Michael Vick launches sportswear line

Michael Vick may be the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback, but his new line of sportswear has a decidedly basketball look.

The sporty menswear collection called V7, which Vick will introduce Wednesday morning at the Cottman Avenue Modell's, features two styles of shorts: loose, knee-length and the tight, compression kind. There are compression tops, too, and six graphic T's that blast inspirational, Nike-style quotes: "It's not how you start, but how you finish." (A motto for his career?) And along the legs of some of the shorts is written "Vicktory." Colors are red, black, gray, blue — no Eagles green.

"V7 has been a dream of mine since I began playing sports," Vick said in a text message. "I think every kid dreams of having his own shoe or clothing line."

Vick designed V7 with the help of celebrity clothing-line mogul Ruby Azrak, best known in the fashion industry for his work with Russell Simmons' Phat Farm gear. He also collaborated with his longtime business partner Brian Sher.

"Michael was integral in the process," Sher said, helping with logo design and placement and weighing in on the quality of the material. Available in boys' and men's sizes, the clothes, with prices ranging from $12 for boys' shorts to $39.99 for compression T's, will be sold exclusively at 30 Modell's stores, 20 of which are in Philadelphia. There are plans to introduce a women's line, possibly as early as fall. Some of the money from sales will be donated to the Philadelphia chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.

One could say Vick's latest endeavor is the final building block the 32-year-old athlete needed to restore his image. Just five years ago, Vick turned himself in to authorities for his role in a Virginia dogfighting ring. Not only did Vick spend 20 months in jail, he also lost all of his endorsement deals, including a $2 million contract with Nike.

Vick signed another deal with Nike in 2011 and last month he reportedly signed a $100 million contract with the Eagles. In June he married longtime sweetheart Kijafa Frink (she owns the Pink Elephant jewelry line and store on South Street) in a lavish wedding in Miami.

Football players, unlike basketball players, aren't known for their snazzy dressing, but a few have tried to make their mark in fashion. Often, celebrity clothing is introduced with a bang but goes the way of bargain-basement tables, and the lines eventually fizzle. For some reason, basketball shoes — we all want to be like Mike — seem to do the best because of their aspirational qualities. Buying sneakers that a player himself wears on the court is certainly more attractive than buying a silk shirt he merely endorses. Not to mention that men work out — whether running, biking, or lifting — wearing basketball-style looks.

The first NFL player to start an apparel line, coincidentally, was former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. In 2006, McNabb and Reebok launched Super 5, more of a fashion line that featured argyle sweaters and baggy slacks.

Since then there have been a handful of football players with clothing lines including former Arena Football player Robert Mackey; his J Zemar collection caters to big and tall dudes. And last year former Washington Redskins quarterback Gibran Hamdan launched a slim-fitting clothing line called Alial Fital.

Vick's sportswear isn't focusing on cutting-edge trends — baggy shorts and V-neck tops never go out of style for athletic men — so it's likely he'll score a fashion touchdown.

At least initially.


Contact Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @ewellingtonphl. Read her blog, "Mirror Image," at philly.com/mirrorimage.