Interviews Men’s Fashion Style

Russell Wilson Steps into the Style Game with Good Man Brand

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Images by Suzi Pratt / Getty for Nordstrom

You know him from throwing the pigskin on TV, where he is simply one of the most electrifying quarterbacks to ever play the game. You know him also, perhaps, from his red carpet outings with the pop music star Ciara.

But did you know Russell Wilson is into fashion? Not only because he’s well-dressed but also because he has cofounded Good Man Brand, a collection of modern essentials made in Italy for guys who need to level up their style game.

During a public appearance at our Seattle flagship store, Wilson spoke with our own Pete Nordstrom about the philanthropic angle of his business, his perception of himself as a man dating up and the origin of Good Man Brand.

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SHOP: Good Man Brand

Pete Nordstrom: We met a year ago and here we are now. What can you tell the people about the Good Man Brand?

Russell Wilson: It’s gonna be a beautiful thing. Essentially—I’m not sure if you guys know this—my faith, football and family are obviously really important to me, but I have two hobbies I really love to do. One of them is I love houses. I love looking up houses all over the world. Interiors, exteriors. I screenshot them, save them. I have a whole file of houses. Same thing with fashion, with clothes. GQ Magazine: I have tons of those at my house. Tons of files in my Dropbox.

So about a year ago, I was just leaving a restaurant, driving, and my good buddy Dean [Holly]—who I’ve been friends with since I moved to Seattle, been in the clothing business 30 years, done an unbelievable job of it—I ended up calling him at 9:30 at night. I said, “Dean, I have this idea.” He said, “What idea? What’s going on?” I said, “I want to do a fashion line. How do we do it?” That’s basically how we started. He said, “Let me call you back in a few days.” He called back an hour later. He was like, “Where you at?” This is Friday. I said, “I’m actually about to fly to New York and stay there until Wednesday.” He said, “I’ll fly out and meet you there. Let’s meet Sunday night.” I was already prepared. I saved all these photos of what I wanted to do. Dean was already successful. It was an exciting time. We met in New York City, and we sat down for what was only supposed to be an hourlong meeting. Next thing you know, it’s three, four hours in….

SEATTLE, WA - FEBRUARY 29: Co-president of Nordstrom Pete Nordstrom interviews Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at Nordstrom on February 29, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Nordstrom)

Pete Nordstrom and Russell Wilson at the Seattle Downtown Nordstrom store

We learned that about you: You’re an enthusiastic guy.

For sure. Basically three, four hours later we knew which direction we wanted to go. Dean and Scott [Bonomo], my other partner, were already working on something and had some ideas they wanted to bring to fashion as well. A month later, we’re meeting at my house in San Diego at my kitchen table. We decided on the name Good Man, and we’re ready to go with it. Sitting at my table, this is where it gets cool, we knew we had the experience. Combined 70 years in the fashion industry; I only have a year, but the other guys are experienced. But I knew what I wanted to do and we agreed: have a great, modern-classic sense of style and pay homage to the past. And then I asked the guys, I said, “If we’re going to name it Good Man Brand, we need to define what a Good Man is. What is a Good Man?”

So when I was thinking about that, I immediately thought of my dad. Who he is, what he did. I miss him every day. He worked hard. He was patient, kind, giving, loving. He inspired. He inspired me. And he gave back. That’s where Good Man really clicked; we decided to give back three dollars. Obviously my [football] number’s three, but also our motto—lead, inspire, live—that’s three words. We decided to donate three dollars per purchase to the Why Not You Foundation, which is my foundation. So if you buy two shirts and a pair of pants, that’s nine dollars right there. It’s going to be a good thing for inner-city higher education.

SEATTLE, WA - FEBRUARY 29: Nordstrom co-president Pete Nordstrom and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson pose for a photo at Nordstrom on February 29, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Nordstrom)

Left to right: Scott Bonomo, president and cofounder; Pete Nordstrom; Russell Wilson; Dean Holly, cofounder; Alex Navarro, sales director

You and I talked about common perils of celebrity brands. And also that the first thing people assume is that Good Man is going to be an athletics brand. What is your idea about what you want this brand to be?

The image in my head is aspirational. Imagine a 24-year-old guy who’s searching for his first real good job, the job that gives him the chance to do all the things he wants to do for his family down the road. That guy needs to get ready for his first big interview. It’s also for the guy who’s 27 years old, like myself, dating way out of his league, and needs to dress up and be fashionable. And it’s for the guy who’s 65 years old and has inspired so many people in his lifetime and now he’s retired and has grandkids, but he’s been wearing a suit all day his whole life, and now he wants to kick back. It’s a lifestyle brand. It’s an attitude.

I think that’s impressive because a lot of brands pitch us on a celebrity angle, and it doesn’t always work. You have a good plan, and our buyers trust you and like the brand. It’s not just because it’s Russell Wilson, not just because it’s Seattle. These are great clothes that we can sell. As this rolls out, because this is the launch, how do you see yourself identified with the brand?

SEATTLE, WA - FEBRUARY 29: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson poses for a photo at Nordstrom on February 29, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Nordstrom)

Dean, Tom, Scott and I are the ones putting the hard work into it. But honestly, I’m not going to be the guy all over the pictures. I have a day job playing football. But I do love fashion. I don’t want the brand to be celebrity-driven. I want it to last because of its great clothes, great style, great edge. I believe it’s going to sell so many clothes that it’s going to be the top-selling brand, that’s what I believe. Ultimately, besides that, I think about the impact we can have on the culture. The culture of music and sports, I think there’s an opportunity for a positive change. To influence the next generation to come.

That’s great. Anything else you want everyone here to know? You’ve got a great, captive audience.

As this company continues to aspire and inspire millions of people all over the world–when we have company meetings, at the end we say, “Be good.” It’s a mentality of instilling good in the world. It’s crucial. Also, “Lead, inspire, live.” It’s our motto and it’s our hashtag, #leadinspirelive. To be here and have this opportunity, it’s been a lot of hard work and you have to be prepared. It’s all really cool stuff. It’s a special thing.