Remembering James Harden's Fashion Highlights from 2013-14 Season

John WilmesContributor IJune 3, 2014

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR JORDAN BRAND - James Harden is seen at the Jordan Brand party celebrating Michael Jordan’s birthday on Friday, February 15, 2013 in Houston, TX.  The Jordan Brand launched its Air Jordan XX8 in Houston on the same day.  (Photo by Omar Vega/Invision for Jordan Brand/AP Images)
Omar Vega/Associated Press

As James Harden solidified himself as a superstar with the Houston Rockets this year, he made sure not to miss one of the most important rites of passage to being uber-famous in today’s NBA.

He got wild with his outfits. The fashion bar was raised yet again this postseason—especially by Harden's former teammate Russell Westbrook—and although Harden and the Rockets didn't make it deep enough for him to make a bigger national imprint with his attire, the regular season showed us plenty of his unique wearing touch.

The two-time All-Star has always shown a flair for the quirky, eye-catching style that defines his generation’s pregame and postgame look. His iconic beard has gained him fans since his rookie season, and even his draft day outfit was a cut above:

His consistently noteworthy attire this year has carved him an undeniable spot among the league’s most curious dressers. He may not yet be as notorious as Westbrook for his clothing, but Harden’s garb has been outstanding. Take this behemoth cowboy hat he wore during the playoffs, for instance:

Key to Harden’s choice of hat is his sense of humor. A man with no sense of irony simply couldn’t get away with a look so cartoonish. Try to imagine the ever serious Kobe Bryant wearing this.

This 10-gallon cap, like all daring clothing, gives us a peak into the identity of the often quiet Harden. He’s the most exquisite kind of goofball, inviting the world to giggle with him at the ludicrous state of fame he’s reached each time he dons such stuff.

Not everything Harden wears is so silly, however. Just look at this exceedingly fresh shirt he wore on February 26:

A great, vibrant design. Harden’s torso is made into a surreal vista with this top, replete with a terrific striped collar, and a matching backpack that reminds us of his Oklahoma City Thunder heyday. Harden’s other former teammate and close friend Kevin Durant has long been known for making the book bag into a new-aged accessory in the locker room, and it’s a good look on Harden too. It underscores the youthful, playful fervor we love about Harden and his creative jaunts to the rim.

Speaking of Durant, here he is with Harden on Saturday night of this year’s All-Star weekend in New Orleans:

Here, one word comes to mind, above all: extreme. Extreme swagger, extreme color, extreme add-ons. The loud Versace gold pattern swooping over the black-and-white stripes of the shirt are one thing, but when Harden adds the obtrusive glasses and thick chain to the mix, he’s really flirting with disaster here.

If it weren’t for the power of Harden’s character—and of both the Versace brand and his mega-star buddy—this ensemble would be an unmitigated flop. But Harden can fly in crazier costumes than most of us can, and his confidence grants a ton of credibility to what he wears. It’s tough to fully approve these particular threads, but you have to respect Harden’s willingness to take such a gaudy dive.

Here’s a more understated approach:

This spooky, minimalist sweatshirt fits Harden’s playing style about as snugly as it does his body. An efficient and singular expression, it should be the envy of many a designer. One rectangle and two ovals combine for a sketch that screams at anyone within a Texas-sized radius. A-plus.

One more:

Another winner. This print, reminiscent of the blooming beauty on the front of New Order’s indelible 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies, is just swell. The blocks of black on the chest and sleeves are a stark, cleansing contrast to the springy birth flooding the rest of the shirt, and the budding flowers make Harden’s beard look like one of God’s grander natural growths, too.

Between a shopping consultation and a lesson in Euro-stepping, it’s probably still safe to say that Harden is more valuable for the latter. But his distinct palette for fashion is one to watch for years to come. Let’s just hope that, next season, Harden and the Rockets can make a deeper push into the postseason and that he can delight us further with some purposefully chosen podium duds.