A soft push sweeps open the double doors, all that can be heard is the heavy weight of his Oxford shoes clicking against the marble. There’s a low illumination that streams with each stride towards his destination. There, the finishing touch lies, alone, on the broad table it sits upon. Grasping the mahogany case with both hands, smooth jazz escalates with the lift of the lid. He meticulously picks up a pair of razor sharp tongs, surveying the selection of the day, an amber toothpick is selected, the final touch that is the feature of the fit. “Once i put that in, I can’t be touched. It’s my Mojo. It brings this whole level of swag.”
For retired NFL player Brandon Coleman, the toothpick — his unique accessory — is not only what defines his fashion game, but his overall brand. Before there were prime time football games, before there was designer dripping gameday fits and long before he walked in New York Fashion Week, there was the practical accessory of the toothpick. It was freshman year at the dining hall at Rutgers University and the abundance of free, mint flavored toothpicks, the innocent concept that he’d continuously have fresh breath and clean teeth in college, led to his defining touch. “It’s to the point of where I’ve trained myself to do everything with the toothpick in my mouth. I can workout, I can talk with one in my mouth and have people not know that I have one in my mouth.” (Yes, he had a toothpick for this interview too). The toothpick quickly turned into something that’s not only synonymous with his brand, but was an early indication of his love for the little details in the fashion world.
Signing with the New Orleans Saints in 2014, Brandon described football as his ‘comfort zone.’ Unfortunately, Coleman battled injuries throughout his career in the league, making the decision in 2019 to officially retire and move onto what he
calls his ‘second act.’ But, before the decision to walk away from the game was made, there were glimpses of what was to occur down the road within his time in the league. The first was his implementation of meditation in his life. While it was at first an admittedly staggering effort when he began two years ago, by the time I spoke with Brandon, he had completed 85 days straight of practicing meditation. “Each 10 day increment, I noticed a huge transformation in my growth and development, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and even communicating more effectively, because I have this level of clarity and belief that I’ve tapped into my inner self, you know.” That clarity he tapped into is something he leans on in his newfound career in modeling.
“It’s so quiet, and then as you turn, all you hear is the sound of cameras clicking a thousand miles a second and I was just like ‘WHOA.’ In football you’re focused on the play at hand and not the fans in the stands, but on a runway, it’s a different mindset. As I make the turn it’s literally a realization of ‘Yo, I don’t have my helmet on.’” Since retirement, Brandon has thrown himself into the fashion world, locking in a spot on the runway of the coveted New York Fashion Week. He walked in designer Romeo Hunte’s show, which was a partnership with Tommy Hilfiger, and was a reinterpretation of 90’s pop culture. The brand’s goal was to “up-cycle” into new luxury by “integrating some of his key archival pieces into our brand’s DNA cut-and-sew method. The creative team at Romeo Hunte told us, “Brandon has a selfless style of play on and off the field. A faithful client and advocate for change and inclusivity within our black communities, sports, and fashion. It was a great pleasure having him walk the Romeo Hunte FW20 fashion show with the utmost admirable confidence and swag.”
Transitioning into modeling has pushed his awareness level, igniting his competitive spirit to tackle this new world he’s found himself in. Football for Coleman had become second nature, now he finds himself peeling back the layer of new possibilities and utilizing techniques he formed while playing football.
“[Through meditation] I have a better sense of clarity for my perspective and my eye with fashion. It allows me to see patterns, shapes or outfits in a different light. It’s allowed me to see the little details that make all the difference.” A self described “introvert,” fashion, without the protection of his helmet aka his comfort zone broadened the horizons for Brandon. “I can’t stay in this lane forever. There’s a whole world out there, for me to tap into possibilities.”
The second notion of ‘things happen for a reason’ that has been revealed in his life, was Coleman’s approach to the physical injuries he endured in the league. The deep desire to avoid the road of prescription painkillers to aid in his recoveries, Coleman began researching natural CBD remedies. It was then that he had what he calls a “law of attraction moment.” True to the notion that, “you’re not going to catch me in public without a toothpick,” he stumbled upon a company that creates CBD infused toothpicks. Partnering the one part of his fashion that directly correlates to his personality in a business endeavor was an easy match. For Brandon, it’s all about the finishing touches, which is his selection of toothpicks, this partnership is some sort of a reflection on the story of Coleman’s life that brought him to this point. “I have an opportunity to present something to people that they didn’t know they were missing in their life.” ‘Can Be Done’ is the title of his CBD infused toothpick partnership and he loves that its benefits compliment his style. “It’s so discreet. You’d never guess that a person over there has a toothpick with 25MG of CBD in it.”
Throughout our conversation, I was consistently more intrigued with this staple of really, his personality. There’s truly a shift of energy when he talks about toothpicks, an sincere innocence of how much he is really connected to these details. “I grew up with this classic man notion, my father taught me how to tie a tie and I love wearing suits, so that’s always been my foundation, the toothpick compliments the whole fit, it’s the icing on the cake.” For Brandon, the best part of his style will always be the finishing touch.