HOUSTON (AP) — Felix Hernandez has more than 1,000 pairs of shoes, three different tailors to construct his made-to-order suits and fancies designer T-shirts that cost up to $500 apiece.
His haute collection is so large that it cannot be held in the multiple closets of his homes in Seattle and his native Venezuela. And he loves every single item.
"I will tell you this, the one in my room is big but my wife had to make like a different closet down in the garage to fit my clothes," the Mariners' ace said, shaking his head. "We made a couple of closets in the garage. I've got too much stuff."
Hernandez has painstakingly cultivated an eye-catching style over 11 major league seasons. He isn't afraid of bright, bold colors, prefers body-conscious cuts and loves everything about European designs. He describes his style simply as different. An exercise in flashy elegance might be a better way to term it, featuring closets overflowing with suits that cost thousands of dollars, shoes in all shades of the rainbow and lots and lots of skinny designer jeans.
"Fashion means a lot to me," he said. "I'm a guy that's always trying to look good and trying to impress."
Hernandez made his major league debut in 2005 at just 19. When he began receiving major league paychecks, there was no question what his first major style purchase would be.
"For a man, if you go in a meeting or if you go somewhere and meet people the impact is a watch," he said. "So I was like: 'I need a nice watch.' That's the first thing I bought."
That watch was a Hublot and he now has a collection of about 30 timepieces. And the options to accessorize are vast.
For an interview on his style, the 29-year-old Hernandez toyed with three different shirt-and-shoe combos before landing on a casually chic ensemble. The 2010 American League Cy Young winner wore black Yves Saint Laurent skinny jeans and a T-shirt with a black and white crocodile print by the same designer. There was no crown for King Felix, only a black New Era baseball cap with a gold winking smiley face.
It was a show-stopping outfit to be sure, but the jewelry he paired with it took his style quotient to another level.
A five carat diamond solitaire adorned each ear. One of his four Rolexes, this one with a diamond bezel and $50,000 price tag, was on his left wrist and a custom-made bracelet lay across his right arm. But the star of the jewelry show was a thick rose gold-and-diamond chain with a medallion depicting Jesus, his piercing eyes formed by two flawless diamonds. It has a price tag of $35,000, and Hernandez liked that deal because it came with a pair of matching earrings.
He pulled off the trend of high-low fashion perfectly, pairing the pricey ensemble with affordable Timberland boots, left lazily untied.
"I always paid attention to how I dressed," he said. "I always tried to look good. But I was not thinking about it the way I am right now."
Hernandez had a comfortable upbringing in Venezuela, but certainly wasn't rich. He developed his smart style by poring over magazines, scrolling through Instagram and, of course, getting tips from his wife Sandra. The two, who have been together since age 14, often post shots of themselves on Instagram and Twitter and sometimes include their equally well-dressed children.
A portrait of the clan taken at the All-Star game showed 10-year-old Mia in a pale yellow sundress and Jeremy, 6, in a white blazer and shorts that matched his sister's frock. Hernandez likes to dress his son in miniature versions of his own outfits and his Instagram account is dotted with pictures of the two in matching ensembles.
Hernandez's style certainly befits his royal nickname and is more than appropriate for a man who signed a $175 million contract extension in 2013. It's a style that would fit better on the catwalks of Paris or Milan than in a major league clubhouse. But he has like-minded teammates in Seattle in Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, who also delight in pushing the fashion envelope.
Hernandez isn't a small guy by any means, standing a solid 6-foot-3 and weighing 225 pounds. Not exactly the ideal frame for the skinny cuts he adores. But he pulls it off flawlessly with clothes in super luxe fabrics that are tailored to hug his frame.
Hernandez has an endorsement deal with Nike, so naturally he has plenty of tennis shoes, but the All-Stars of his shoe closet are a couple of pairs of colorful $1,700 Christian Louboutin boots and several other pairs of the red-soled stunners bedecked with hundreds of colorful spikes that set him back about $1,495 each.
Two of his tailors are in Los Angeles and a third is in Chicago and he visits each of them several times a year. Among his favorite suits are a yellow one, one in green and another in eye-catching purple and black camouflage. In Chicago his pieces are made by The Trunk Club whose custom suits start at $850. But he's certainly not getting the base models.
"My suits are really extravagant, probably the nicest things in my closet," he said.
When he's not in those, he dresses almost exclusively in European designers and is partial to Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Gucci and even jetted to Europe one offseason to load up on their wares. He has an affinity with designer backpacks, but when Hernandez dresses up, he carries what he calls a handbag, but what some would refer to as a man-purse or satchel.
Another bold choice for someone who makes a living in the ultra-masculine sports world.
Hernandez isn't sure if the confidence he's built through success on the mound has contributed to his penchant for bold fashion decisions.
"That's a good question," he said. "I think I'm different when I'm off the field. Because out there I'm mean against the other guys, but like off the field I'm a cool guy."
After a pause, he continued.
"Like this," he said making a sweeping motion with his arm across his clothing. "This is the real Felix. Out there ... it's just like: 'I'm going to do my job.'"