Russell Westbrook in the Acne Studios spring campaign.

PLAYING FAST AND LOOSE: Acne Studios’ American season continues. After shooting Cindy Crawford in Texas for its fall ads, the brand commissioned Juergen Teller to travel to Oklahoma to capture basketball player Russell Westbrook in action.

The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard is shown dribbling the ball in an outdoor court wearing a jacket and jeans from Acne’s denim line, in a nod to the first garment the label produced in 1997. Teller also shot some images in an improvised photo studio in his hotel bedroom.

Acne Studios creative director Jonny Johansson said the campaign was a continuation of his exploration of American iconography.

“I’ve been interested for a while in the relationship between fashion and sport. I wanted to connect with a sport that I’ve never played before, like basketball. I am always interested in America, and how as Swedish people we perceive America,” he said in a statement.

Russell Westbrook and Juergen Teller in the Acne Studios spring campaign.  Juergen Teller

“For so many people, fashion is like a religion. In Oklahoma, where Russell Westbrook lives, basketball is like a religion. Denim is like a religion in America. We sent Juergen to Oklahoma to find the link between them,” added Johansson, who is a keen surfer.

Westbrook, a fashion week front row regular who has his own clothing line, Honor the Gift, said he was a fan of Acne’s oversize fits and bright colors, though he struggled a little shooting outdoors shirtless in freezing temperatures.

“In a way, it wasn’t a very good idea because it was very, very cold outside! No, but it doesn’t look that cold in the images so Juergen did a great job of shooting and we had a great time,” he said. “When I first got into fashion, I only dreamed of being the face of a campaign. And with a great brand like Acne Studios, for this dream to play out in reality is really exciting.”

Sneakerheads will notice that Westbrook, who is under contract with Nike’s Jordan Brand, has hit feet pixellated in the shots to obscure his shoes.

Russell Westbrook in the Acne Studios spring campaign.  Juergen Teller

It was Teller’s first time working with the brand, and the whole thing was done spontaneously in just a few hours.

“They understood the way that I worked, and that there were elements that we could not control. They were completely behind us, and when I have that trust I can open myself and make my best work,” he said, praising Westbrook for his input.

“He was so friendly, so charming, and so excellent, and he was really open to what we wanted to do. Some sports people are so protected, but Russell was great. There was no fear and no arrogance,” Teller reported. “Afterward, Russell and his agent said they now always want to work this way all the time.”

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