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Take one look at runway shows, city streets, red carpets and Instagram feeds and you’ll see the familiar faces of the world’s top athletes sporting a different look. Off the court or field, outside of the ring or away from the ice, these sports stars do away with uniforms and team colors and opt for attire more suitable to their varying personalities and tastes. From statement-makers to trendsetters, to classic gentlemen, sneakerheads and the designers building brands, athletes prove that fashion just isn’t about what you wear, it’s also about how you wear it and why you wear it. ​

As the worlds of sports and style continue to collide, the editors of Sports Illustrated unveil the third annual Fashionable 50 list, honoring the world’s most stylish athletes.​

Featured in the July 16, 2018, issue of Sports Illustrated, this year's list was selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers in the industry and includes the most fashionable athlete in sports right now.

Style Experts

The Most Fashionable Athlete of 2018

Photos by LEBRECHTMEDIA. Jacket, shorts and leggings: Louis Vuitton. Shirt: Gucci. Shoes: Nike Element React '87. Jewelry: Gabe the Jeweler. Styling by Jason Rembert. Grooming by Barry White.

Track suit: Gucci. Glasses: Tom Ford.

Trench coat: Dsquared2. Bomber jacket: Dior. Pants: Ovadia & Sons. Boots: Louis Vuitton.

Odell Beckham Jr.

New York Giants

Before the thick beard and the blond ’do, before the collage of hundreds of tattoos covered his body, before the Spiderman-like, three-finger snag that broke the Internet, Odell Beckham Jr. had a pink velvet blazer. Even as a teenager getting ready for his middle school dance, the Giants wide receiver always had to find a way to stand out.

“Everybody was getting their suits and I was wondering, What can I do to be different?” he recalls. “That blazer might have been a size too big at the time, but I just had to have it. To me, it was the hottest thing in the world.”

After that Sunday-night snatch against the Cowboys as a rookie in 2014, Beckham soared playoffs into stardom, setting league records, grabbing headlines (for both touchdowns and controversies) and earning endorsement deals and invites to A-list events in the seasons that followed. But last October, a fractured ankle in Week 5 knocked him out of the NFL spotlight and slowed his social momentum. So after undergoing surgery, the 25-year-old embarked on a don’t-forget-about-me tour, putting on a fashion show every time he stepped out. First it was weeks spent in a custom Supreme x Louis Vuitton red walking boot, then shirtless workouts in leopard-print shorts. There were nights out with rapper Drake, courtside seats at NBA games and scores of painful ink sessions to complete a pair of full leg sleeves that run hip to ankle. (On his right side he has a “leg of legends” with portraits of Tupac, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Prince, Jesse Owens, Heath Ledger as the Joker and more; his left is a “jungle theme” with zebras, giraffes and other animals.) It all provided a glimpse into the personality of an enigmatic, unapologetic and eccentric star.

LEBRECHTMEDIA

“I’m weird,” he says on a Friday in June in New York City, a collar of layered diamond chains glittering around his neck. “I think I just naturally stand out.”

True, that. While walking to the Saks Fifth Avenue store in downtown Manhattan, Beckham is casually dressed in gray sweat shorts with the hood of a blue Amiri pullover covering up his cockscomb of bleached curls, and it’s clear he no longer needs a flashy jacket to attract attention. He can barely walk a few feet before someone takes notice of him and scurries over to snap a photo. He compares the experience with that of being in a zoo.

Odell Beckham Jr.

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“You know how you go there and you look at the lions and tigers and elephants?” he says. “You’re not there to talk to them, you’re just there to stare. That’s how I feel. It is what it is, but there’s no privacy anymore.” More subdued attire might help, but that’s too big a price to pay.

It’s the reason he prefers dark-lensed sunglasses to trendier colored ones—“people be all up in my eyes”—and why, according to his mom, Heather Van Norman, he generally doesn’t talk to people, especially recently. Instead, Beckham fills the void by murmuring song lyrics, mostly to himself but sometimes aloud or in the middle of a conversation. “That’s just O,” says Van Norman, Beckham’s chief adviser and confidante.

Inside the store, Beckham runs precise routes through racks of clothes, avoiding anything in the royal-blue family and gravitating towards red, his favorite color. He also steers clear of long pants; he prefers shorts so he can expose his tattoos. Beckham’s style is bold and distinct, a mix of sport and street with a steady flow of designer labels: Supreme, Gucci and Balenciaga, to name a few. You’ll rarely see him in a suit, but after signing a five-year, million deal with Nike in 2017, he’s almost always spotted with a pair of Swoosh sneakers swaddling his size 11 feet. His looks have even sparked a fan’s Instagram account (@objfits), which makes it hard to repeat an outfit more than once or twice. “It’s all a little bit different to me,” says Beckham, who as a kid growing up in a modest New Orleans home would go out in clashing colors because he was just so eager to play and really didn’t care about what he was wearing.

Beckham is loving every minute of this new life football has created for him, even as he enters a 2018 season shrouded in doubt about his health and his place in the Giants’ offense. Just turn up the speakers and blast the beats and you’ll see Beckham come alive, those melodic mutters transformed into coordinated dance moves for every lyric in the song. “Dancing to music fuels my soul,” says Beckham, who struts with the same assertiveness on the field. “Not everybody can do what I do with the swag that I have. It’s just a confidence thing.”

While his time away from football has unmistakably allowed Beckham to upgrade his style, it’s also given him time to reflect on how he got here. “I remember taking football for granted at times,” he says. “When it’s stripped away from you, you appreciate it more. I’m just ready to get back on the field, honestly.” Whether he’ll return to New York under the last year of his rookie contract for.5 million, or hold out during training camp and demand more is the lingering question.

In Saks, a few shirts from Virgil Abloh’s Off-White collection caught Beckham’s eye. “There’s something about his work—it’s done but it has an unfinished touch to it,” he says. Beckham knows there’s unfinished business to be taken care of. It’s going to be unpredictable, but we say: Start the music, raise the volume and just wait and see what move Odell Beckham Jr. comes up with next. 

THEY'VE HOISTED TROPHIES AND EARNED SPORTING HONORS AROUND THE GLOBE, BUT THESE SEVEN STYLE MVPs ARE ALSO DISTINGUISHED FOR THEIR FEATS IN THE FASHION WORLD

Lewis Hamilton

Formula One

 

Photos by Taylor Ballantyne. Glasses: Tommy Hilfiger Gigi collection. Jacket: vintage Tommy Hilfiger from archives. T-shirt: Enfants Riches Deprimes. Shorts: AMI. Socks: Tommy Hilfiger. Sneakers: Puma.

Jacket and shirt: Tommy Hilfilger.

Coat and pants: Marr. Shoes: Givenchy.

 You’d think it would be tough to match the thrill of racing a car full throttle at more than 200 mph. But when Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton walked into the Brooklyn Museum in early June to attend the CFDA Fashion Awards, the annual event that honors the best in American design, he experienced a buzz almost as heady (and it wasn’t from the gala’s plentiful flow of tequila).

“There were so many creative people from different walks of life who are constantly doing things that are out of the ordinary,” says the 33-year-old Hamilton, who in 2017 became only the fifth driver in F1 history to win four world titles. “I’ve been racing a long, long time, and every year you want to find ways to raise the bar. And that’s the inspiration for me.”

Hamilton’s love affair with racing began at age eight, when he would spend weekends with his dad racing remote-control cars and then, eventually, go-karts. After breaking into the sport at 21 and roaring to its pinnacle 15 months later, Hamilton says his interest in fashion also began to flourish. At 5'9" and 150 pounds with a cool, courteous demeanor accentuated by his British accent, Hamilton is hardly an imposing figure. But his style speaks loud and clear with a bold palette and an urban chic sensibility.

“When I was younger, I was definitely in my shell, but now I take a lot of risks,” Hamilton says. “Hopefully when people see what I wear, they are encouraged to try something new.”

Beyond inspiring new looks—a capsule collection collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy x Lewis, will arrive this fall—Hamilton wants to be a part of the cultural movement that blends the worlds of sports and fashion. “Fashion is an expression of how you feel, and it’s a way for you to establish who you are,” he says. “I think it’s important that athletes are not just seen as entertainers. We are actually quite more than that.”

FAVORITE DESIGNERS: “Off-White. I love what Supreme has been doing. Givenchy. Louis Vuitton is always a go-to. John Varvatos. Gucci."

STYLE IDOLS AND INSPIRATIONS: “As a kid I was heavily influenced by hip-hop. Tupac is my favorite artist and he had mad style. But if there’s anybody, Pharrel has really been a style icon for me. He’s never shied away from doing something quite bold. He doesn’t really care what other people think—he just goes his own way with it. And I love that."

STYLE MOTTO: “Be you. Feel comfortable. Be bold.”

 

Maria Sharapova

WTA tennis

The five-time Grand Slam champion always aces her modern-chic style by effortlessly mixing classic, casual and elegant pieces.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus

From incredible goals to impassioned celebrations, there’s no denying that Portugal’s famed forward has style on the field. But he scores outside of the game too, nailing slim-fit suits or casual, distressed denim looks with ease, while serving as the creative mind behind his CR7 clothing line. 

 

Francois Durand/Getty Images for Dior

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tom Ford

Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder

After being named NBA MVP in 2017, the self-proclaimed Fashion King showed no signs of slowing down this past season, averaging a triple double for the second straight year while arriving for every one of the Thunder’s 92 preseason, regular season and playoff games in a fresh look. The 29-year-old also continued his surge in the style world, launching his own fashion label called Honor the Gift, a collection of unisex streetwear inspired by the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hawthorne that helped shape him growing up. What’s next for the NBA’s sartorial sovereign? After storming the streets of Paris for Fashion Week in June, Westbrook heads back to training for another season with OKC—and yet another daily display of his unorthodox, unmatched style.

"What I love about Russell is his authenticity. His genuine appreciation for fashion and his ability to push the limits has truly opened the door for athletes in the fashion space."

 

 

Andre Iguodala

Golden State Warriors

A 14-year NBA vet, the Warriors’ forward is a perennial style leader thanks to his versatile and clean-cut choices.

FAVORITE ITEM OF CLOTHING: “Right now, Good Counsel joggers—lightweight, navy blue wool—that I can take with me on or off-court.”

FAVORITE DESIGNER: “Ralph Lauren, because of the iconic, effortless style.”

STYLE MOTTO: “Classic, with a point of view. On any given day, I’m dropping my son off to school, headed to the game, going to an investment meeting—my style has to be ready for everything.”

 

Misty Copeland

Ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre

In 2015, Copeland made history when she became the first African American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Since then, she’s continued to break down barriers, launching an Under Armour activewear collection and expertly demonstrating how to find pieces that flatter her 5’2” frame.

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

 

LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers

The coordinating formal attire of King James & Co. went viral during the NBA playoffs, but how did the league’s unlikely fashion trend come to life?

Dwyane Wade and designer Thom Browne were sitting at Cipriani’s in Manhattan last October before the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars—an award ceremony honoring designers at the top of their games—when Browne had an idea. What if he created custom, matching suits for the Cavaliers to wear during the NBA playoffs in the spring? Browne, who’s been a favorite of LeBron James’s for years, loved the idea of the team presenting a unified front.

“They’re all the most amazing singular individuals, but with the suits, they would put that aside for the playoffs and become this strong unit,” Browne says.



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