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How Athletes are Redefining High Fashion's Playbook

Julian Love of the Seattle Seahawks
Julian Love by Zero Five Photography

Last spring, Nfm was ahead of the curve, featuring the Seattle Seawolves Rugby team and NFL stars like DK Metcalf and Julian Love on our covers. Now, the fashion world is catching up, and athletes across all sports are becoming style icons. It's not just about the big names anymore either. Hold onto your shearling bombers, because I told you so, and the trend is hotter than a runway spotlight. Athletes, not just the LeBron Jameses and Serena Williamses of the world, are taking the fashion world by storm. And this time, it's the underdogs, the Olympians, the rugby stars, who will be stealing the show.

These athletes are redefining what it means to be a brand ambassador and style icon. Their presence on social media has made them attractive to brands looking for untapped reservoirs of cool. They're not just sitting front row; they're walking runways and influencing trends. The NFL, echoing the NBA's trend, has been showcasing footballers in their pre-game 'fits' – a move that's gaining popularity and will likely explode next season.

Forget front-row fillers - think brand ambassadors, runway walkers, and street style icons. Yes, that niche athlete you follow on Instagram with the killer crossover dribble or the spine-tingling backflip is rubbing elbows with Zendaya at Louis Vuitton and slaying runway looks at Milan Fashion Week.

Why the sudden shift? Social media, baby. These athletes have built loyal, global followings, making them marketing goldmines with an edge. They're authentic, inspiring, and bring something fresh to the fashion scene. And brands, thirsty for new audiences and tired of predictable partnerships, are taking notice.

Imagine watching Marcus Rashford share a red carpet with Kim K (been there, done that!), or track star Alica Schmidt strutting down the Hugo Boss runway (twice!). It's exhilarating, unexpected, and a testament to the ever-blurring lines between sports and style. But hold on, this isn't just about runway glam. There's serious business behind the scenes. Enter the new breed of power players: the sports-fashion dealmakers. These are your Naayaab Tanias and Frederic Vilches, ex-athletes and industry insiders who bridge the gap between muscle and mousseline. They're matchmakers, image consultants, and gatekeepers to the VIP sections of fashion week.

Remember Danny Williams, the footballer-turned-streetwear mogul? He's schooling brands on athlete collaborations, taking Leroy Sané around fashion week like a pro. These guys are redefining the athlete image, one tailored suit and edgy sneaker at a time.

Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken
Matty Beniers by Zero Five Photography

But it's not all sunshine and champagne. Fashion week for athletes isn't a cakewalk. Clashes with training schedules, fan backlash (remember Serge Gnabry's fashion faux pas?), and the fickle nature of the industry all present challenges. Yet, the tide is turning. Sporting organizations are realizing the potential of their athletes beyond the playing field, and athletes themselves are embracing their dual identities as sports stars and style icons.

The rise of the niche athlete in the fashion world is about to explode like never before. A trend I saw coming from a mile away, and one that's only going to get bigger. Watch out, front row regulars, the new power players are here to stay, and they're bringing their game faces and killer style. This trend, which Nfm saw coming, is just getting started. Athletes like Julian Love are redefining quiet luxury and DK Metcalf is bending fashion rules, and as they do, fans are seeing their favorite sports stars in a new light – not just as athletes, but as fashion trendsetters. This month, we continue this narrative by featuring Matty Beniers, showcasing local talents who excel both in their sport and in style.

Get ready for the athlete takeover, because the future of fashion is game on!


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