The world of fashion is very familiar with athletes becoming models unto themselves. Whether we’re talking about tennis stars promoting global accessory brands, basketball players putting out major athletic shoes, or Europe’s great footballers showing up dressed to the nines at public events, it’s common to see some of the boldest, most innovative, and classiest looks on the world’s greatest athletes.
So now we’re asking – who’s next? We never really know until an athlete attains a significant spotlight and starts to exhibit a personal sense of style. However, we can make a few educated guesses among the up-and-coming sports stars of the world.
Kylian Mbappé is a French football hero who makes this list largely because of his place in sport, as opposed to any particular look he’s already exhibited. Already a World Cup winner and Paris St.-Germain standout at age 20, Mbappé appears destined for one of the best and most decorated careers in modern football history. And with how big a spotlight football stars command these days, it seems inevitable that he’ll ultimately be looked upon as a fashion example. For the time being he’s best known for elevated athletic wear, but even in this kind of casual clothing, Mbappé displays an easy style that seems to signal bigger things to come.
There are a lot of young stars on the professional tennis circuit these days, on both the men’s and women’s sides. But there may not be another one as promising as Naomi Osaka. At 21 years of age, she turned up-and-coming status into consecutive Grand Slam wins at the U.S. Open and Australian Open – two of the biggest tournaments in the sport. Osaka has become a huge star in Japan, and is on a fast track toward international stardom as well. And she happens to have earned style write-ups already. Granted, Osaka adopts a fairly casual vibe, so we are aren’t exactly seeing her tied to major fashion brands just yet, but she’s certainly another figure to watch in this regard.
Zion Williamson is still a teenager on his way to the NBA, but he just turned in one of the best college basketball seasons any individual player has ever had. Williamson was the main reason the March Madness betting platforms this past spring pretty much universally had Duke as the title favorite. And though Duke didn’t end up winning, Williamson’s performance only bolstered his growing legend. Somewhat like Mbappé and Osaka he’s displayed a largely casual style in the public eye so far. However, also like those two, he’s going to be so prominent in the international spotlight, it seems inevitable his fashion will ultimately be taken seriously.
We mentioned that there are a lot of young stars in both men’s and women’s tennis, and while Osaka has seized “next big thing” status in the WTA, Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas may be in the process of doing so in the ATP. Having beaten Roger Federer at the Australian Open and recently Rafael Nadal in his de facto “home tournament,” the Madrid Open, Tsitsipas has proven to be a real contender at just 20 years of age. His fashion personality has yet to reveal itself, but the way other men in tennis have been in the modern era, it stands to reason he’ll wind up displaying style sensibility to be envied. He’s already a thoroughly photogenic athlete with the kind of ease about him that leads some athletes to be so effortlessly stylish.
Aly Raisman’s time as an athlete in the public eye may be at an end, but she established herself in 2012 and 2016 as one of the planet’s best gymnasts. She still has a prominent voice in U.S. (and by extension world) gymnastics though, and while she’s remained a very visible figure, she’s established herself as yet another sports fashion icon. For her sheer ability to present whatever she’s wearing with the utmost confidence, Raisman was one of the youngest athletes featured in a Sports Illustrated piece on the “Fashionable 50” in sports.