‘Fly is fly’: Contained in the WNBA’s thriving vogue scene

Garments blanket Jewell Loyd’s completely made king-sized resort mattress. Black pants, charcoal pants, striped shorts, an extended white jacket that appears like a high-fashion lab coat subsequent to a light-weight grey zip-up. A white, short-sleeved button down high adorned with crimson poppy flowers screams within the middle.

“What are we feeling?” stylist Sydney Bordonaro asks Loyd.

On any given day, WNBA gamers can supply a big selection of solutions to the easy query. They’re feeling cozy. Typically swaggy. Different instances horny.

At all times prepared.

Loyd is feeling “mafia in the summertime” as she appears to be like at herself within the mirror wearing black pinstripe pants, the crimson floral shirt she hesitantly grew to love and low-top Dior x Air Jordan 1 sneakers that retail for greater than $8,000. She’s solely worn them as soon as, however this outfit is for an important day: the WNBA All-Star Recreation.

A close-up view of Jewell Loyd's Dior x Air Jordan 1 shoes.

A detailed-up view of Jewell Loyd’s Dior x Air Jordan 1 sneakers.

(Meg Oliphant / For The Instances)

The Seattle guard walked the orange carpet in her prized sneakers on Friday because the WNBA gathered in Chicago for All-Star weekend. The league’s brightest stars confirmed off their finest appears to be like. All-Star group captain A’ja Wilson surprised in black leather-based shorts and thigh-high boots. Candace Parker, welcoming the midseason occasion to her hometown, rocked an olive inexperienced silk swimsuit.

Gone are the times of the stuffy pant swimsuit or easy shirt and pencil skirt. For a league that pushed a historically female and heteronormative picture in its early years, the WNBA has grown to embrace androgynous vogue and streetwear alongside robes, mini attire and heels.

Merely put: “Fly is fly,” Bordonaro stated.

The change that introduced the WNBA to the highest of fashion-savvy social media feeds is “like night time and day,” Seattle level guard Sue Chicken stated.

The 21-year veteran who will retire on the finish of the season remembered a “limiting” gown code that was lifted nearly verbatim from the NBA when the highest males’s league was attempting to switch streetwear with fits on the sideline. Just like the NBA’s strict tips, WNBA gamers have been discouraged from sporting T-shirts and denims. The league wished collared or button-down shirts, regardless of the ladies taking part in through the top of summer season.

Regardless of the restrictive gown code, NBA gamers turned the tunnel stroll right into a high-fashion runway in recent times and the gown code relaxed. The phenomenon trickled all the way down to the WNBA, the place social media groups take images of gamers arriving in every part from vibrant blazers and wide-leg pants to denim cutoffs and tall boots. The images earn as a lot social media consideration as recreation highlights.

The first vogue rule for WNBA gamers now could be no hats or bandanas on the sideline. The whole lot else is truthful recreation.

“That’s the way it needs to be,” stated Loyd, a four-time All-Star. “Everybody ought to have the ability to be comfy in their very own our bodies, really feel comfy in what they put on they usually shouldn’t have to elucidate themselves.”

Jewell Loyd and stylist Sydney Bordonaro check out a shirt in the mirror.

Jewell Loyd and stylist Sydney Bordonaro take a look at a shirt within the mirror.

(Meg Oliphant / For The Instances)

Fashionable social media feeds like League Suits, Protrending or GQ Sports activities spotlight WNBA gamers strolling into video games sporting ensembles that go between masculine and female or informal to dressy. On the identical night time that Connecticut Solar guard Dijonai Carrington walked into an area sporting brilliant pink shorts and an identical crop jacket over a yellow bikini high with strappy sandals, teammate Courtney Williams adopted in an outsized lime inexperienced leopard print shirt with matching sneakers and black pants. Gamers may additionally use the highlight to advocate for social points, like sporting “We Are BG” T-shirts to help Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner or flip the U.S. Senate with “Vote Warnock” shirts in 2020.

Celebrating the league’s range via vogue is “low-key a part of being a job mannequin,” Chicken stated. “[It’s] showcasing totally different elements of your self so little children can see that and perhaps see themselves in any person.”

Chicken, who earned first-team All-Drip from Slam Journal’s League Suits in 2019, stepped up her tunnel recreation this 12 months by working with stylist Courtney Mays, the style mastermind behind NBA gamers Chris Paul, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan. The stylists of the WNBA are a mix of vogue gurus, private buyers and psychologists.

Earlier than any garments come into play, stylists examine a shopper’s persona. Are they daring sufficient for brilliant colours? What about chopping the sleeves off a shirt? Kesha McLeod, whose shopper checklist contains Parker, Serena Williams, James Harden and P.J. Tucker, even went so far as to note a former shopper who by no means seemed on the high shelf of his closet, signaling to the stylist that he was a laser-focused dresser who wished no-fuss outfits that wouldn’t take time away from specializing in his sport.

“You get into their minds and also you perceive them,” stated McLeod, who styled Parker’s orange carpet look that included a singular cut-out behind the jacket. “I don’t take them out of their factor as a result of what they’re identified for is taking part in. I simply elevate that with vogue.”

Chanel Robinson-Hill instantly clicked with Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale after the reigning All-Star Recreation Most worthy participant messaged the part-time stylist and full-time bioprocessing engineer on Instagram. Robinson-Hill styled Ogunbowale for her highschool jersey retirement ceremony final 12 months. To seize the second, Robinson-Hill selected a hoodie with the enduring 1991 photograph of Michael Jordan clutching the Larry O’Brien Trophy after profitable his first NBA championship, a nod to Ogunbowale profitable her highschool’s first Wisconsin Division I state title.

“While you put on this piece, I need everybody else to know that is the way you felt with out saying a phrase,” stated Robinson-Hill, who styled Ogunbowale in a light-weight two-piece swimsuit for the orange carpet occasion Friday.

WNBA star Arike Ogunbowale of the Dallas Wings walks the Orange Carpet.

WNBA star Arike Ogunbowale of the Dallas Wings walks the orange carpet on Friday at 2022 WNBA All-Star weekend.

(Kena Krutsinger / NBAE by way of Getty Pictures)

Robinson-Hill scours the web to seek out distinctive items for Ogunbowale. With gamers touring nearly nonstop, working with a stylist makes life easier for fashion-savvy, however time-crunched professional ballers.

Loyd doesn’t like purchasing and would typically purchase on-line, however when one thing inevitably didn’t match, she didn’t have time to return it. Bordonaro takes care of all of it now.

The L.A.-based stylist who works with gamers from Seattle to New York searches for items on-line and in individual, will get them despatched to her purchasers’ properties, delivers them by hand after they blow via L.A. on a highway journey and even overnights packages to totally different accommodations whereas gamers are on the highway. To finalize Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum’s All-Star outfit, Bordonaro drove to Las Vegas with a trunk full of garments and spent the day with the previous No. 1 total choose who walked the orange carpet in a crisp white blazer, white bodysuit and beige pants.

Plum, a preferred face on League Suits and GQ Sports activities this 12 months, stated she naturally lacks fashion, however wished to “include a bit of bit extra oomph.” She enlisted Bordonaro, whom she met via mutual mates.

Plum’s “persona is simply via the roof, however she by no means actually dressed prefer it,” Bordonaro stated. “So it’s like, alright, let’s simply gown how you are feeling.”

Plum is spunky, however structured. She needs every part neat and clean-cut. Though they’ve grown shut, Bordonaro and Plum typically disagree over outfits. The 25-year-old stylist who typically wears her lengthy blonde hair in buns on high of her head loves brilliant colours. Plum would stay in all black if she might. She hates pink.

WNBA All-Star Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces walks the orange carpet.

WNBA All-Star Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces walks the orange carpet on Friday through the 2022 WNBA All-Star weekend.

(Mary Kate Ridgway / NBAE by way of Getty Pictures)

But after some light-hearted argument, Plum carried a fuzzy pink purse into an area final month to finish an outfit of free black pants, a grey John Geiger T-shirt and white sneakers. The web liked it.

“I by no means thought I might say this,” Plum stated, “however you are feeling good, you play good.”

Plum has performed simply that, incomes her first All-Star look whereas averaging 19.9 factors, 5.7 assists and a pair of.7 rebounds, all profession highs.

Bordonaro, who began with Loyd, a longtime private pal, and now works with gamers together with New York Liberty teammates Michaela Onyenwere and DiDi Richards and Sparks rookie Rae Burrell, by no means supposed to begin a styling empire. The Pittsburgh native aimed to work in advertising and marketing and change into a sports activities agent after incomes her grasp’s diploma in sports activities administration from Lengthy Seashore State. But styling athletes has proven her it is usually a one-stop useful resource for vogue, advertising and marketing and branding. She hopes opening Plum’s closet, together with the guard’s blossoming play, will assist flip her into one of the crucial fashionable skilled athletes on the earth.

“The garments are only a platform actually for them to indicate who they’re, what they’re about,” Bordonaro stated, “after which simply increase into advertising and marketing.”

As her enterprise grows, Bordonaro hopes to safe extra offers with manufacturers to help her purchasers with not solely free product however cost for social media posts. Sponsored posts can earn hundreds of {dollars} based mostly on an athlete’s on-line following.

For feminine athletes who’ve lengthy struggled to draw sponsorships on the identical price of their male counterparts, social media is a direct line to manufacturers. But it surely requires additional work.

“A James [Harden], he simply wears it, he doesn’t need to tag [on social media], he don’t need to do something and types are like, ‘Oh my God, I gotta ship him extra,’” McLeod stated. “For us, ladies particularly, we go the additional mile, and I feel it’s crucial additionally to set the blueprint for different years to return that they don’t gotta work so onerous.”

Stylist Sydney Bordonaro checks the suitcase of Storm forward Jewell Loyd for the WNBA All-Star weekend.

Stylist Sydney Bordonaro checks the suitcase of Storm ahead Jewell Loyd for the WNBA All-Star weekend.

(Meg Oliphant / For The Instances)

Among the many armfuls of garments Bordonaro delivered to Loyd’s resort room on the J.W. Marriott in L.A. Stay throughout their preliminary All-Star Recreation becoming was a suitcase of gifted objects. After they end planning Loyd’s All-Star outfit, they cracked open the swag bag to seek out T-shirts from John Geiger, brightly coloured Bristol Studios shorts — fitted to Loyd’s liking so that they graze her knees — and sweatpants from Seattle-based Sky Blue. Loyd gained’t have to buy the remainder of the 12 months.

An outsized Styxx tan hoodie caught Loyd’s eye. As Bordonaro began organizing the style twister, she requested what Loyd wished to pack together with her now and what might wait. The Seattle guard motioned towards the heavy sweatshirt.

She’s feeling that one.

Stylist Sydney Bordonaro gives the peace sign as she poses for a photo with WNBA star Jewell Loyd pose for a photo.

Stylist Sydney Bordonaro and WNBA star Jewell Loyd are all smiles throughout a styling session on the J.W. Marriott.

(Meg Oliphant / For The Instances)

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