Ex-Olympians Who Have Found a Fashion Next Life

 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

The 2020—technically 2021—Olympics are almost here! After COVID-19 delayed the quadrennial celebration of sports, the Olympics is coming back, bold, and beautiful. Throughout history, the Olympics has produced some of the most celebrated athletes in the world from Jesse Owens to Jim Thorpe to Michael Phelps to Simone Biles. Of course, the life of an active athlete can be short. People can’t expect to be approaching retirement age and still running sprints and doing somersaults when they in prime Olympic condition.

So, what happens in life after the Olympics? Many go on to become coaches of their former respective fields. Some will go on to become sports commentators, providing insights and analyses to their once-beloved events. Then there are those who take a more fashionable route, literally. Many ex-Olympians find their post-competition life in the fashion and entertainment fields, whether it be through collaborations with brands, launching fashion lines of their own, or becoming the face of brand campaigns, the fashion industry can be their oyster. Fashion Reverie has dug through the history archives to find ex-Olympians who have managed to make a mark, however small or large, in the fashion industry.

Image courtesy of popsugar.com

Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner made history at the Olympics with her six-year decathlon career, setting a third successive world record at the 1976 Summer Olympics. She would later go on to work on various film and television projects, now very famously known for her time on “Keeping Up with The Kardashians,” during her marriage to Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner. In recent years, Jenner has made a name for herself in fashion and beauty starring in a MAC Cosmetics campaign and appearing in ads for H&M.

She’s done a drastic 180 turn from fashion, though, and has recently stepped into the realm of politics. While many are confused as to why a transgender woman would associate themselves with conservative politics, Jenner is running as a Republican in the recall election to unseat California’s incumbent Democratic governor Gavin Newsom. She was also a vocal supporter of Donald J. Trump, much to the chagrin of LGBT advocates and progressives. If the California governor’s mansion doesn’t work out for her, she can always start a beauty line.

Image courtesy of thecut.com

Johnny Weir

Figure skating champion Johnny Weir was known for being a master on the ice and a lover of fashion, wearing everything from Tiffany jewelry to Louis Vuitton scarves when he wasn’t on the rink. One of Weir’s post-Olympics ventures was launching an entire collection of dresses for men on eDress.me. He also co-designed a silver mink coat for fall/winter 2011 fashion season with fashion designer Adrienne Landau. There’s no denying Weir knows how to make a fashion statement.

Images courtesy of bet.com

Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie’s height didn’t come in handy only when she was racking up Olympic medals as a world champion basketball player. The WNBA player also has racked up a few modeling credits having been featured in Vogue and Newsweek. Early in her career, Leslie was signed with Wilhelmina Models, one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in the world. In addition to her fashion endeavors, Leslie has also garnered film and television credits making cameos as herself on “Sister, Sister,” “Think Like a Man,” and “What Men Want.” In June 2019, she was named the coach of Ice Cube’s BIG3 3-on-3 basketball league team Triplets.

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Kristi Yamaguchi

In 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi dominated at the Winter Olympics winning a gold medal in figure skating. An entire generation would learn of her choreographed greatness outside of the ice rink when she won season 6 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Yamaguchi had a fashion moment in 2012 when she launched Tsu.ya, a limited-edition, 18-piece activewear line that included yoga pants, leggings, jackets, tee shirts, and tops. Proceeds of the products went toward Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation, which supports educational and recreational activities for children. She may no longer be selling activewear, but her charity is still alive and well.

Image courtesy of the guardian.co.uk

Casey Legler

Former Olympic swimmer Casey Legler competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics, and while she didn’t take home any medals, and quit swimming competitively two years later, eventually she would find a home in the fashion industry after she met photographer Cass Bird who connected her with Ford Models. Legler became the first woman signed with Ford to exclusively model men’s clothes. As a model, Legler has been featured in Vogue, Le Monde, and Time.

Image courtesy of vogue.com

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova is known for being hyper focused, like a laser when it comes to the tennis court and her training. Consequently, it’s not easy to lure her attention with fashion partnerships. That being said, some brands were lucky enough to put their fashion stamp on the highly acclaimed tennis player. Off the court, Sharapova has been an advertising campaign star for Tag Heuer, Tiffany & Co., Fred Perry, and Lacoste. In 2010, she collaborated with Nike for the Nike Maria Sharapova Collection.

When Sharapova announced she would be stepping back from being a professional tennis player, she was interviewed by vogue.com hinting at what her next endeavors. With so many fashion eyes on Vogue, the red carpet of fashion could be rolling out for her next. Do we sense a Maria Sharapova line on the horizon?

Image courtesy of nastialukin.com

Nastia Liukin

Nastia Liukin brought home five Olympics medals for Team USA, and outside of doing flips and tricks as a gymnast, she’s been an ad campaign star for brands including Adidas and Longines. She also starred in a beauty campaign for CoverGirl. In terms of fashion collaborations, she released a Supergirl twins line with JCPenney, creating an affordable line for all of her fans across the US. In addition, she designed a leotard for GK Elite and modeled for Max Azria. After winning a gold medal at the age of 20, Liukin said she had to find a new challenge, and fashion was it.

In addition to her time as a model and a series of ad campaigns, Liukin also runs her own website where she features street style photos of herself decked out in glam fashion. Her Instagram page is also an homage to her fashion choices ranging from Zimmermann to LoveShackFancy.

—Kristopher Fraser

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