The High/Low designer collaboration has been a mainstay for a while now at stores like H&M, Target and so many other chains looking to capitalize on normally unattainable cachet to lure in customers, but at the high end, those team ups are less important. Typically, those customers at the top can afford any label they want on any given day, so what is a store like Barneys to do to create excitement when it is always full of the designer brands that seem so out of reach for most of us? Look to sports. This Fall, the retailer will tap Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook for the Westbrook XO Barneys New York collection for its men's store. Is Westbrook a designer now? Not exactly. Following the template of last year's Holiday collection with Jay Z, the stylish NBA star will be more of a curatorial advisor of sorts, helping to create exclusive items for Barneys with a variety of vendors that will be merchandised together as a collection that will reflect his own personal style to be found on the store's Eighth floor on Madison Avenue. Participating labels will include Marcelo Burlon, Naked & Famous, Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, Selima Optique, Del Toro, Globe Trotter and Nike Jordan (pictured) which Westbrook endorses under contract. While the impact of the Jay Z project sadly fizzled as the store was tarnished by unrelated scandals at the time, the Westbrook collection will hopefully avoid that unfortunate coincidence, and is also expected to continue over the course of at least few seasons establishing itself as a regular feature in all of Barneys stores and online. Each piece will have its own identifying hangtag, and some items will be found in other parts of the store as well. “I’m kind of like a designer. My personal style changes every season," Westbrook tells WWD, "I wasn’t able to buy things when I was younger, but now my fashion game has expanded.”
Will sports stars be able to do for Barneys what luxury designers and other celebrities seem to be able to do for less exclusive retailers? We will find out this Fall.