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The Style Files with Will Welch

GQ's Style Editor opens up about what it takes to dress sharp in the NBA

POSTED: Mar 12, 2015 11:41 AM ET

By Damaris Lewis, Special to NBA.com

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As we've all come to know, the word "Style" means more than just putting on your best outfit. There are tons of questions that need to be answered when finding your niche in the fashion world. Does tweed work for every season? Are blue jeans still cool? Do I have to wear a tie, or is casual cool the new night out look? In order to find out the answer to these questions you must find one who is skilled in the little things we take for granted. In this case, Will Welch is that someone. Serving as the Style Editor at GQ Magazine, Will knows a thing or two (or 5 million) about looking sharp. It's safe to say that now more than ever, the world of basketball and fashion are becoming one. I sat down with Mr. Welch to find out what's really going on outside of the court.

NBA Style
Will Welch at the GQ Fashion Week Party at the Wythe Hotel

Damaris: So Will, you have a new biannual magazine called GQ Style that is out now. Let's talk about that.

Will: We did Spring 2014, Fall 2014, and we're on our third one now. It's seasonal, one in the Spring and one in the Fall and it's what to wear now and how to pull it off.

Damaris: My favorite part of GQ Style is the section called "The Influencers." Can you tell me more about how that came to fruition?

Will: "The Influencers" is a few features of men from the past that are super cool and that we're looking to for style tricks. You have some of GQ's best writers writing features about things like when Tom Cruise was cool, or a young Michael Jordan. You mostly see pictures of Michael hugging the trophy, but never photos of him in his younger days in his dorm room back in college. Aside from his sneakers, and he forever changed the way that men wear shorts. If you go back to Jordan's rookie season, he's wearing short shorts. Then he wanted to wear his Carolina Tar Heels shorts under his Bulls shorts for good luck so he asked for longer shorts and now all the guys wear longer shorts. The idea there is that all of the trends you see today have come from specific reference points in the past. Our feeling is that if you understand the context and history of well dressed men, then that will help you too.

Damaris: Where did the idea come from to do a biannual magazine dedicated to style?

Will: Our feeling was that more is more for GQ readers as far as style content. GQ's a fashion magazine and it's also a general interest magazine and there's a limited amount of pages that are all about fashion and we felt like we had more to say. So we created this magazine that's a guide to every season and it's meant to be pretty service-y. It's really a guide that you can use to shop and get dressed for during that entire season. It's broken down into the 30 trends that we really endorse and believe in for each specific season. 30 trends are a lot, but if a specific trend is not in there then you know it's something that we don't believe in.

NBA Style
Kevin Love on the cover of GQ

Damaris: As far NBA Style, you were one of the judges at the recent NBA All-Star All-Style show. How was that experience?

Will: One thing thinking back to the show, I think if Jeff Teague hadn't been first he would've definitely gotten through to the other rounds, he fully deserved to. His suit was so much better than a couple guys who got through to the second round so hopefully TNT will have him back next year. What was cool about the show was all of the guys who came out and participated. It was brave of those guys to get up there and walk the runway, especially in front of judges.

Damaris: Who currently has your favorite style amongst the guys in the NBA?

Will: Well, Russell Westbrook of course. I like how he dresses as wildly and passionately as he plays. This question is tough because there are a lot of guys with great style. Someone like LeBron (James) is always so classic; he pushes the envelope but never goes out of bounds. My second favorite of the moment is James Harden. In preparation for the fashion show I was looking through some of his photos. In one he was super preppy, in another he had on more street wear, and in the last he had on jeans, a white shirt, and a giant cowboy hat. I think there's something about him having the beard as his signature look that just allows him to be able to rock a ton of different stuff. Kobe (Bryant) is another great. His style is such a seamless reflection of his personality. The way he plays is sleek, and minimal, and super smooth. When someone's personality, the way they show up to work, and the way they dress all feel like they're coming from the same place- that's true style.

NBA Style
Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant

Damaris: At GQ, are you guys excited that your worlds are coming together even more now?

Will: GQ has always covered sports pretty heavily, but now, yeah, it's a great moment for GQ because men are more comfortable than ever talking about style, and working on their style. There's nothing to feel weird about wanting to look well put together or talking about it with your friends. It's always gone on to a certain extent but I think The NBA has really lead the charge in just having your own style and nothing being weird about it. There's some sweet synergy between the two worlds for sure.

NBA Style
Kobe Bryant on the cover of GQ

Damaris: I spoke to a lot of players at your party during NBA All-Star Weekend about having custom suits made-to-order. Is it easier to have your clothes made for you?

Will: Custom suits sounds awesome, but there's so many ways to go wrong with them. Any situation where all of a sudden anything is possible is actually much harder than being able to walk into any store and figure out which item is best for you. I think that's part of it too, in order to get a custom suit made, even if you have a great tailor that's walking you through it, you learn so much and you have to make so many decisions along the way so these players are really learning the classic elements of men's tailoring and getting excited about it.

NBA Style
Russell Westbrooke on cover of GQ

Damaris: Your current issue has three separate covers featuring three different players. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant. Why did you choose those three for the covers?

Will: We were looking for guys that represent something fresh. We wanted to pick three guys that felt of the moment. Kobe, he's injured now but his story is so incredible. We already touched on how great his style is, but the chance to sit down with Kobe at this point in his career and talk about where his head is at was such an awesome opportunity. Kobe is so thoroughly Kobe. That's what I love about him. He can't do anything but be himself and be super honest about it. Kevin Durant is a young gun and a beast on the court. He's someone who's really into style and it's been really cool watching him and his interest in fashion serge all while watching him figure out who he is and the way he presents himself. You know, he had a rep for being quiet, then he started getting flack for not having the "I will do anything to watch you suffer" killer instinct, and watching him responding to that has been great and it seems like maybe he does have the killer instinct. Kevin Love is another super interesting guy who has amazing style. Earlier in the season he was walking through the tunnel with a blazer and a turtleneck ensemble looking like a Hollywood movie producer from the 1970s and that was super cool to us so we wanted to celebrate him as well. It's not just New York and LA where style lives so we're trying to highlight that for sure.

-- Damaris Lewis is a professional model, dancer, sports fan and lover of all things style. You can follow her on Twitter at @DamarisLewis