With 82 receptions, 1,536 yards, nine touchdowns and a Super Bowl berth, it has been a year to remember for Victor Cruz, the football player.
It has also been a year to remember for Victor Cruz, the clothes designer.
In the summer of 2010, Cruz and fellow Giants rookie Nate Collins (now with the Jaguars) bonded over their passion for fashion. They did some research, and by April they had started a company with initial investments of $5,000 each. By September, the duo designed their first line of clothes and were ready to sell online.
"I love it," Cruz says. "I've always wanted to be involved in fashion and have my own clothing line and do some things like that. And now that I'm able to have one, it's amazing."
The line's name, Young Whales, plays on the term "whale" being a high-stakes casino gambler. NFL fans might see some familiar faces on the company's website. Starting on a low budget, Cruz and fellow Giants wide receiver Ramses Barden were two of the original models.
"I tried to help him out when he was first getting started," Barden says with a chuckle. "Vic's such a good guy. He's one of those people that you want to lend a hand to, and we were proud of him for putting himself out there and taking on that venture. He's done a great job with it and people have responded well to his clothes."
Fans and players alike are embracing Cruz's clothes. Young Whales' fall line, which included a Christmas order, sold so well that a spring line is in the works.
"The fans love it, man, as well as my teammates,” Cruz says. "Any time I bring in a box for them, they just crowd me and they want stuff. I just hand the stuff out like it's Christmas morning. It's just great, man."
Barden and Aaron Ross are among the teammates that vouch for the popularity of Cruz's line. "Of course, I tell him to bring it into the locker room all the time," Ross says.
"People wear it all throughout the locker room," Barden says. "People are bugging Vic daily to get their hands on sweatshirts and stuff."
When starting out, Cruz and Collins agreed that designer T-shirts were too expensive and worked their way to baseball-style shirts, crew neck sweatshirts and hoodies.
Picking their favorite Young Whales item was a no-brainer for Ross and Barden.
"I got to go with the hoodie, any type of hoodie," Ross says. "I'm a hoodies guy, so when he has hoodies, I try to get them all."
Barden also says there is one design that is a personal favorite. "He's got some sweatshirts I like, but I really like the 'EARLY.' one," he said. "You know, it can stand for so many things."
Barden is referring to a Young Whales' design, which says "EARLY." The company also has apparel with the terms "Flashy" and "Young Whales" on them, among other designs.
One Giant had to wait longer than his teammates to get his desired Young Whales gear. Chris Canty, at 6-7 and 317 pounds, encountered a size issue.
"I tell Vic all the time, you gotta take care of the big guys," Canty says. "He actually got some of his Young Whales apparel in my size and gave it to me."
Cruz delivered on the big-and-tall order, which was good for business and personal health.
"We recently got some big sizes cause Chris Canty was just hounding me for weeks upon weeks about stuff," Cruz says. "I didn't want him to beat me up or anything, so I got him some stuff."
Canty is appreciative of his teammate and satisfied with the order.
"It actually fits pretty good," he says. "It's really stylish. They're trendy. I said you gotta have the big guys making fashion statements."
With sales rising, the future looks bright for Victor Cruz, the salesman. Victor Cruz, the businessman, could soon cut a deal with Victor Cruz, the wide receiver, in the end zone.
"I do not have a salsa outfit just yet, but something may be in the works," Cruz says, referring to his signature celebration dance. "You never know."
Kind of like how a one-star recruit from a Division I-AA school can become an NFL superstar. You never know.
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