T-shirt. But that hasn’t stopped players from wanting to stand out from the crowd.
Before each game this postseason, when players arrive hours before the tip-off, a camera will slowly follow them down the hallway as they make their way to the locker room. It will be a chance for them to showcase whatever new designer they are wearing or some new style they want the nation to see. It’s their own personal fashion show. They are there to impress.
“My style has changed and evolved mainly because I’ve grown to have more confidence in myself,” Durant told a writer this year. “The clothes are not making me. If I like it, that’s all that matters. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about how I am as a person and how confident I am.”
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