Behind Craig Sager’s Suits: Rex Fabrics Talks Sideline Reporter’s Iconic Style [Interview]

Craig Sager’s 2012-13 NBA Season suits.

Before post-game Playoffs style, before the faux glasses fashion Finals, there was one guy consistently and single-handedly ramping up the sartorial game of the NBA: Craig Sager. The NBA on TNT sideline reporter has made a name for himself by combining exemplary work with a very distinct personal steez (as in, you can see this guy coming from infinity eye-bugging miles away). In a field wherein being fashion forward has previously taken a backseat, Sager’s technicolor “suit and tie s***” may have been misunderstood, at times even mocked, for years. That never shot his style spirit or deterred him from his trademark look, though, lunging after every brightly colored, kooky print-laden, tailored garment he could get his hands on. That IDGAF attitude and style savvy makes him, to us anyway, a kind of Lady Gaga of the NBA which is high praise from these quarters of the interwebz. Thus, we’re celebrating him with a retrospective look at his suits from the 2012-13 NBA season AND a quick chat with Ricardo Aldama who owns and presides over Rex Fabrics, the Miami fabric store responsible for so many of Sager’s custom suits.

MTV STYLE: So what’s the abbreviated story of Rex Fabrics?

RICARDO ALDAMA: Rex Fabrics is a one-stop shop for all fabric needs and dress-making needs. In our world-renowned show room, you will find a collection of fabrics of every type, pattern, and quality imaginable. Ninety percent of our fabrics are Rex exclusives which means they cannot be found anywhere else in the world because most of them are manufactured exclusively for us. We offer haute couture services for everything from stunning bridal gowns to little girls’ dresses and bespoke tailoring services for men. We’re right in Miami—one huge show room and an immense web store.

And can you tell me a little bit about your general clientele?

We include a lot of celebrities, some American, some European, and the elite of Latin America shops in our store which entails singers, very prominent society people, from those countries.

Craig Sager picking out fabrics.
Photo: Rex Fabrics

We’re talking today about one client in particular: Craig Sager. When was the first time you worked with him and what was that like?

We’ve been working with Craig Sager for the past two NBA seasons. I think he found his perfect niche in our store because eccentricity is what we do. It was very easy for us to combine his sense of style with our top-of-the-line bespoke tailoring. He was recommended to us by a friend of his in the NBA, and then, he decided to visit us one day and we started like that. Ever since, he has fallen in love with our fabrics, with our service, with our creations. But he puts a lot of emphasis on choosing everything himself. He has a unique style. Even though he follows our advice and our latest trends, he’s very unique.

How many of his suits have you made since starting? Has it been all of the suits from this season or a handful?

I think we’ve made over 15 suits for Craig, ranging from plain color suits to those colorful patterns that he adores. Not all of his suits are made by us. He has a lot of other suits, but the most eccentric ones lately? Ninety-nine percent of them are ours.

Craig Sager in a Rex Fabrics suit interviewing Carmelo Anthony at the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.
Photo: Rex Fabrics

What about the All-Star Game one that had a kind of silver brocade?

The striped one? That jacket that he wore? That’s a popular Italian brocade that he fell in love with. We had a hundred, two hundred brocades similar to it, but he went directly for that one. Boom! This is it! That type of client is a pleasure to work for because he knows exactly what he wants.

And of course, he’s willing to take risks.

Oh my god, yes, and he goes beyond! Wild—he’s wild! He puts a lot of emphasis on the specific style depending on the fabric that he picks or the print, stripe or solid. “How should I make this? I think like this peak lapel better than the regular lapel,” etc.

How much of the suit do you make for Craig? Is it just the jacket?

Depending on the style or print, he might decide just to make a jacket, but on many occasions, we’ll make the jacket, the pants, the vest, the shirt, the pocket piece, the ties, everything! We do it all.

And all sourced from the fabrics in-house.

Yes, he picks the fabrics, and then, we begin with the bespoke tailoring process; of course, following his strict guidelines which we try to match with our strict bespoke tailoring trends to have a spectacular suit or jacket made.

Craig Sager getting fitted at Rex Fabrics.
Photo: Rex Fabrics

It’s a balance of giving the customer what he wants and also making a product that you guys are proud of.

Correct. He might come into the store with an idea but a few walks in—I mean, he’s surrounded by thousands of meters of fabric, thousands of yards—the idea that he was bringing might change when he sees something more exotic. He follows what he likes. Out of all my clients all around the world, he’s one of the ones that impresses me the most.

Why is that?

Because of his eccentricity. Because I deal with a lot of celebrities and very prominent people from the states and other places, and they just go for the best but in very formal ways. Like, if I’m dealing with a minister from X country, he wants to have the latest suits, something traditional. When you’re talking to Craig, he says, “OK, Rick, don’t show me what everyone else buys.” Because we carry the most expensive fabric lines in the world. He says, “I don’t want to see what’s in the stores. Get me above what’s in the stores.” He doesn’t want to follow the same guidelines as 99% of our regular elite customers. “Rick, get me the latest Loro Piana fabric. I want a suit in the latest cashmere from Scabal from Brussels. I want to have a suit made or a jacket made or a blazer for a dinner that I have in the latest velour from Dormeuil from Paris.” Craig goes nuts. He knows everything, and he says, “No, Rick. I don’t want that. I’m unique. I have my own style, and I want to go beyond that.” So he searches the store and does his homework on the web store, and then this is the result.

Craig Sager in a suit from Rex Fabrics.
Photo: Rex Fabrics

So now that you’ve worked with Craig for a season, has that already started playing into the way you guys buy new fabric?

Most definitely. Without a doubt. Since we work with so many fabric lines, we are given, even prior to the final production, samples of everything that’s going to be produced in the future, and we know what’s going to be good, and what’s not going to be as good. When I see certain samples in the pre-show, Craig is one of the first people that comes to mind. I know what he’s going to get. Based on that, I get 30-40% of my fabrics. When we’re talking about the trends in men’s fabrics, what could be used for a men’s jacket, lately the best dinner jackets for men, the best tuxedos, are being made out of fantastic brocades with Swarovski crystals or with lapels in velvet. I wouldn’t say it’s more feminine, but fashion is breaking the regular rules. Men are going to the extremes. This is why Craig is so special because he follows that. He has a passion for it. He’s a showman and he’s very knowledgeable about his stuff. We don’t just love him, we adore him.


Like us on Facebook so we can be friends and follow us on Twitter @MTVstyle to talk.