As the New Face of Crocs, Chelsea Baller Reece James Continues to Break the Mould
The England superstar is leading the way for a generation of players expressing themselves off the pitch.
Reece James is a footballer unafraid of expressing himself, on and off the pitch.
The Chelsea and England right-back has now established himself as one of the world’s elite players, having secured the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup with his club Chelsea, at the age of just 23. But what’s taken him to the top of the game is his undeniable individuality, with his self-assured style of play echoing his unique sense of self off it.
As one of the most fashion-forward ballers in the game, James’ unapologetic individuality stands out amongst his fellow peers in the game in more ways than one. Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s best fullbacks, RJ is firmly in his own lane when it comes to his style game, too. Whether it’s donning fuzzy, full-body mohair Marni, pulling up to the front row at Burberry shows, or spotlighting up-and-coming brands like Happy Camp3r, James has always stayed on the front foot when it comes to fashion.
In 2023, footballers have become undisputed sources of fashion inspiration, with fans keener than ever to know what their favourite player is wearing – with both high-end and high-street brands alike recognising this cultural momentum shift. Despite this, there aren’t too many footballers in the game that you would select as a natural fit to spotlight Crocs’ brand campaigns – but Reece James isn’t your average player.
James’ fearless self-expression makes him the perfect person to become the new face of Crocs, where he’s worked with the footwear brand to highlight the Echo Clog. First introduced in 2022, the Echo Clog is a dynamic new silhouette that represents a fresh design language for the brand, which serves up sports and street-led design credentials perfectly suited for James’ style.
James’ aspirational mantra of being the “pilot of his future”, and “not changing for anyone” resonates with Crocs’ own ‘Come as You Are’ mantra – which encourages everyone to be comfortable in their own shoes.
Ahead of the Crocs’ campaign, Hypebeast caught up with Reece to talk through why working with Crocs made sense for his unique sense of self-expression, his pride at seeing his sister Lauren dominate the game with Chelsea Women and what he’s targeting for the rest of the season at Stamford Bridge ahead of a huge few months at club level.
How did this collaboration come together?
When you have that natural love for a brand and you get the chance to work with them, you’ve got to grab it with both hands. As soon as I was shown the vision for the campaign and especially the new Echo range, I had to get involved. It’s just cool to be part of a brand that I have genuine affection for. That’s the key thing for me.
We’ve seen you wear a lot of designer in the past, and you’re undoubtedly one of the most fashion-forward ballers in the game. Have Crocs been in your rotation for a while?
Hahaha, I appreciate that! Absolutely. They go from being comfortable around the house to when you’re nipping out to get a coffee; you can basically wear them for anything, doing anything. Now when you see people in Crocs, you know what they are about, you know they get it.
“You can wear Crocs with anything – that’s what I really like. I think they allow you to be your true self or at least encourage you to do so.”
What do you like about Crocs? And why do you think they suit your personal style?
I think they allow you to be your true self or at least encourage you to do so. Whether it’s through the Jibbitz or the different colorways, you can express yourself through Crocs. I’ve always felt personal style allows you to really give a true indication of yourself. I’ve tried to do that both on the pitch and off it. Some of the stuff Crocs have been doing recently has been on another level, when I was being shown the new Echo range, it’s honestly so sick. There were so many pairs that were cool.
What sort of fits would you pair up with Crocs?
You can wear Crocs with anything that’s what I really like. You can wear loose-fitting bottoms and keep it smart, you can wear them with a tracksuit if you’re just going to get a coffee if you’re just around the house. Literally anything, they go with everything. But if I was to pick one, I think with spring coming as well, putting them with a hoody and shorts with white socks… that’s a vibe!
What is your favorite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
I don’t have a favorite at the moment to be fair, I like wearing things oversized and I try to wear a lot of independent brands. I bought a leather jacket recently which is super oversized and really cool. It looks vintage and it’s just different.
“I attended the most recent Burberry show, it was Daniel Lee’s first as Creative Director and it was insane.”
Is there anyone in the dressing room you’re looking at for style inspiration — and is there anyone that listens to you for help on their style game?
If I am honest no, some of the guys dress really well and I’m sure I’ve told them. I don’t really look for others for inspiration, well I don’t in football. It’s more from music, business, or American sport. I really like the way the guys, especially athletes, dress over there. I think we’re a few years behind those guys in the NBA, but we’re getting there!
You’re an NBA fan. Would you want to see tunnel fits begin to be introduced into the EPL?
Yeah, I think I would. I know it’s very big in Spain, isn’t it? For me it’s another way the fans can relate to the players as humans, it just removes the boundaries a bit and show who we really are. There’s also the element that you can truly be yourself which I really like as well.
What are your favorite brands to wear at the moment?
I attended the most recent Burberry show, it was Daniel Lee’s first as Creative Director and it was insane. One of the coolest shows I’ve ever been too and I really like what they are doing. I love Prada as well. I just think both of them are timeless. Let me try and give you something different too, there’s a brand on Instagram called The Happy Camp3r, they’re doing a lot to remove the stigma around mental health and I wear their tracksuits quite a lot… definitely check them out!
What are you targeting for the rest of the season?
I’ve learned so much this season, it’s been one of highs and lows but I want to keep playing as much as possible and finish the season strong. We are still in a position to win silverware, and that always has to be an aim for a club like us to keep playing, keep learning, keep growing, and let’s see where it takes us. We’re all focused on giving something back to the fans for this season.
“Women’s football is growing so fast as well, I’m glad Lauren’s helping push that. It’s not quite where it should be, especially when you look at the men’s game, but it’s getting there.”
How proud does it make you to see your sister balling out right now?
So proud, honestly. She’s an incredible player. I said recently that she could play in the Prem no question, she’s that good. She deserves everything she gets. I’m just enjoying seeing her rise. Women’s football is growing so fast as well, I’m glad she’s helping push that. It’s not quite where it should be, especially when you look at the men’s game, but it’s getting there. I think she can really move the needle and push the sport to a whole new level.
Lauren plays in a very similar style to yourself – is that something that you thought would happen when you played football together growing up?
So many people say this! I don’t know really, I suppose we probably just watched each other so much that it was natural. I think it just works for us both being professionals and knowing what the other is going through – you always know that she gets it.
Lauren is also very well dressed – is she someone you ask for tips on your style?
Haha no, I don’t but she does dress well. We’ve both always been really into the way we dress and style so it’s just natural.