Interviews Men’s Fashion

Russell Westbrook on His Bold New True Religion Collection, Designing Womenswear & Going Twinsies

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If you follow professional basketball on any level, you have witnessed the boldness of Russell Westbrook, he of the nasty crossover and risk-taking personal style. Like Dwyane Wade (whose Stance socks we love), Westbrook has two lives: athlete and fashion conversation starter.

He just stepped out as a serious collaborator with True Religion, designing a strong collection of tapered jeans and long, eminently layerable shirts. They look good on the Internet but there’s a solidness and soft feel to the pieces that comes through in person.

We caught up with Westbrook on the phone to talk about all that–as well as his fashion industry goals and why he’s not interested in designing a basketball uniform.

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Shop: Russell Westbrook x True Religion

Related: The History of True Religion and Hip-Hop

Nordstrom blogs: Congratulations, this collection is a great look for True Religion as a brand and for you as a designer. How are you feeling about it?

Russell Westbrook: Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m feeling great, man. I’m excited. I’ve been calling True Religion asking about when can I post about it, when can I talk about it. I’m excited that the time is now. Can’t wait to see the response from people around the world.

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What was your actual involvement as a designer?

I picked all the fabrics and washes. I sat down with True Religion and tried to do something different, with me as a curator. We came up with a lot of different pieces that can be layered, be versatile, you can wear together or independently.

Were there any pieces or details you knew you wanted to create, going in?

Most important for me was comfort. We have a nice, white distressed t-shirt that you can wear for a long period of time. It’s a great piece. I wanted all the pieces to be soft and comfortable that people can wear and feel great in. And again, the versatility was key for me. I wanted the pieces to lend themselves naturally to layering. It’s open to the interpretation of the person wearing the collection. And I wanted to make sure the materials and washes were perfect.

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It’s an easy collection to style, especially with the lengths of the shirts. I think guys are going to have fun with the mixing and matching.

Yeah, that was important. How can you incorporate wearing your t-shirt, with your tank top, with your jacket? Hopefully those connections just reveal themselves through the design of the clothes.

How are you thinking about what type of shoe to wear with these jeans?

You can wear anything. Most of them are slim fit. The Rocco fit which True Religion has–kind of a relaxed skinny fit–I think you can wear boots, low tops, high tops. I think you can go any way.

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How do you think about dressing on the court versus off the court?

In the game, man, I don’t dress for style. It doesn’t matter how you look, for me; it’s how you play when you get on the court. Off the court there’s a lot of different ways for me to express my style, especially now with the new dress code. There’s different ways to express how I feel whether I’m at an event that has something to do with the fashion world or just hanging out.

Would you ever want to design a basketball uniform?

Not really. I want to stick to designing clothes. Clothes are something that I like. Basketball uniforms are cool, too, but at the end of the day like I’m saying, I don’t think it should matter that much how you look in that situation. It’s how you play.

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Would you ever consider designing womenswear?

Yes. I definitely want to have a line. This is my first collection, though, so I’m trying to take one step at a time and not move too fast. But definitely. There’s an opportunity for me to do that. I have to learn a lot more about womenswear. It’s a little different from menswear. Once I develop my own ideas, it’s something I’ll start considering more seriously.

Do you draw ideas on hotel napkins? How do you come up with designs?

I use my mind, man. I’m not great at drawing, but I have different ideas throughout my day. Traveling around the world I’m able to create different things in my mind. I like to be creative and try different things. I’m inspired by new color combinations, different materials together that you might not have immediately thought about. I don’t draw much. But I can explain it to someone who can draw.

Who are people you like to discuss style with?

Honestly I don’t talk much about style to too many other people other than bouncing ideas off True Religion or other brands I work with. I try and think of new and different things and I guess I’m very much in my own head about it.

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So you and other players don’t try and one-up each other at press conferences or anything, or talk about the different impacts you’re making with your public images?

No, no. I don’t worry about anybody else. I’m so locked in on what I need to do. And what I need to do to expand.

Who are some of your style heroes?

My mom is my style hero. She did a great job of dressing myself, my brother, my dad, myself. Keeping us in tune with what was happening in the fashion world. That’s definitely where I get my creativity from. I don’t know where she got it. God’s gift, I believe: it’s a blessing to have creative mind and sometimes think outside the box. She dressed me and my brother as twins sometimes, and everything she did, I liked. I never complained about that. She’s definitely proud of me doing this work now.