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Zech McPhearson: Winning with style points

Zech McPhearson
Zech McPhearson

On Friday morning, 36 hours before kickoff at Lincoln Financial Field, fashion stylist Josh McPhearson was busy. 

He pushed the speed limit to resolve a "garment emergency," making a last-minute clothing alteration before whipping into New York City to retrieve another item. 

"Busy is good," he reminded himself, navigating traffic as he crossed over from New Jersey. 

His youngest brother, Eagles cornerback Zech McPhearson, agrees. 

For both, their schedules have only ramped up during the playoffs. But Josh's preparations for Saturday's win-or-go-home Eagles vs. Giants game didn't include any team meetings, film study, or gameplanning. 

Instead, he spent weeks artfully crafting ensembles for his brother and his college teammate-turned-client, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, to wear when they arrived at the stadium with their respective teams.

Check out the Eagles as they arrive to Lincoln Financial Field in advance of the NFC Divisional Round showdown against the Giants.

Josh spent the last year and a half working as Barkley's personal stylist, but for the Divisional Round, he styled Zech, too – hoping to give his brother a boost ahead of the highest-stakes game yet this season.

"I believe it gives you a different morale. It's like going to work, going to do business with a nice suit on. You feel good about yourself going into the game; it just helps with the energy," Zech said.

With their individual consultation, Josh engineered outfits for each, using his iPad to pair intentional combinations of tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, and outerwear that he believed would ensure the utmost confidence for both.

"I think all these guys are very, very God-gifted. They have great talents on the field – it's the reason why they're professional athletes and where they are now," Josh said,

"It's cliche to say, 'look good, play good,' but there's just something about your confidence when you wake up and you know you feel comfortable and you look nice."

The Eagles took care of their business, defeating the Giants 38-7 to advance to the NFC Championship.

Saturday's win marked a unique intersection of Josh and Zech's budding careers in the professional sports scene; one in fashion, and one on the field – both equally promising.

Josh is in the midst of his first season styling some of the most well-known names in football like Barkley, and Zech's upcoming opponent, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey.

As for Zech, he's a leader on the special teams unit, on the cusp of his first-ever NFC Championship in only his second year in the league.

Together, they have propelled the McPhearson family name to new heights across the NFL.

Zech McPhearson on his way to help the Eagles advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Zech McPhearson on his way to help the Eagles advance to the NFC Championship Game.

How it started

Josh first met Saquon Barkley in the running backs room at Penn State University – their friendship flourished while playing together from 2015-18. Zech was on the roster at State College for a season, too, before transferring to Texas Tech.

When they parted ways, Barkley was drafted second overall by the Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Josh's aspirations weren't confined to football. After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, he shifted his focus toward a long-brewing penchant for fashion, determined to make styling his full-time job.

"Football – we've been doing this our whole lives, over 15 years, so when you reach a sort of crossroads, you've got to probably move on from football and pick up a new hobby," Zech said.

"People were around like myself, my parents, and his close friends saying, 'Hey, you've really got an eye for this and you should get into it.' He tapped into it, fell in love with it, and found another part of him that he didn't really know he had."

Though his playing days were behind him, Josh didn't stray far from the game. He'd remained close with Barkley, and after an honest conversation, the pair elevated their friendship to a business relationship. Josh has selected each piece the two-time Pro Bowl selection has worn for games, advertisements, and other engagements since.

"I always had a desire for fashion. I've always loved clothes, always loved the idea of being an engineer and creating things, especially things that express you in your truest way. I think fashion, in a sense, is one of the easiest ways for me to express that," Josh said.

Zech recalled moments from their childhood in Maryland, when he'd often notice Josh altering casual clothes, like sweatshirts, sweatpants, and jeans, to enhance his personal style.

In as early as eighth grade, Josh frequented the hardware store in search of different shredders and scissors to use on clothing creations.

Now, instead of clothes from around the house, Josh works with designer brands like Prada, Bottega Veneta, and Hermes – to name a few, guiding NFL players toward self-expression through their appearance.

The process

So, what goes into a gameday outfit?

For some, team-issued gear does the trick. For others, like Zech, weeks of collaboration went into his final look.

"My brother, Zechariah, he's just more of a relaxed guy. He can find his way around different styles of sweatpants that look super nice and very put together. He's more comfortable, relaxed, chill per se – that's just his aesthetic," Josh said.

One of his favorite parts about working with Zech is his directness.

"Picky is a good thing! I love honesty and honesty is my best friend, because if you don't like it, I don't really like it. If you don't feel comfortable, I don't feel comfortable. I would say Z-Mac ... he can be more honest, because I'm on a different level – he's my brother!"

As for Zech, he enjoys working with Josh because, by now, he knows his style.

"He already knows my tastes you know, he's my brother. He knows that I like nice stuff, but not too over the top. If I want to be real subtle, he can put some nice stuff together with that,"

It all came to fruition on Saturday. Zech strolled in, head held high, sporting a layered Rhude graphic-tee, Thom Browne track pants, and Jordans. The look, fittingly titled, "THE LINEAGE," was complemented with a casual Carhartt beanie and Louis Vuitton accessories.

Zech (4)

On a scale of Barkley, whose style Josh describes as universal and bold, to McCaffrey, who leans more toward simple and chic styles, Zech falls somewhere in the middle. Josh's agency, PEÆK, boasts an inventory that caters to their varied preferences.

PEÆK has interchangeable spelling, and its meaning aligns with his purpose of helping athletes look, feel, and in turn, play their best.

"P-e-a-k means I want those who I'm styling to reach their peak in their respective careers and life with goals; I want it to be just deeper into fashion," Josh said.

"P-e-e-k means that I want my clients to gain notice from what they're wearing, for people to peek at them when they wear their clothing. I think that it brings confidence, knowing that you look good, but that other people notice that as well."'

What's next?

Even when they aren't working toward a gameday fit, Zech still seeks his brother's style expertise.

The two often FaceTime, talking football, family, and goals while Zech poses in front of his propped-up iPhone and Josh perfects his outfits.

It's been a record year already for the McPhearson clan – which boasts eight athletic siblings: Gerrick Jr., Derrick, Emmanuel, Jeremiah, Matthew, Josh, Zech, and Kimberly. And the best is yet to come.

Josh expressed his interest in expanding his influence past the NFL, eyeing opportunities to work with individuals across other sports and the broader entertainment scope.

As for Zech, he's had a fruitful second season, earning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after a standout performance in the team's season opener – he totaled a career-high-tying 2 special teams tackles and recovered a surprise onside kick in the third quarter that set up a scoring drive in the 38-35 victory in Detroit. He recorded his first career sack in the 22-16 win over the Giants in Week 18, and recorded a momentous tackle on a punt return in Saturday's playoff game.

He and his team are less than a week out from a monumental Eagles vs. 49ers matchup to decide which team will represent the NFC in Super Bowl LVII.

Ambition is ever-present for the McPhearsons – their father, Gerrick, and mother, Kim, raised them on a lesson they hold close in all of their ventures.

"My dad always tells me, he tells all my (siblings), including Zechariah, that our best days in life are ahead of us," Josh said. "So that's my perspective. My best days in life are ahead."

And he knows Zech's are, too.

"He went through so much to get to where he is, from being at Penn State, to not playing, to transferring into Texas Tech, and becoming an All-American. Just enduring all of those phases when he was just going through a lot, to make it to where he is, to overcome all those trials and obstacles," Josh said.

"My family is extremely proud of him. He's representing our family and our last name in a great light."


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