Top 10 Statement Making Fashion Looks from Athletes
Fashion and sports have been synonymous with one another for decades as it allows athletes to express themselves both on and off the court. With millions of viewers every week and the advent of social media, athletes have a bigger platform now more than ever. Many athletes use fashion to show off their personalities with flashy and vibrant outfits. But there have been times when athletes have utilized fashion to make a statement that got the whole world talking and have gone down in history.
- Black Gloves at the 1968 Olympics
The 1960s were a turbulent time in American history due in large part to the civil rights movement. So when the 1968 Olympics came around, Tommie Smith and John Carlos decided to use this chance to make a statement on a global stage. After Smith and Carlos won gold and bronze medals, respectively, they each raised a fist in the air wearing a black glove. The move was a way of showing their support for the civil rights movement and the black gloves became a symbol of strength amongst the movement.
2. Allen Iverson’s Arm Sleeve
In 2001, Allen Iverson was one of the biggest names in basketball and not just for his incredible skills. He was a fashion icon in the NBA, pioneering the street wear and hip-hop style trends that would dominate the scene for years. So, when Iverson played a game wearing an arm sleeve, the basketball community took notice. In hindsight, he was only wearing it to alleviate some joint pains, but it started a tidal wave of players wearing their own sleeves. Whether he meant to or not, Allen Iverson made a fashion statement that influences players even today.
3. Miami Heat Hoodies
In 2012, 17 year-old Treyvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman who later claimed self defense; Martin was unarmed and wearing a dark hoodie. The hoodie became a symbol for supporters of Martin after the Miami Heat took a team picture with their hoods up and a hashtag ‘#WeAreTreyvonMartin’. The image sparked a movement for police reform and social change that is still being fought today.
4. Los Suns Jerseys
Believe it or not, but the Suns used to be really popular. They consistently made the playoffs for several years and achieved a strong attendance rating. So when a controversial anti-immigration bill was passed in Arizona, the Suns decided to use their status to make a statement. They wore an alternate jersey for their playoff match against the Spurs with the name “Los Suns” on the front, representing their support for local Hispanic immigrants. The stunt grabbed the attention of the nation as well as bringing the controversial bill out into the light.
5. Anthony Davis “That’s All Folks” Shirt
Pelicans star Anthony Davis was frustrated with his team’s lack of wins and playoff appearances, so he tried to force a trade right before the January deadline in 2019. The trade never happened so Davis had to finish out the season with a team he didn’t want to be on. Understandable, the fans did not appreciate his blatant disrespect for the organization and Davis was booed pretty much the whole season. The rift between Davis and the fans would culminate during the last home game of the season when he arrived wearing a shirt saying “That’s all folks!”. Although Davis says he didn’t pick the shirt, nobody believed him and even Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was so upset he listed Davis as probable for the game.
6. I Can’t Breathe
Only two years after the devastating Treyvon Martin killing, another unarmed black man was killed by police. Eric Garner was choked out by a police officer trying to arrest him; Garner’s last words were “I can’t breathe”. When video of the incident broke out, the nation erupted with dismay. Derrick Rose made headlines when he wore a shirt that read “I can’t breathe” before a game. Shortly after, other superstars followed suit and the quote became a rallying cry for protestors and social justice advocates.
7. Dennis Rodman Wedding Dress
Dennis Rodman is one of the most iconic basketball players of all time. The Bulls star was known not only for his astounding defense but also his eccentric clothing. In 1996, Rodman’s autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be released and to help promote the book, Rodman wore a wedding dress to a press conference. He declared he was bisexual and that he was marrying himself. Obviously the images went viral and Rodman’s book quickly became a best-seller. But Rodman did more than just a publicity stunt, he normalized bisexuality and cross dressing, stating that it’s been a way for him to express himself since he was a child.
8. Michael Johnson’s Gold Shoes
Michael Johnson made history when he became the first man to win gold in both the 200 and 400 meter races at the 1996 Olympics. Although he achieved an incredible feat, people weren’t talking about his medals, they were talking about his shoes. Johnson declared he would win his races months before the Olympics and to double down on his statement, he wore custom made gold Nike running shoes. The shoes became an instant hit and started a trend of track stars wearing flashy footwear that is present even today.
9. Serena Williams’ Catsuit
Serena Williams has been the most dominant female tennis athlete for over a decade and she has never been afraid to take criticism head on. During the 2018 French Open, Williams wore a black catsuit to help prevent blood clots, which prompted the French Tennis Federation to implement a new dress code banning the outfit; the FTF President argued that Williams was disrespecting the game by wearing inappropriate clothing. The decision caused a media outcry as people spoke out against the ban and even caught the attention of Nike, who put out a print ad in support of Williams. Since then, Williams and her catsuit have become a symbol of empowerment among female athletes and a call for equality.
10. Donovan Mitchell Bulletproof Vest
The summer of 2020 has proven to be one of the most historic periods in American history. The death of George Floyd sparked protests and riots across the country as people have reached a boiling point with police brutality and social injustice. As the NBA restarts, many players are using this opportunity to send a message in support of these changes. Perhaps the most attention grabbing was Donovan Mitchell when he wore a bulletproof vest covered in the names of those killed by police. Mitchell was trying to do more than just make a statement, he was trying to make an impression on the country by emphasizing the reality of this issue.