When we think of fashion, and fashion tech, we don’t often think of the athletic space (or, typically even men’s fashion.) Sports Illustrated has created a show called Sports Style Swipe that is working to change this. [Editor’s note: Yes, I am one of those people who love Cam Newton’s style.] We spoke with Anisha Bhasin Mukherjee, co-host of Sports Style Swipe, who gave us a front row perspective on this space.
Describe Sports Style Swipe.
Sports Style Swipe (SSS) is a weekly digital series on Sports Illustrated focused on the intersection of fashion and professional sports. The show is hosted by myself, former 11-year NFL Wide Receiver Nate Burleson and three time Emmy award-winner, Tiff Oshinsky. We critique the style hits and misses amongst professional athletes by swiping right if we like the outfit or swiping left if it could use some work.
In addition to playing fashion police, we also feature various guests each week, from athletes (NY Giants’ Justin Pugh) to fashion designers (Awl & Sundry) to stylists (Dex Rob). We have engaging interviews with our guests to discuss the significance of fashion and style in the sports world. We talk about everything from bomber jacket and top hat trends to what it’s like dressing 7 feet tall basketball players. Our objective is to give viewers a glance into their favorite athletes’ lives off the field and showcase their creative personalities when it comes to fashion.
What’s the backstory behind the show coming together?
SSS was the brainchild of myself, my co-host Tiff and SI’s senior editor, Andy Gray. Never before has fashion been so prevalent in professional sports, especially in the NFL and NBA, as it is now. Athletes literally treat the walk into the stadium and post game press conferences as their fashion runway and it’s always a competition of who’s best dressed, and more importantly, who took the most style risk. Athletes such as Cam Newton and Russell Westbrook have redefined the fashion game amongst their peers and are trailblazers in creating a platform for athletes to express themselves when their uniforms are off. We took note of this shift and the fact that athletes make it a habit to document each and every outfit they wear pre and post game.
These outrageous outfits (the good, the bad and the, well, very bad) needed their own show. Something fun, engaging but also useful. While critiquing the outfits, we always include style tips for our viewers since we know they often try and emulate their favorite players’ outfits. With digital video consumption being in its prime, the concept of SSS was a no brainer.
Could you tell us about your background and how it led to your role as co-host and fashion expert on Sports Style Swipe?
As the co-founder of fashion website and app DRESS FOR THE DAY, helping men (and women) figure out what to wear has sort of been my forte. From identifying top trends and figuring out how to incorporate them into various personal styles to putting together a black tie look on even the tightest budget, styling has been second nature to me. So much so, that I started working with Sports Illustrated several months before the show launched by answering style questions from readers and answering them in a weekly style guide.
We decided to take things one step further and combine men’s fashion do’s and don’ts by way of professional athletes, and do it all on video. As a result of my experience with DRESS FOR THE DAY, I not only co-host SSS and offer style expertise, but I also help create the content for each show, based on what I know the male demographic is seeking, in terms of fashion.
What value does Sports Style Swipe have that makes it stand out against other digital shows in the space?
The lack of male fashion video content is astounding. Most style shows and segments cater exclusively to women, operating under the assumption that men don’t care about style. Wrong! In fact, men seek fashion advice significantly more than women, but the problem is, there aren’t enough resources for them. Men are less likely to text a selfie to their buddies asking if the shoes match the belt, so they are in dire need of other forms of guidance. We’ll tell men where to get distressed denim without breaking the bank, how a blazer should fit if you have wide shoulders, and what staple items you should have in your closet for the fall. SSS debunks the myth that fashion and sports are mutually exclusive by being the first show of its kind dedicated to style and all professional sports. The two worlds are colliding in a major way and I’m so excited to be tapping into this market with SSS.
What do you see for the future of fashion and sports?
Fashion and sports are going to continue to have a symbiotic relationship well into the future. And with each being multi-billion dollar industries, it would only make sense that they leverage off of each other. As more and more athletes become cognizant of the fact that it’s vital for them to create brand recognition off the field, I predict that fashion collaborations, outside of just athletic wear, will expand. Partnerships such as Russell Westbrook X True Religion and Anthony Davis X Saks Fifth Avenue are just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to partnerships with established brands, I think athletes will start to create their own collections and lines in either a fast fashion price point or high end luxury. Such collections will span from ready to wear to accessories and shoes. The men’s grooming product industry (hair gels, shave cream, etc.) is also relatively untapped in terms of athlete collaborations so this could be another area of interest, since so many athletes treat their hairstyles and facial hair as accessories.
With e-commerce sales continuing to rapidly increase, I wouldn’t be surprised if some athletes crossed over to the fashion tech space, perhaps launching shopping apps. With the gaming industry being another obvious outlet for athletes, it would also be interesting to see an athlete star in some sort of fashion game. The possibilities are endless but it’s inspiring to see sports icons not afraid to step up their style, with no shame in their game!
Learn more about Sports Style Swipe by checking out their videos on Sports Illustrated and watching an episode below.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables. Images from si.com and Anisha Bhasin Mukherjee.