Venus unveils fashion line, joining others

Venus Williams is surrounded by her models at the unveiling of the 2013 line for EleVen. Theo Wargo/Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley said it's no surprise athletes from Tony Hawk to David Beckham to Maria Sharapova are jumping into the fashion world.

"This is a way for them to express themselves because they normally are just seen in the uniforms they wear," said Rowley, who has written books on fashion and has appeared as a fashion judge on TV. "A lot of them have great ideas and great style. I think fashion should be about having fun, and these athletes do."

On Wednesday, tennis star Venus Williams debuted the latest collection of her clothing line EleVen at New York Fashion Week.

Williams, who has an associate degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, stuck to her sporting roots by having several athletes model her clothing line.

"I really don't know why all of us athletes are doing [this]. I just know that I went to school and I love design," Williams said. "I try to make a difference in things. This is a big show but I wasn't nervous."

New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire, who had a line of clothing last year and is working on his next one, said dressing well provides confidence and energy for the day.

"Fashion reflects who you are, so you need to have a passion if you want to do this," Stoudemire said. "My mom is a former model and designer, so I grew up watching her. And that rubbed off on me. Seems like all of us athletes are now into it."

Playbook asked ESPN the Magazine fashion expert Samantha Rubin to give us her thoughts on her favorite lines by athletes:


David Beckham: Body Wear, aka underwear for H&M.

Comment: Considering Beckham is known as being the premier stylish athlete, I was a bit surprised that it was really only a line of underwear and basics. The items do reflect his sense of style, minimal and classic. Hopefully, next time, he’ll venture into sportswear.

Jack Nicklaus: Jack Nicklaus Apparel.

Comment:Jack Nicklaus was a style icon in his own right back in the day. Always looking sharp and put together on the golf course. His line reflects his sense of style. While the younger guys playing today might gravitate toward Rickie Fowler's edgier fluorescent orange, Nicklaus’ line will make dad nostalgic. The only thing missing are his signature plaid pants.

Venus Williams: EleVen by Venus Williams.

Comment: The Williams sisters are known for their unique sense of style on the tennis court so it’s only fitting that Venus ventured out to create her own line of tennis clothing. EleVen doesn’t offer the typical sporty tennis gear, her feminine designs are minimal and subtle while maintaining a sporty edge.

Victor Cruz: Young Whales.

Comment: Victor Cruz is keeping the graphic T-shirt trend alive with his Young Whales brand. The Super Bowl champ has quickly become a darling of the fashion world and was named to this year’s Vanity Fair best-dressed list; he’s clearly got a strong sense of style. I would love to see his brand evolve from just T-shirts to a well-rounded sportswear collection.

Maria Sharapova: Cole Haan.

Comment: Whether on the court or the red carpet, Maria is hands down the most stylish women’s athlete. Her hand in designing began when she complained her Nike outfits did not fit her frame. In 2009, she began designing a line of shoes and handbags for Cole Haan. Her designs reflect Maria’s aesthetic of clean, fun and classic, but also maintain a sporty edge that reflects her as an athlete.

Shaun White: Target.

Comment: Shaun White has one of the most unique sense of style of any professional athlete. Whether he’s rocking flag pants on the red carpet or a more conservative suit, you always know Shaun’s personality will shine through. This is the same for his namesake line at Target. Expect fun graphics, bright pants and everything in between (hats, board shorts and even bedding), which fully reflect Shaun and have every boy wanting to replicate this free spirit.

Tony Hawk: Kohl’s.

Comment: Tony Hawk’s namesake line for department store Kohl’s offers a wide range of clothing and accessories for men, teens and boys. While being a pretty standard assortment of jeans, tees, button-downs and, of course, skateboarding sneakers, the design doesn’t necessarily push the envelope, but will no doubt appeal to those who want to emulate the skateboarding legend.

Michael Vick: V7.

Comment: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has put his name on a line of performance gear including T-shirts and shorts, emblazoned with motivational phrases to get you going during a tough workout. Most importantly, a portion of the proceeds goes to Boys and Girls clubs in Philadelphia.

Lamar Odom: Rich Soil.

Comment: Being part of the fashion-obsessed Kardashian clan has rubbed off on Lamar Odom. Rich Soil is a line of graphic T-shirts and sweatshirts that represents the L.A. lifestyle while honoring his New York City roots.