Sport Style Wars is a 7-part series pitting the best dressed from the sports world against each other in a style play-off to crown The Most Fashionable Man In Sports. If you missed it, go back and read Matchup 1 NBA vs MLB.
New York City: A fashion mecca where the biggest names in haute couture call their own playground. The birthplace of dreams, it is here that the best dressed in the world come to strut their stuff on the glossy runways of Fashion Week to the streets of The Big Apple. With such high stakes at play in every outfit that one wears in public, everyone brings their A-game, especially professional athletes due to their national media exposure. The competitive nature in every pro athlete means they’re willing to play for just about anything, and what better title to fight for than NYC’s best dressed athlete? That is why tonight we have Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist square off against Giants wide-receiver Victor Cruz in a battle for New York City’s fashion crown.
An import from the land of Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist brings a welcome European flair to the USA. Routinely voted into the International Best-Dressed List by Vanity Fair, he owns his style with a composure that stems from his confidence as a world-class goaltender. He wasn’t always this self-assured, as he admits he’s made many fashion mistakes in his teenage years (don’t we all), but has atoned for his sins now as a changed man. Henrik has refined his taste and in turn, his style has stayed consistent without much experimenting. And why should he tinker? He already has a winning formula and stays true to what he’s comfortable with: Suits, jackets, and an overall classy appearance. A significant factor to his style evolution is also attributed to the city he now calls home. He loves New York for its “I wear what I want” attitude, allowing him the freedom to, well, wear what he wants. And what he wants to wear looks damn good. He appears to prefer the suave, red-carpet appearance seen in his love of luxury items such as Ferragamo velvet shoes and a velvet jacket. His list of favorite brands, including Burberry, Tiger of Sweden, and Calvin Klein, rectify his fondness for the more sophisticated wardrobe. Whenever he’s not in hockey equipment or a suit, his casual choice is the John Varvatos look with a leather jacket, t-shirt and jeans for a rock n’ roll vibe. That’s about as far as he goes down the casual scale. No socks and sandals for him.
Unlike the Suave Swede, the All-American Victor Cruz was born and raised in New York. This exposed him to American fashion much longer than Henrik, which he was able to experience first hand, as he considered his father to be his style icon growing up. Although Cruz dressed oversized everything to follow the trends during his teenage years, he eventually ended up refining his tastes as he was exposed to more fashion. His changing moment was a Calvin Klein fashion show he attended in Milan, and he hasn’t looked back. He also cites Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as another source of inspiration, as he recites his mantra “If you look good, you play good and if you play good, you get paid good”. Considered the best dressed man in the NFL, he stands head and shoulders above his fellow footballers in the fashion arena. He believes that the majority of football players dress conservatively because they are intimidated by a tailored look. Although the rest may cower in fear at the sight of a slim cut suit, Cruz relishes his close-cut clothes, particularly his favorite piece: A leather Balmain jacket. But his clothing cabinet must pale in comparison to his shoe closet, as he claims to own approximately 500 pairs of shoes, most picked by himself as he is very hands-on in terms of shopping, even though he has a stylist.
With a versatile wardrobe mixing casual bombers with slim dress pants, it’s no surprise Cruz expresses an entrepreneurial desire in starting his own brand. He already possesses extensive brand knowledge as a model for upscale names like Hugo Boss and Givenchy. If he needs anymore endorsement, he was appointed as a brand ambassador for the inaugural men’s-only New York Fashion Week this year. That’s a resume some designers would kill for. On the other hand, Henrik is perfectly fine keeping a low profile and dressing to the nines every day. His ability to put together a fine-tailored suit is almost unparalleled in the sports world, let alone just in the NHL. Along with his divinely-quaffed hair, he is never seen putting a foot wrong in clothing choices. Almost always in a suit, even on off days, the science that is put behind the colors, patterns, and each intricate layer of his outfit justifies his superhuman style IQ. Comparing Henrik to Cruz, the latter is susceptible to the occasional “lax” dress day, wearing as few and as simple pieces as possible. Call it minimalist, but effort counts Victor, and people keep tabs on that. There are instances where Cruz has been too casual in his red carpet attire and on the cuthroat streets of New York, that’s asking for a knockout punch. Thus, it is Henrik Lundqvist that takes this in a close one. All hail The King.
Winner: Henrik Lundqvist