Former NFL star and Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz knows about taking the road less traveled. After growing up in Paterson, New Jersey in the shadow of the New York Giants, Cruz took his talents to the University of Massachusetts. Despite being a strong player at UMass, Cruz went undrafted in the NFL Draft before signing with the Giants. That’s when the breakout began.
Cruz had an exceptional game in the 2010 preseason and by the 2011 season, he was one of the Giants’ most productive receivers. That led to Cruz catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl, helping the Giants defeat the Patriots for the championship. Cruz continued along with the Giants, but after suffering a serious injury and the Giants deciding to move in a new direction, Cruz ended up retiring in 2018. That led Cruz to work more on TV and in the fashion arena, something he’s been interested in his entire life.
That work in fashion and on the E! News series Pop of the Morning led Cruz to New York Fashion Week, where he appeared alongside beauty entrepreneur and host Zanna Roberts Rassi in a panel discussion as part of BMW and IMG’s campaign for this NYFW season, “Road Less Traveled,” which highlights inspiring voices in fashion and culture who are driving change and pushing boundaries. BMW, which is the Official Automotive Partner of New York Fashion Week in 2020, brought together the two stars at NYFW: The Shows, and in partnership with IMG spoke with Cruz and Roberts Rassi about their journeys into fashion and entertainment, and the intersection of business and fashion.
“I think that’s exactly what my story is,” Cruz says. “It’s the road, the journey, and the road less traveled. Not a lot of football athletes are in this space and doing different things and being on shows on TV and out during fashion week. It’s been exciting to be a part of this and all that BMW and IMG have been doing together and during New York Fashion Week.”
Cruz spoke about his journey into the fashion world, playing with Eli Manning, taking the “Road Less Traveled”, and more.
What’s it been like to work in the fashion world now and collaborate with IMG and BMW on this panel and events during New York Fashion Week?
It’s been great. I’ve been signed to IMG as a football client for a long time, and I think naturally just flowed over into fashion and different things that I was curious and interested in. So I think over the years, those things just kind of blended together, and I think that’s how these opportunities are coming together. And BMW heard my name and knows me from being here and being in New York City, and we all came together and set all this up. It’s exciting to be part of something like that and partner with everyone during fashion week.
Part of the BMW/IMG campaign has been talking about “The Road Less Traveled” and your journey. How have you taken that road that led you here to NYFW?
I think that’s exactly what my story is. It’s the road, the journey, and the road less traveled. Not a lot of football athletes are in this space and doing different things and being on shows on TV and out during fashion week. It’s been great getting to show my personality. So I think I want to keep doing that and create a path for other football athletes specifically. Because basketball guys get all the love, everybody knows they’re going to get it, so I want football guys to understand that they can be themselves too. That those guys, they can go out there and show themselves and show who they are and show their personalities and not be ridiculed for it. And I think it actually works to their benefit. So I’m just a beacon of hope for those guys. I know the more that I continue to do that, the easier their path is, the next guy that does, actually can have an easier route.
What was it like playing with Eli Manning, who just recently retired? What did you learn from him that you’ve been able to use now in your fashion/entertainment career?
It was incredible. Not everyone gets the opportunity to play with a Hall of Famer, and play with someone that’s just so focused on the game. The attention to detail that he pays, he has some incredible discipline. He made everybody else better. He didn’t speak much, but you saw his leadership in his work. You saw it in the way he put his time into the game in those meeting rooms. He’s in the film room working hard whether it’s after a win or a loss, he’s ready to get set for the next week. So if I can take that level of discipline that I learned from him and bring it to everything else that I do, I’d be fortunate for that and what he taught me.
How do you see yourself being able to make an impact in fashion coming up? They asked you on the panel where fashion will be in the years ahead, but for you, how do you see the immediate future and what’s coming up a few years down the line?
Well, I think it’s just creating those resources and having those resources and those relationships that I made over the years. Sustainability is a major part of it, and so is being able to think creatively and push those boundaries. I want to use those connections and do different collaborations and just sit down and talk to the people in the fashion world and see how we can work together to continue that narrative.To create that sustainability in clothing, but also make it creatively and put my personality and experience into it. To still make it look like something that we want to work on together. So it’s just, now that I’ve created these relationships, I want to keep making sure we’re pushing for all that and trying new things. It’s important to see brands that are understanding sustainability, brands that are working to protect that. Clothes are important and they can make a big impact in the sustainability forefront.
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Thrilled to be on the debut episode of POP OF THE MORNING with these champs! Here’s to all the epic shows ahead!! @lillianavazquez @stweedie @victorcruz ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️ Congrats to the peeps behind the scenes! @tammy.filler @jenmlavin @elenilazares ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️ @popofthemorning LIVE FROM NYC! Watch 11AM ET daily!! @enews @eentertainment
How would you describe your style? And what’s some style advice you try and follow for yourself?
Well, I think for myself it is just always to be comfortable, first and foremost. And never do anything Whether it’s something tight or too small or too big, always be comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. For me, I always love doing both kinds of things—working and wearing stuff that looks good on the street or something oversized and look and be comfortable in that. And then also get into a room with Fendi where I wear something really stylish. So I just think, I always like to take risks on both sides and just put your best foot forward and, and good things usually come from that.
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