As the WNBA surges in popularity, all eyes are on its players. Stylists share what it's like to dress the league's stars.

Athletes in the WNBA have been making big plays on the court — and off, especially when it comes to fashion. Whether it's Caitlin Clark going all Prada, Angel Reese making her pro announcement in Vogue, or Kelsey Plum and Cameron Brink showing off their pregame looks, players across all teams are making the world their personal runway.

Known as the WNBA tunnel, the walkway that links the arena to the players’ locker rooms has become the site of memorable fashion moments, like Sydney Colson’s Black hair mag look by designer Sheila Rashid or Plum’s sleek season opener courtesy of Alexander Wang.

But behind every well-dressed WNBA athlete is their fashion-forward stylist. Amadi Brooks, Sydney Bordonaro and Mary Gonsalves Kinney are no strangers to crafting those standout tunnel looks.

Brooks, the stylist for Las Vegas Aces point guard Colson and power forward A’ja Wilson, told Yahoo Entertainment that it’s about time people pay as much attention to the WNBA as they do the NBA, from both an athletic and a sartorial standpoint.

“I think the intersectionality of sports and fashion has always been there,” she said. “Now that the [WNBA] has more eyes on it, I do think people are stepping up their game and feeling confident and putting a little bit more effort into it.”

Bordonaro, a former Division I basketball player turned stylist, also spoke about the influence WNBA players have on young female athletes both on and off the court.

“You get these Angel Reeses, Cameron Brinks and Kelsey Plums ... players that people are attached to. And then they follow them on social media, and they’ve been following not only their games, but they’ve been following just them as people,” she told Yahoo. “So when you see players in these pieces, people are like, ‘Oh, you can really put a fly look on these girls.’ Like, these become the idols that people look up to.”

The WNBA tunnel is where the majority of the magic happens. Ahead of every game, each athlete embarks on a 30-second walk through the concrete corridor in an artfully curated look that speaks to their personal style. With the sheer amount of sartorial prowess on display, the tunnel may as well be a runway.

“We’re willing to have more fun,” Brooks said of putting together looks for the tunnel. “We might throw something on that they don’t typically wear. Or we might have pieces that will last for [that] very moment, but I’m not expecting [them] to be in it all day.”

While the stylists take risks when dressing these athletes, they say it’s important that the clothes reflect their personalities.

“I’m styling to who they are,” Bordonaro said. Her client list includes Plum, a Las Vegas Aces point guard, and Los Angeles Sparks small forwards Brink and Rae Burrell. “I’m never trying to put them in things that make them feel uncomfortable ... the emphasis is portraying who they are and what they’re about.”

Kinney, a longtime celebrity stylist who’s been working with Brink the last couple of years, told Yahoo that a player’s tunnel look should also convey what they’re feeling that day.

“I think it’s about the energy they’re ushering into the game that day,” she said. “Depending on who they’re playing, how competitive the team is ... I think it’s a really fun way for [them] to be like, ‘I’m feeling pretty good about myself right now and this is how I look. Take my picture and let’s go,’ you know?”

Of course, a stylist’s approach to dressing a WNBA client isn’t exactly one-size-fits-all. Several factors are at play, like whether the client prefers to be more hands-on in the process or if they’d rather outsource that creative control.

“I have very good relationships with all three of them,” Bordonaro said of Plum, Burrell and Brink. “Especially with Kelsey and Rae, in particular, I was able to really kind of build [their images] over the past few years. It was really cool because they were almost like blank canvases. Kelsey is very focused on basketball ... she could really care less about that kind of stuff. Rae’s into it a little bit more, so is Cam.”

A lot has changed for these stylists in the last two years. While Bordonaro, for instance, previously had to do “nonstop” reach-outs to designers to borrow pieces for her players, the league’s sudden surge in popularity changed everything. Now, her dream designers are reaching out to her.

“You’ve got to get out there, you’ve got to show the clothing well, you’ve got to promote it ... and share it on your social media,” Kinney added. “Once you do that, the brands really start getting into it, you know?”

With a wide selection of designers and luxury houses now at her fingertips, Bordonaro said deciding which athlete wears what boils down to what she describes as “matchmaking.”

“Kelsey, right now, is at the point in her career where she’s on [this] upper echelon type of vibe,” she said. “We’re looking to work with higher-end brands, whereas [with] Rae, I can put her in Los Angeles-based brands that are super fly and sexy. [For] Cam, we’re looking at brands like Alexander Wang and Coach. Those high-fashion brands want to put their pieces on [her].”

Colson and Wilson, on the other hand, are more focused on spotlighting designers of color, according to Brooks.

“They’re both individuals with unique personalities, and they’re not always wanting to go with the flow or with the trends,” she said. “Sydney is very keen about highlighting Black designers, minority-owned brands, women-owned brands. She loves to use her platform to highlight those businesses. Same with A’ja. She loves to support people and feed into the people around her.”

With WNBA players receiving more recognition than ever before, their stylists couldn’t be happier.

“To a degree, we live in a misogynistic world. [People] know who all the male players are, for the most part. But as far as the women, they’re not necessarily educated [about them],” Kinney said. “I think as stylists, we work really hard to make sure people [know] who these women [are].”

Bordonaro added, “It’s unbelievable just to see because I love my girls, and [they’re] getting this opportunity to wear these amazing designers and understand more about the world of fashion.”

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