Full credit to the young flanker’s races outfit, says Rose Hoare – style was the winner on the day.
Scrolling through Twitter last week, I saw an image that stopped me in my tracks. It was All Black Ardie Savea at the Wellington Races, in an outfit so fresh that for a minute I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing.
Savea, 1.88m, wore peachy-pink short dungarees with a white skivvy, a clear plastic anorak, round mirror-lens sunglasses, a single hoop earring and a white baseball cap worn backwards.
It looked like something A$AP Ferg would wear in one of his videos.
It looked like something Slick from Bell Biv Devoe might have worn while being flagrant in the 90s, with elements of raver clubwear.
It made me happy to see this pretty motherfucker grinning away, holding a souvlaki, looking like a next-gen Bobby Brown. (Endearingly, in the picture, his missus is also wearing an all-in-one jumpsuit, with white sneakers that appear to match his, and a white baseball cap of her own: the first step toward unashamed his ‘n hers dressing.)
The first thing I thought was, can you just style the All Blacks in anything these days? I assumed some paid professional must have put this funky-fresh outfit together in a showroom somewhere, and Savea had graciously agreed to help out and wear it. But now I think that’s just his own personal style.
His $74 dungarees appear to be from ASOS and, in a masterful sidestep on par with what we’ve seen from his brother on the field, the skivvy seems to be by Cos, a Swedish label known for the kind of high-end minimalism that British Sunday Times fashion supplement editors go nuts for. Fucking Cos!
The next thing I thought was, if you’d told me that some day I’d see an All Black wearing pink short-alls, I would have laughed in your face. All my life, the All Blacks have embodied an approach to style that my grandfather used to describe with the epithet “a gentleman is always one step behind fashion”.
Almost to a man, you’d see them strolling about in pleat-front cotton trousers with maybe a woven leather belt and a polo shirt, the type of outfit my dad would refer to as his “civvies”. Or else it would be athleisure gear with beanies or puffer vests in the mix. If they were gonna get freaky, maybe they’d wear the Beige Brigade strip or something retro made from towelling.
Don’t get me wrong, the All Blacks have always scrubbed up beautifully for formal occasions, but despite being physically immaculate, monied, highly visible entertainers, their style has been pretty relentlessly staid and traditional for decades.
While NBA players like Russell Westbrook and Iman Shumpert are wearing edgy shiz like Off-White and Hood By Air and filling photo galleries in fashion magazines, rugby players are the Kate Middletons of the sports world: seemingly determined to avoid attention.
With one outfit, Ardie Savea has singlehandedly dragged us out of the Venn diagram of several different types of boring that is typical off-field All Blacks style, perplexing and discomforting some rugby fans who could probably stand to have their horizons expanded, and killing several of his Instagram followers dead.