Scrumptious new look given a try
Rugby's Tommy Bowe tackles the thighs and lows of dressing smart over casual, finds Joanna Kiernan
'I'm not really very big into fashion to be honest. Obviously, being a rugby player, I spend a lot of time in tracksuits and shorts -- I spend pretty much three-quarters of my life in that -- so it's nice when I get home from training to be able to fire on something."
Tommy Bowe, reluctant fashionista and all-round heartthrob (in my eyes, at least) is sitting across from me on the presidential suite bed at the Westin, which is covered with clothes.
The Tommy Bowe Footwear Collection for Monaghan-based footwear brand Lloyd & Pryce, has, I'm told, introduced him to the world of fashion. "It's kind of opened my eyes to the fashion side of things a bit more," he says. "I've started thinking about it a bit more. Hopefully, I'm going to be with them for the next three years, so there'll be plenty more shoes to come. I have a few ideas that I'll be able to bring forward to the guys -- they're quite open to the different ideas I have."
Tommy has used his Irish teammates as guinea pigs for his ideas, even giving them shoes from his collection and noting the choices each made. "I've chatted to quite a few of the rugby boys and I think boys take a lot of pride in what they wear. They might try to make it look effortless," he adds, smiling, "but I'm sure a bit of thought goes into it."
Tommy doesn't get to wear suits very often, but knows what he likes nonetheless. "I have a few suits by Eden Park," he says. "They're a nice cut, two button, tailored, not that I really know."
He giggles, before adding enthusiastically: "I wanted to go for the nice pocket-chief, you know? With the hanky in the pocket, but I haven't really had the chance just yet."
Rugby may be a very macho sport, but Tommy is not completely averse to stepping outside the box. "Sometimes I mix it up a bit," he says. "I do like every now and then to wear something a little bit against the norm, but in general I go for something comfortable, that looks OK." He grins. "I can never see myself as a fashion icon."
Tommy looks pensive for a split second before announcing with amusement: "I mean, I have a pair of skinny jeans, but pulling them up over my thighs is a bit tight. So, they've never actually seen the light of day."
He is not alone -- Irish men are renowned in the fashion industry for their big thighs, on account of popular sports such as rugby, soccer and Gaelic football. This anomaly often veers them toward more boot-cut, baggy jeans and chinos.
Tommy and teammate Tomas O'Leary both bought their skinnies on the same day, in what sounds like a "power-in-numbers" move.
"We both went out shopping for a laugh one day and he got a pair of white skinny jeans and I got a pair of navy ones," he says. "We thought, 'We'll bring them out at the weekend.' But, unfortunately, we lost, so I think the moment was gone."
The rugby star's old reliables are his Evisu jeans. "They're pretty much my day- to-day get up," he says. "They're the one thing that I get the most use out of."
Tommy's laid-back manner shines through in his style. "I've got quite an easy-going nature rather than sharp suits or jackets," he concludes.
"I just find it easy to go out quite relaxed. My favourite night out is just going to a pub with a few friends and chilling out, so what I wear is very relaxed clothing."
And with those parting words, Tommy Bowe and his muscular thighs walk right back out of my life.
The Lloyd & Pryce Tommy Bowe Collection is now available in stores nationwide. See www.lloydandpryce.com
Photography: Gerry Mooney
Shot at the Westin Hotel, www.thewestindublin.com
Name: Tommy Bowe
Occupation: Irish international rugby player and winger for Ospreys
Marital status: Single
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