"Clothes make the man," Mark Twain once remarked, borrowing Shakespeare. "Naked people have had little or no influence on society."
Case in point: the New York Giants' Victor Cruz, who managed to make headlines this year despite being sidelined for all of the 2015 season with a knee injury: Sports Illustrated even named him 2016’s best-dressed athlete .
During a recent conversation with the 30-year-old receiver — who was spreading the word about his partnership with Gillette Clinical Clear Gel — we had the chance to ask him to share some of his considerable knowledge on looking good, from custom cleats to ugly sweaters to being the best-dressed man in the league.
InsideHook: How long have you been interested in fashion?
Victor Cruz: Pretty much all my life. My dad was a very sharp dresser, so I kind of emulated him. I wasn’t always into specific brands or anything, but I was always conscious of how I looked and my appearance. I always want to look well-kept.
IH: Has fashion been a release for you at times while you’ve been injured?
VC: Yeah. I definitely use it as somewhat of an escape, if you will. It gives me an opportunity to do things outside of the box, not just in what I wear, but the things I do and the brands and clothing companies I get to work with inside the fashion world. Other than that, I’m focused on football. I’m excited to be out there with my team and helping them win after missing nearly two years.
IH: Did you wear custom cleats on Sunday for charity like a lot of players did?
VC: I did. I had a pair of cleats representing the Victor Cruz Foundation, which is geared toward S.T.E.M. programming. A designer named Kickasso put them together for me which was pretty cool. We’re gonna auction them off and the foundation will keep all of the proceeds.
IH: Do you think the generally uptight NFL (at least when it comes to uniform alterations) will continue the “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign?
VC: I hope so. I’m all for people being able to represent whatever they want on their cleats as long as they use team colors and it doesn’t say anything derogatory.
IH: Is there anyone in the league who always makes on-point clothing choices?
VC: Tom Brady. He always kills it and makes sure his look is up to par. It’s always tailored properly, it fits him and it goes from there. TB definitely pays attention to his fashion.
IH: Have you played with anyone who was consistently dressed like a scrub?
VC: Everyone now has kind of come around to the fashion game, but in our locker room we used to have a guy named Cullen Jenkins. He was stuck in a certain year — or at least his suits were stuck in a certain year. We used to clown him about it all the time but he’d accept the jokes and then throw ‘em right back. It was funny to see him in nine-button suits all the time.
IH: Switching gears and since 'tis the season, what do you plan on doing for the holidays?
VC: Just planning to chill with my family. I took my daughter to see the Christmas Spectacular a few weeks ago and am going to take her to another show as well. I’ll do some shopping too.
IH: Is there a fashionable purchase you’d recommend this year?
VC: You have to buy yourself a Christmas sweater. Gucci made one this season that I highly recommend if it’s in your budget. If not, just get an ugly sweater, just so you can be festive.
IH: Do the Giants have a holiday party?
VC: We do, but a lot of the athletes do not attend. We’re around each other all the time, so the last thing we want to do is go to a Christmas party together. A few of the players do our own thing, but I can’t really share the details about what goes on there.
IH: Is that because of a past incident?
VC: No. Everybody does a good job and understands they have to go home and be able to wake up and come to work the next days. There’s no funny stories of Tom in accounting getting too drunk.