Is Express one of the best sports scouts in the business?
Judging by the fashion retailer’s track record of signing Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors and Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs on the cusp of their first world championships, the answer would seem to be: yes.
The Columbus, Ohio-based company named Bryant its new men’s brand ambassador last March, a month before the 24-year-old started the second season of his Major League Baseball career. At the time, David Kornberg, Express’ president and chief executive officer, said: “Kris is one of the world’s most talented athletes and with his confident style, hard work ethic and unrelenting determination, we know he is going to be a game-changer for baseball and Express alike.” Since then, it’s peppered the Internet with photos of Bryant dressed in its simply polished clothes, both in the baseball stadium and out and about in Chicago.
Throughout the gripping seven-game series between the Cubs and Cleveland Indians, in which the Windy City’s sluggers hit their way to three consecutive wins to clinch the World Series title on Wednesday night, Express sponsored giveaways for T-shirts and baseball caps signed by the third baseman to its social media followers.
It must have been a bittersweet experience for Express, since its headquarters are a two-hour drive away from the Ohio team that lost to Bryant and the Cubs. Soon after the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years, Express issued a congratulatory tweet to its blue-eyed, 6 foot 5 inch celebrity spokesman in the wee hours of the night, prompting one female fan to respond: “best male model you’ve ever had.”
— EXPRESS (@express) November 3, 2016
Talking to Fox Sports minutes after the Cubs’ victorious team hug, Bryant maintained an aw-shucks aura after the win. “That was one of the best games anybody will ever see,” he said. “I’ve never won as a team. I’ve always been able to do it individually but this trumps everything.”
Express followed a familiar playbook to select Bryant among the growing circle of style-centric athletes. In December 2014, it named Curry as its face for spring 2015.
By June 2015, the 6 foot 3 inch guard led the Warriors to overcome 40 years of disappointment to become NBA champions.
While Bryant said he was “so happy” about the win, he lost in the contest of effusiveness to teammate Ben Zobrist, the Most Valuable Player of this year’s series and a winner last year with the Kansas City Royals. At the end of the final game, Zobrist skipped across the field with his arms circling above his head like a cheerful toddler on a playground. It could be a matter of days before he scores a home run as a celebrity spokesman.