Athletes to Showcase Their Personal Style, High Fashion at 2024 NFL Draft

If the last football season was any indication, fashion has become a major part of the NFL, and its prominence in the league isn’t slowing down.

The emergence of the “NFL Tunnel” — like the long-standing “NBA Tunnel” — gave many top players a new platform to engage with fans through their fashion, either wearing high-fashion looks from luxury brands or giving a nod to their roots through traditional attire.

More from WWD

Fashion’s reign in the NFL is continuing with the 2024 NFL Draft starting Thursday in Detroit, where football fans and the league are expecting fashion to take the spotlight as prospective players use the platform to introduce themselves to a larger audience.

“The draft is the moment where we welcome prospects to the NFL family,” said Justin Anderson, director of NFL social content. “It’s primetime, it’s anticipation and it’s celebration, but it’s really one of the few events that brings in avid and casual fans from both the professional world — like you want to see who your favorite team picked — but also from the collegiate world as well — they want to see where their former star player is going to end up. [Everyone] really comes together to watch the draft. And that red carpet moment, it’s such an important style moment.”

The NFL has robust coverage plans for the draft to highlight the prospective players and their red carpet looks. In addition to multiple broadcasts and social streaming, the NFL’s social media team will be on the red carpet with 13 prospective players to create content that aims to fully immerse viewers.

As the intersection of sport and fashion continues to gain in importance, specifically among Gen Z and younger, the NFL is “really focused on leveling that up and supporting our players,” said Kylie Callura, the manager of social content and production at the NFL. “As they continue to see the storytelling efforts that we’re doing across our entire ecosystem, it kind of gives them an incentive to lean into their fashion a little bit more and have more fun with it.”

Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State arrives to the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.
Ezekiel Elliott arrives to the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

The NFL Draft has had a history of memorable fashion moments over the decades. Anderson and Callura pointed to former football players like Deion Sanders and his black and white tracksuit at the NFL Draft in 1989, Ray Lewis and his white, black and gold flashy outfit in 1996 and Ezekiel Elliott and his cropped dress shirt in 2016 as notable moments.

Other football players have used the draft to give a nod to their roots. For instance, last year Christian Gonzalez wore a jacket featuring the Colombian flag on the interior, and in 2022 Sauce Gardner accessorized a powder blue suit with a “Sauce” bottle chain necklace.

“For the prospects, it’s such an amazing experience,” Anderson said about the NFL Draft. “What we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s such an opportunity for them to lean into fashion and it almost becomes an art form. Our team’s job is really to lean into the unique and authentic personalities that prospective players want to tell, help them build their brands and ultimately amplify their interests across our social broadcasts and coverage as it pertains to the draft as a whole.”

Sauce Gardner attends the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sauce Gardner attends the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to Callura, the NFL’s fashion content is some of its top performing. Last season, the average fashion post drove 43 percent more engagement and garnered 51 percent more videos views year-over-year. This has encouraged the NFL’s social media team to expand its fashion coverage for the draft and for the upcoming football season.

This past football season was arguably the NFL’s most fashionable, with players like Travis Kelce, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Stefon Diggs, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Darren Waller and others regularly going viral for their high-fashion looks.

For this year’s NFL Draft, Anderson said it will be noteworthy given the number of quarterbacks that are predicted to be selected during the first round, some of whom will be on the red carpet.

Callura also highlighted the number of legacy players that will be highly watched at the draft and on the red carpet, including Marvin Harrison Jr., son of Marvin Harrison, Luke McCaffrey, brother of Christian McCaffrey, and Brenden Rice, son of Jerry Rice, among others.

Launch Gallery: NFL Draft Fashion Through the Years

Best of WWD