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Former Penn State Football Running Back Striving To Reach ‘Peak Of Fashion’ As NFL Stylist

Former Penn State football running back Joshua McPhearson has advanced his career as a visual engineer by becoming the fashion stylist for NFL stars, including Philadelphia Eagles running back Saquon Barkley and San Fransisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey.

Since the launch of his styling agency “PEAEK,” McPhearson’s roster of NFL players has grown significantly along with opportunities to create diverse fashion statements and styles for national events like the Super Bowl.

Walking on as a running back, McPhearson had the opportunity to be a part of the 2016 Big Ten Championship football team. With Penn State legends like Barkley, Chris Godwin, and Trace McSorley in the mix, McPhearson knew the team would leave a mark on Penn State and college football history.

Courtesy of Joshua McPhearson

“We made a lot of history. Made a lot of memories,” McPhearson said. “I didn’t really see the field much, but I was just happy to be a part of that team that made something happen and shift the whole atmosphere for Penn State.”

Coming from a family full of college athletes, McPhearson was born and raised in the football atmosphere. His oldest brother Gerrick played football at Maryland and was selected by the New York Giants in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft. His second oldest brother Derrick played football at Illinois, and his third oldest brother Emmanuel played football at New Mexico.

“Football is my sphere of influence,” McPhearson said. “Just even being in a locker room at Penn State, I was always someone who cared, influencing the way of bringing guys up, being someone who encouraged them. I believe in order to be an encourager and influence, you got to do some things on your own while also knowing that you’re a leader.”

Growing up, he developed a huge passion for not only football but the fashion industry. From reading stories about different fashion designers and companies to styling his own outfits in a way that showcased his personality, McPhearson’s fascination grew more and more.

“I’ve always loved fashion,” McPhearson said. “I loved clothes, I loved design… I always thought that the way you dress and the way you look are kind of stories you can tell about yourself.”

Although he studied telecommunications, McPhearson got a corporate job as a supply chain and procurement specialist shortly after graduation. He later decided to take his career in a different direction and become a personal stylist, or “visual engineer,” as he calls it. His first client was none other than his former teammate and good friend Barkley.

“Me and Saquon are really good friends,” McPhearson shared. “He’s like a brother to me… It was one day he needed some help with a commercial he was doing. I was able to suit him and dress him for that, and from there, it jumped off for me as my role in the style industry… I got the opportunity to use my gift and work a gift that I have in terms of my vision.”

Since then, McPhearson has been styling Barkley’s gameday tunnel entrances, commercial campaigns, fashion shows, and various public appearances for three years. Around this time, he began the process of creating his styling agency “PEAEK.”

Courtesy of Joshua McPhearson

“The whole model of my agency is to reach a peak of fashion or get close to it,” McPhearson said. “And also having people peek at what you wear and admire your style, your sense of personality, and just who you are as a person.”

Having grown up with a defined widow’s peak, McPhearson knew he was different from his peers, however, he used that to make himself stick out. In fact, his agency is named after his own peak, which connects to his motto and overall brand mission.

“When people see my widow’s peak, they peek at it,” McPhearson said. “It also looks like a mountain, like a peak. That’s really the inspiration behind it… Something that was abnormal to me and making it normal now in a way.”

In terms of McPhearson’s initial design and styling process for his clientele, he takes a look around and lets the ideas speak to him. Not only does he use different outfits as inspiration, but he also looks at furniture and other everyday items for color concepts.

“I just look around and see what inspires me first,” McPhearson said. “I’m very free-spirited with that. If I see something online or if I go on social media and I see something that is inspiring — a color… it can be anything. I don’t get inspired by clothes when it comes to a look — more so everything that’s around me… It’s all about making my clients feel good.”

Other notable NFL athletes McPhearson works with are his brother, former Penn State football, and current Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Zech McPhearson, New Orleans Saints tight end and Nittany Lion teammate Juwan Johnson, New York Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito, and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay.

His mission is to ensure his clients are looking and feeling their absolute best at all times. From the moment his clients wake up to the second they step onto the field, court, film set, or red carpet, McPhearson believes clothing plays a pivotal role in influencing their outlook and confidence.

“I’m all about comfortability and making them feel comfortable,” McPhearson said. “My goal is for them wanting to wear it and also loving what they wear, not just liking it.”

More recently, he styled McCaffrey for Super Bowl LVIII, whom he started working with shortly after signing with Barkley. The pair have been working together collaboratively to enhance McCaffrey’s look and preparation for gamedays and press.

“One day I saw Christian follow me, then I messaged him seeing if he needed a stylist,” McPhearson said. “I went out to San Francisco to do my pre-measurements with him for some of his games, and it’s only been up from there… His look for the Super Bowl was one that really took the internet by storm. It made a lot of noise, and that kind of wasn’t really what I was shooting for, but sometimes it just happens like that.”

McPhearson uses his social media platforms to promote his clients and the outfits he puts together and to give aspiring fashion stylists inspiration and support.

“I think social media is like your resume,” McPhearson said. “It means more than what it meant six years ago. People can click on my page and see the work that we’ve done, and I think it is very helpful to people who do what I do because it can bring attraction in terms of brands and clientele.”

With roughly three years of experience under his belt thus far, McPhearson continues to find new ways to style and show off his clients to the public eye in unique ways.

“It’s just something that I love to do,” he said. “I love being a fashion stylist. I love bringing ideas to life. I love figuring out the style for the person I’m working with and joining hands to bring that vision to life.”

Later down the line, McPhearson aims to expand his visual engineering beyond the sports industry and start delving into the entertainment industry.

“Eventually, I want to kind of evolve into actors, actresses, and in women’s wear as well,” McPhearson said.

Now that Barkley has joined Joshua’s brother on the Philadelphia Eagles, McPhearson is looking forward to collaborating with the pair more and seeing the work the teammates accomplish together on and off the field.

“It’ll be good to see Saquon out there with him in a different jersey,” McPhearson said. “It’s going to be fun to watch. I’m glad to see him happy. Glad to see him healthy and watch them play together. It should bring nothing but great joy to me and my family and from his family… In terms of styles and looks for those guys, inspiration comes and goes. It comes in different ways, so I’m excited to see what they have in store and what I have in store for them this year.”

Looking ahead, McPhearson is working on securing McCaffery and Barkley an invitation to the Met Gala, which Barkley last attended when he played for the blue and white.

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a junior broadcast journalism major from Newark, DE, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy. You can direct all your tips, roasts, and jokes to his Instagram: @evan.halfen or email: [email protected]

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