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Clothing Designer Helps NFL Prospects Suit Up For The Draft


Tonight in Chicago, it's night one of the 2015 National Football League draft. It's a three-day spectacle trained on up-and-coming athletes who have prepared their entire lives for this - to see if they've been found worthy to play in the National Football League. For these young men, tonight isn't a black-tie event, but it's pretty close. And many of these athletes turn to Boushra Alchabaoun when they need to suit up for an event like this. She designs men's suits, and she's been counting NFL draftees among her clients for a decade. She joins us from Chicago. Welcome to the program.

BOUSHRA ALCHABAOUN: Hello there. Thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: So you're both suit designer and also consultant.

ALCHABAOUN: Absolutely, styling, everything.

SIEGEL: Let's say a left tackle goes high in the draft and he's one of your clients. What size might his suit be?

ALCHABAOUN: It's all custom-made, so it's not, like, off the rack sizing. You know, they go from 46, 48 to 50 chest sizes. I mean, it all depends.

SIEGEL: You do shirts as well - collar sizes.

ALCHABAOUN: Absolutely, 18-19 inches.

SIEGEL: What are the things that the players want in the way of a suit, apart from being the right size and fitting them well. What are the styles that they're looking for, and where do you draw the line in terms of what you'll design for them?

ALCHABAOUN: Well, it all depends on the guy. I mean, some of them go to their mothers, or their grandmothers choose it. And I have a type of guy that wants to go so extreme that I have no say. And some of them want to be very flashy, very loud and that's it. They're set.

SIEGEL: Well, you know, I mean, they're not auditioning for law school here, so why not go as flashy as you can? What do you say to them?

ALCHABAOUN: I try to let them know that these pictures are forever. This year in particular, this class is quite interesting (laughter). It's a different type of generation. They're '90s kids. Their style is different, and some of them know exactly what they want, and there's no way you can change it.

SIEGEL: What's in? As far as they're concerned, what's in?

ALCHABAOUN: Loud - color, lapel, and these shoes that have been in style, they call them red bottoms. To them, that's what's in. They're $1,500, $3,000 shoes; up to $7,000 for a pair of shoes. And so a lot of these guys, you know, look up to other athletes and want to wear these shoes. And so this year in particular, I don't know how they're getting them, but they're wanting us to base an outfit on these shoes, and they're, like, gold spikes. It's pretty outrageous.

SIEGEL: I assume that for most of these guys just coming out of college, having a custom suit tailored for them must be an unusual experience, at first I would imagine.

ALCHABAOUN: Yes. It really is. I was sharing a story - one of my clients that I was fitting - and he was trying on his suit for the first time - was in shock that he had a pair of pants go over his seat area and sit on his waist. Because their thighs are so big and their waists are so small that, off the rack, they're generally buying two sizes too big in order to go up their legs. And they hang down a bit. So I had a guy who's like, oh my gosh, they're sitting on my waist. He was so excited. It was so sweet.

SIEGEL: How many buttons are there in a typical suit jacket? Still three or do you have to...

ALCHABAOUN: No, it's two-button.

SIEGEL: A two-button suit.

ALCHABAOUN: No one does three buttons anymore

SIEGEL: (Laughter) Thank you. What am I wearing here? Oh, you're right. No, I have a two-button.

ALCHABAOUN: (Laughter).

SIEGEL: Boushra Alchabaoun, it's a pleasure to talk with you, and I'm looking forward to seeing some of your work over the next couple of nights.

ALCHABAOUN: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

SIEGEL: Her firm is elevee Custom Clothes. It's dressing 16 draft hopefuls. She has seven of them herself at tonight's NFL draft in Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.