Fashion: NBA stars are sporting man bags

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Pau Gasol show off their latest accessory. Getty Images

Winning an NBA title made him hot again, but can LeBron make it cool the Regular Joe to rock a man bag?

First, LeBron James and his NBA cohorts amped up the popularity of skinny jeans for men. But perhaps they realized those pockets were way too small for a wad of keys, never mind multiple smartphones. So in the obvious next step, James is bringing the man bag to the masses.

Redeem Team II’s headliner upgraded his gym bag a few years ago. And where the King goes, the NBA and its loyal subjects usually follow. (Have you seen all those guys wearing unnecessary glasses on the streets of Miami lately?)

“Athletes probably have more influence on the style of younger men than anybody else,” says John Jones, fashion director of MR Magazine.

Which is why Ghurka, the high-end leather goods maker and a LeBron fave, is betting you’ll adopt the man bag trend too. The small Connecticut-based firm has created a custom Ghurka Cavalier series with an assist from the reigning MVP’s personal stylist, Rachel Johnson.

The series debuts in September and will come in three sizes, priced from $695 to $1,495. Ghurka is lining the bags with the same Armstrong & Wilson fabric James fancies for his pocket squares, three of which come with each bag.

Oh, stop snickering. This man bag moment is the inevitable and necessary byproduct of the dress code instituted by the NBA in 2005. If you want to know what silly really looks like, behold the jock who walks out of the gym in a tailored suit while toting the same old cheap nylon duffel.

“Now guys are looking into more stylized bags,” says Louge Delcy, founder of DapperLou.com. “They want to really create an image.”

And for many men, it’s just easier to copy LeBron’s.