One of the best-dressed men in the NFL, Andre Branch is not a typical football player. A defensive end for the Miami Dolphins on the field, off the field, he’s a fashion connoisseur. Raised by a single mother who stressed good grooming and hard work, his love for fashion garnered an internship with the popular Rag & Bone brand. Branch spoke with rolling out about his love for fashion and some great gift ideas for Mother’s Day.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I think I was introduced to fashion at a very young age. I never could afford it when I was younger. But for me now, it’s just a way of life. My mother always told me to be presentable, so I took that and ran with it. When I got into the NFL I could afford certain things, I could visit certain places and learn more about fashion. I’m a bigger guy, and I tell people all the time if I gained 10 pounds I’d be out of the fashion game. I would always have a love for it but I couldn’t dress as fashionably as I want to because it would be tough.
How did you connect with Rag & Bone?
One of the brands I started following when I got into the NFL was Rag & Bone because they have a skinny jean in a bigger size. I kept on researching them and kept on buying with them and I had an opportunity to intern with them last year. I learned a lot, and I know that after football, my focus will be on fashion. To learn the game from Rag & Bone and to make friends and lifelong connections was amazing.
Do you ever offer fashion advice to your fellow NFL players?
Every day. I know a lot of stylists. I don’t have one, but I’m basically a stylist to half of the locker room. I give them free tips, but I don’t have time for it right now. If they want help I can connect them with friends who are stylists. A lot of people ask me why [I’m not] a stylist, but right now I am focused on my career in football.
Tell us about your sneaker collection.
Up until about a year ago, I had 500 pairs of sneakers. I have been collecting shoes my entire life and I love it. Now with the way that social media is set up these 10-year-old kids are sneaker gurus and it’s becoming oversaturated. It takes my love away from it because when you remake classic shoes that shouldn’t ever come out again you’re downplaying the original shoes. So, I sold a lot of my shoes. I don’t just have them to say I have that shoe, I wear all my shoes. I am for the shoe game, but if you don’t know your history on sneakers I just can’t get with it.
What is your relationship like with your mother?
She is my why. I was raised by my mother and grandmother and I do everything to make them proud. My grandmother passed two years ago but that’s who I do it for. I told myself at the age of 17 I wasn’t going to ask her to do anything but be a mother and I haven’t looked back since. At the age of 4, my grandfather passed and they told me that I was the man of the house. Of course, at that age, I wasn’t ready and I didn’t even know what that meant. When I was about 8 we had a discussion in school about families. This is when I learned about being the man of the house and that I needed to protect and serve these two women. I still wasn’t ready then, but by 17 I was the man of the house. It is important for me to make them proud in everything I do, in sports, my day-to-day life, and how I move.
What does your mother say about your success today?
She tells me all the time that she’s the proudest mother in the world. I work harder every day to keep that smile on her face. Where I’m from you rarely make it out. I was able to provide for her and I’ve been providing for her for a while. She never asked for anything, not a house or a car, but I just wanted her to know how much she was appreciated and this hard work put in is for her. I don’t have a girlfriend, wife or any kids, so it’s me and her.
When you were a kid, what do you remember most about your mom?
I remember how the roles were turned. She was the breadwinner of my family. She would work her tail off to make sure everyone in her family was good especially her only child. I never knew how much she made, but she was a billionaire in my eyes. She would give you her last. That’s the type of woman she is and she’s the best mom in the world.
What are your suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts?
It’s tough because my mom has everything, but I try to switch it up. Flowers are always great, especially Eternity Flowers which last a year. I like to match it up with a good candle. I have a few friends who have their own candle business called Voyage, which is out of Los Angeles. They have some big candles with 850 hours of burn life. They tend to make candles to match perfumes. Perfume is always a good thing. A camera, and photography classes because moms always want to make memories. Watches are great because they can wear them daily. My mom loves to cook so some type of cookware. Everyone’s mom is different, but I hope my suggestions help.