The Story Behind Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt’s Sports Illustrated Cover Style: Houston Connections Keep the Worthy Sportspersons of the Year Looking FineBY Shelby Hodge // 12.07.17
Jose Altuve, dressed by Festari for Men, and J.J. Watt dressed from his closet at the Sportsperson of the Year Show in New York. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated
Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated
Rudy Festari, J.J. Watt at the Una Notte in Italia event
Looking ever so sharp on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Sportsperson of the Year honorees Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt (not particularly known for their sartorial splendor) didn’t just run to their closets and select one of their off-the-rack suits for the photo shoot. They got a little help from their Sports Illustrated friends, who tapped nationally-recognized photography and wardrobe stylist Summar Salah of Houston to help the gents.
Shortly before the photo shoot, Salah reached out to Festari for Men owner Rudy Festari for an assist with outfitting the two sports superstars. It was top secret until the big Sportsperson of the Year reveal.
Festari has long been the go-to menswear shop for a number of sports stars including MLB Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and Houston Texans Whitney Mercilus and Andre Hal, to name a few. In addition to starring in the Festari for Men Una Notte in Italia fashion show in 2013, Watt had turned to Festari for the proper attire for his first ESPY Awards appearance. This time around Watt tasked Salah with finding something already in his closet.
With most of the Astros wearing their first-ever fancy suits at the team’s annual Diamond Dreams Gala, Altuve proved to be a special case. Make that a size 38-40 short for the 5-foot-6 powerhouse second baseman. From the Festari racks (with appropriate alterations), the American League MVP was outfitted in a black classic Italian suit, white shirt and tie.
The Sports Illustrated story notes, “This issue is intended to celebrate a new generation of athletes who care, in all senses of the word: caring about humanitarian efforts, about social and political justice, about their communities and about their crafts.”
And of the two honorees, the editors write, “The stories of these two athletes who care represent two very different paths, but they led to the same destination: #HoustonStrong. Congratulations to J.J. Watt and José Altuve, our 2017 Sportsperson of the Year honorees.”