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The bad kits, bling jewellery and tight shorts won’t disappear entirely. But now fashion seems to have become a second career for an increasing number of athletes eager to expand their brand or, perhaps even, to prolong their moment in the spotlight. In return, fashion houses get global exposure and campaign stars with a ready-made fan base. Here are the collaborations to look out for in 2014.
Magnus Carlsen and G-Star RAW
Carlsen is the world number one chess player and holder of the highest score ever achieved in the game’s rating system. He earned about £2m from commercial sponsorships in 2013, according to his manager, Espen Agdestein, making the 23-year-old Norwegian the closest thing chess has to a celebrity – or “the Justin Bieber of chess”, as he is sometimes called. Not that he is conventional model material: his rugged appearance is better suited to a boxing ring than a catwalk. Still, Dutch fashion company G-Star RAW featured him in its adverts alongside actress Liv Tyler in 2010 and he returns for G-Star RAW’s new campaign, this time with supermodel Lily Cole. Shubhankar Ray, G-Star RAW’s global brand director, says: “We believe in unorthodox thinking and unexpected collaborations. Magnus challenges the conventions of chess through his style of play and exemplifies the unexpected approach of G-Star because he looks tough and not like a typical chess player.”
David Beckham and Belstaff
For Becks, there have been style victories and there have been losses. His forays into fashion started ominously, with a sarong. No stranger to an endorsement, he has since appeared in campaigns for labels including H&M, Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana. Next up: Belstaff. From March, he fronts the British label’s 2014 global advertising campaign, in which Beckham leads “a band of brothers across the English countryside”. “As a style icon, bike collector and thrill seeker, David is the perfect fit with our DNA,” says Damian Mould, Belstaff’s chief marketing officer. Football’s clotheshorse returns the compliment: “About six years ago I was looking for a cool biker jacket. I went into a store and came across a vintage Belstaff jacket. I’ve worn it ever since.”
Chandler Parsons and Buffalo
The rivalry among NBA stars has recently spilled off the court and into high fashion. Players have turned up for games wearing red leather trousers, glasses with no lenses and patterned silk shirts – and that’s just Russell Westbrook, point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder and three-time NBA All-Star, who recently featured in a Levi’s advert.
Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers’ 6ft 6in shooting guard and one of basketball’s all-time greats, is an ambassador for Swiss watchmaker Hublot. NBA superstar Dwyane Wade has designed a collection of silk bow ties, pocket squares and neckties for The Tie Bar. More recently, Chandler Parsons has partnered with denim label Buffalo David Bitton for its spring 2014 line. The commercial shows the 6ft 9in star of the Houston Rockets rolling around on a beach with female model Ashley Sky in nothing but navy jeans and an open white shirt.
Josef Craig and Jack Wills
Craig, the British Paralympic swimmer who won a gold medal in world record time in the 400m freestyle event at the 2012 London Paralympics when aged just 15, approached Jack Wills to feature in one of its campaigns. The preppy brand accepted the offer and will feature him in its “Young Brits” spring 2014 campaign. The label generally shuns advertising in favour of social media and organised events – Craig is set to appear at a series of in-store events in February and March – but it also generates buzz for its collections by each year sending out four catalogues, or “handbooks”. Advance pictures from the spring 2014 handbook show Craig in blazers, polo shirts and jeans in the label’s signature colours of pink and navy blue. There’s some gold too – in one image, Craig points to the Olympic medal around his neck.
Mikey DeTemple and Jack Spade
Compared with most professional athletes, surfers are ancient, often competing well into their forties. But Mikey DeTemple made his break early, winning his first professional competition at 16. Now in his mid-twenties, the New Yorker continues to dominate the east coast’s surf scene. He also makes surfing films and in November last year teamed up with Mercedes-Benz for an advert that follows DeTemple from Manhattan to the Long Island coast where he surfs. DeTemple will also feature in Jack Spade’s spring/summer campaign. Dan Lakhman, marketing and creative director at Jack Spade, says: “Our spring collection was inspired by seaside towns outside of New York City and the transition in mindset that occurs between urban life and these coastal sanctuaries.”
Juan Mata and Hackett
Footballers have been known to wear bad suits: think of the loosely-fitted, off-white Giorgio Armani outfits Liverpool wore in the 1996 FA Cup final at Wembley, or the burgundy Dolce & Gabbana three-piece Lionel Messi wore to the Ballon d’Or awards in January. No matter. Men’s luxury brands are increasingly keen to put footballers in smart threads: recently, Lanvin became the official tailor of Arsenal; Brooks Brothers of Inter Milan; Versace of Real Madrid; and Hackett of Chelsea. Juan Mata, the Spanish footballer who Manchester United signed from Chelsea last week for a club record £37.1m, is one of Hackett’s sporting ambassadors. “He represents style both on and off the pitch,” says Jeremy Hackett, the brand’s chairman and co-founder. This is all well and good but Mata’s new club has its own tailor of choice: Paul Smith. Perhaps another sort of transfer is on the cards for the 25-year-old Spanish international.