by John Russel Jones

Sports figures influencing men’s apparel has reached a new peak recently, so we were excited to catch up with stylist Brandon Williams, who dresses the Utah Jazz’s Mike Conley, Milwaukee Bucks’ Jrue Holiday, New York Knicks’ Julius Randle, and actor Shemar Moore, among others. Williams did a collaboration with Hudson Jeans earlier this year, but is one of the major stylists contributing to Express, Inc.’s Made to #ExpressYou activations this season. The campaign includes the retailer’s first-ever Styling Hub in New York City, happening on September 9th and 10th (concurring with New York Fashion Week), where Express’s celebrity stylist team — including Williams, Allison Bornstein, Sam Spector, and Zerina Akers — will host personal styling appointments. 

MR: How did you get started as a stylist to athletes?

Brandon Williams: When I first started people thought I was crazy! It just wasn’t a thing back then. I really wanted to be in the NBA: When I was a kid, I ate, drank, and slept basketball. But by the time I got to college, my dreams may have gotten to NBA level, but my body — or more specifically, my height — did not. I studied marketing, but I love and always have loved style. I have vivid memories of seeing Michael Jordan show up for a game, walking through the tunnel in his suit. My brother-in-law, Michael Redd, played in the NBA, and he had a stylist. I would hang out with them, and Michael would always compliment my style — I thought he was just gassin’ me up — but his stylist would say “you could do this job.” I worked up the courage to quit my job and move to Los Angeles where I interned with stylists for about two years (without getting paid!). Michael asked me to come work for him in 2012, and it all unfolded from there.

MR: Sports figures have been influencing men’s fashion so much more lately. How did that happen? 

BW: There were a lot of things happening at the same time in different places. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Ball were the prominent focal points of the league and really started managing how they look and bringing on people to help them do that. Stylist Eric Archibald was my mentor, and people like Rachel Johnson, Calyann Barnett, and myself started styling athletes (and I was one of the only guys styling then , and now here we are!  

MR: Through that lens of styling for athletes, what do you think guys need in their wardrobes right now?  

BW: I like to pitch the foundational elements for guys, with a focus on silhouette and fit. Every guy needs to make sure his basics are sharp. That’s why I love working with Express. To back up for a second, I have a philosophy on Express and its importance in the marketplace. I grew up with the brand, and for every guy — even if you’re in the NBA or the NFL — we all know what Express is, just like we know Nike. The store allows me to get that high/low mix. Guys can cover their basics, like a classic navy blazer, but then they can mix it up with chocolate brown pants, with a white sneaker. It really is a one-stop shop. I like to call it ‘foundational excellence.’

MR: Are there any key items that you’re recommending now that dress codes have changed post-COVID (and we’re not dressing in our sweats every day)?

BW: I think every guy needs a gray sweatsuit (I’m wearing gray sweats right now) that has a modern fit! You can put it on with a pair of trainers, layer it with a button-up shirt, a pair of slacks, and a peacoat. It covers your Saturday wardrobe all the way through Monday morning. You need a great outerwear option: I recommend staying away from patterns and leaning in on texture. Anything that comes in a “set” for guys is great because we don’t like to think a lot about what we have to do and like to “grab it and go.” Tops and bottoms that match are always great, whether it’s a classic tailored suit, a sweat suit, or a trucker jacket with matching slacks. Express has a chocolate brown suit this fall that I think every guy will want in his closet. I’m also into their two-tone loafers. I wore them myself on Instagram, and everybody was commenting on them. They’re a win!

MR: What’s next?

BW: On Friday Express drops its second campaign featuring its Collegiate Athlete Style Ambassadors and Ohio State football stars CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. I got to style that campaign, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. Both guys are from my hometown school, Ohio State, and they’re both Heisman potential. (It’s part of NBC Sports’ name, image, and likeness (NIL) campaign.) It was so dope. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for how good the clothes look. I got to dress top-tier athletes in Express, going up against luxury brands, and they look amazing.

HyperFocal: 0

 Just like Williams, the Made to #ExpressYou Styling Hub is designed to inspire people to dress with confidence in the new Fall 2022 collection.

Pre-booked and walk-in 45-minute appointments with the stylists will take place at the Styling Hub from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST with appointments available for booking time with Williams and the other stylists here. Digital activations include the brand’s first TikTok branded effect, “Walk the Runway,” on September 9th and its Made to #ExpressYou Fall Style Celebration kicking off with a Facebook Live livestream hosted by TV personality Tan France on September 17th.