Athletes Take Center Stage at Fashion Weeks: The Rise of Sports-Fashion Collaboration

Athletes Take Center Stage at Fashion Weeks: The Rise of Sports-Fashion Collaboration

Emerging athletes are becoming sought-after brand ambassadors and fashion insiders, as the worlds of sports and fashion continue to converge.

In a surprising twist, athletes from various sports are now gracing the front rows of prestigious fashion shows, rubbing shoulders with celebrities and influencers. Once reserved for established stars like LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton, fashion weeks are now attracting rookies and athletes from niche sports. This trend is driven by the increasing convergence of the fashion and sports industries, as well as the athletes’ potential as brand ambassadors in the age of streaming and social media.

The Power of Athlete Endorsements in Fashion

Athletes, especially those with international followings, have become valuable assets for luxury brands seeking effective brand ambassadors. These endorsement deals not only provide athletes with a lucrative second revenue stream but also extend their commercial prospects beyond their sporting careers. Attending fashion shows and being seen as fashion insiders are crucial steps in establishing their presence in the fashion world.

Athletes Making Waves at Fashion Weeks

The presence of athletes at fashion weeks is becoming increasingly common, with rising stars from various sports attending shows during their off-seasons. Marcus Rashford, a footballer from Manchester United, shared the red carpet with Kim Kardashian at Louis Vuitton’s men’s show in June. Track star Alica Schmidt has walked the runway for Hugo Boss at Milan Fashion Week. This month, French rugby player Cameron Woki and track-and-field athlete Elodie Clouvel are expected to attend shows at Paris Fashion Week.

The Emergence of Sports-Fashion Agencies

The growing intersection of fashion and sports has given rise to a network of start-up agencies and image consultants dedicated to bridging the gap between the two industries. These agencies, often led by former athletes or agents themselves, act as vital conduits between athletes and fashion brands. They offer services such as image consultancy, personal shopping, editorial placements, and procuring invites to fashion shows. These agencies play a crucial role in helping athletes navigate the fashion world and establish connections with brands.

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Seeking Emerging Athletes for Fashion Collaborations

Fashion brands are now looking beyond mainstream sports like basketball and football to collaborate with athletes from lesser-known sports. Brands are increasingly interested in discovering emerging talents with inspiring stories, rather than signing popular athletes who already work with multiple brands. For brands like Hermès, an athlete’s image, career achievements, and discipline are more important than their online following. Agencies specializing in “image architecture” work to position these athletes as fashion tastemakers, directing their social media content, event attendance, and brand affiliations.

Challenges and Evolving Perceptions

Working with athletes at fashion weeks comes with its own set of challenges. Athletes’ intense training schedules and media commitments can make last-minute engagements difficult. Additionally, fan culture in certain sports, such as football, can influence the boundaries of an athlete’s social life. Negative reactions from fans can sometimes lead to the cancellation of brand collaborations or projects. However, sporting organizations are gradually embracing collaboration with the fashion industry as perceptions of athletes evolve.


The presence of athletes at fashion weeks is no longer an anomaly but a growing trend. As the worlds of sports and fashion continue to converge, athletes are becoming sought-after brand ambassadors and fashion insiders. The rise of sports-fashion agencies and the increasing interest in collaborating with emerging athletes highlight the changing dynamics of the industry. While challenges remain, the evolving perceptions of athletes and the potential they hold beyond their sporting careers are transforming the fashion landscape.