Emily Oberg of Sporty & Rich Draws the Line at Pickleball

Emily Oberg

Photo courtesy of Nimrod Kamer.

Emily Oberg is the real Emily in Paris. When we linked up earlier this month at Château Voltaire, she was busy manning the French office of her brand Sporty & Rich, of which her ex-boyfriend David Obadia amicably remains CEO, while a new Swiss boyfriend waited back at the hotel. She is, in fact, the longest-staying guest at the hotel on Rue Saint-Roch, and recently asked (and received) an extended stay discount. Oberg never drinks alcohol, visits Roland Garros every year, and posts her fitness routines at various gyms around Paris. Up until 2016, she was just a reporter for Complex, covering Steve Aoki’s sobriety and reviewing Pokémon GO.

Oberg started Sporty & Rich as an Instagram moodboard; it then became a magazine that scaled into an apparel outlet with a SoHo store and spa on the ashes of Opening Ceremony. She has big plans for S&R going forward: a London store, opening this year, and a members-only club in L.A. to up the “rich” quotient. As we spoke, the jewelry designer Phoebe Harkness spotted us in the lobby and pitched Oberg on the spot.

To secure this coveted interview and get Oberg to follow me in the first place, I had to orchestrate a shoot and post a picture wearing a Sporty & Rich Eden-Roc jumper next to San Vicente Bungalows maître d’ Dimitri Dimitrov. We chatted about editing her Wikipedia page, Wimbledon merch, and just who constitutes the Sporty & Rich customer.


NIMROD KAMER: Fun seeing you in Paris. We’re in Château… What’s it called?

EMILY OBERG: Voltaire.

KAMER: Château Voltaire. I thought it was in Voltaire, but Voltaire is a different neighborhood. You’re staying here just because Chris Black stayed here?

OBERG: No! I think I stayed here before all of those people stayed here…

KAMER: Really? Because it’s not even connected to the Château Marmont.

OBERG: It’s Zadig & Voltaire.

KAMER: It’s funny you have an office in Paris, but there’s no Sporty & Rich store in Paris.

OBERG: The French consumer is not really our consumer.

KAMER: Because they don’t do sports so much?

OBERG: No, they do. I think they’re just more conservative and maybe anti-money and richness. It’s kind of a thing in France to be like that.

KAMER: But you do have two French hotel collabs, Le Bristol and Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Can I buy Sporty & Rich there?

OBERG: Yeah. When we launch, they sell it in their shops.

KAMER: I’m obsessed with du Cap-Eden-Roc because beach resorts with sand are so over. It’s all about rocks and a ladder to the sea, from the rock. No sand. 

OBERG: I love sandy beaches. I don’t love a rocky beach. But that hotel is amazing and iconic. I used to live in Hawaii, actually, because my mom lives there. I could actually do the beach life forever.

KAMER: Yeah. Well, we need a Sports & Rich in London because the smoothies and produce in the UK are so bad.

OBERG: Are they?

KAMER: I went to L.A. just to buy groceries.

OBERG: It’s the best. I really want to do a retail shop, café and maybe a group fitness workout studio, because I’m obviously very into wellness. We’re looking for spaces now.

KAMER: Maybe in East London?

OBERG: Mayfair.

KAMER: Are you sure about Mayfair?

OBERG: Yeah.

KAMER: Maybe Marylebone? Chiltern Firehouse is in Marylebone. It’s next to Mayfair.

OBERG: I’ve only been to London twice, for two days. I don’t actually know it. But our customers like Selfridges, Mayfair. We want to stay around there.

KAMER: Mayfair is more like a Dubai vibe.

OBERG: That’s kind of our vibe.

KAMER: Oh, that’s the vibe?

OBERG: A large portion of our customers are Middle Eastern and we have some retail accounts there.

KAMER: But in Dubai people don’t leave their house. AC only. 

OBERG: I know, so maybe they order it.

KAMER: I love how you’re into fitness, but you also went to Ralph’s in Paris to have an ice cream. And posted it.

OBERG: Balance is very healthy.

KAMER: Would you go full health food brand with S&R?

OBERG: Eventually, my goal is to do luxury country clubs, with restaurants inside. But yeah, I love food. If I wasn’t doing this, I would be a food critic. That’s my dream job.

KAMER: Are you really into tennis, by the way? Because so much of S&R is tennis.

OBERG: Yeah. I’ve been playing for six years and I love it. It’s the only real sport that I play.

KAMER: What about pickleball?

OBERG: No, no. I draw the line at pickleball. It’s not a real sport. 

KAMER: Okay, so come to London in June and we’ll go to Wimbledon.

OBERG: Oh my god, I’m dying to go.

KAMER: Wimbledon is all about the small courts, then you can move around and see all the low-rated matches. Don’t get stuck in center court for four hours, it’s so boring.

OBERG: But I don’t mind that if it’s a good match. Was the merch good at Wimbledon?

KAMER: Yeah. Pretty good hats. They sell balls and skirts.

OBERG: We need to do Wimbledon merch. But that’s probably Ralph Lauren. They’re the main sponsor, right?

KAMER: But they should switch to S&R. Ralph Lauren is so nineties.

OBERG: Is it? I love it…

KAMER: Could I be a Sporty & Rich model?

OBERG: Yeah, let’s do a campaign.

KAMER: Do you have any guys like me modeling?

OBERG: No, we actually don’t do guys in campaigns at all, but we should.

KAMER: Do you even have a Wikipedia page yet?

OBERG: No. Should I?

KAMER: You need to be remembered.

OBERG: Sure. Let’s put some stuff on there. Fake news, or real?

KAMER: 20% has to be false.

OBERG: Oh, does it?

KAMER: So then random people fact-check and it gives them an incentive to change stuff. If everything is true, nobody else would edit.

OBERG: But is it good if other people mess with the page?

KAMER: Yeah, it should be a collaborative effort.

OBERG: Got it.

KAMER: So for the Wiki, do you have any controversy in the brand’s history, or yours?

OBERG: There’s some controversy, but I don’t think it’s as big as people make it out to be.

KAMER: You posted about subletting your place in L.A. and then removed it. I won’t say how much, but people got offended because it was so expensive.

OBERG: I meant to post it to my close friends, only because I would never post that to main. Someone was like, “You posted on your main,” so I deleted it right away. But I’m like, “That’s what my mortgage costs. Why is that offensive?” I’m not sorry for this.

KAMER: Did you get anyone to live in your house eventually?

OBERG: Someone wanted it, but then I didn’t want to rent it out anymore.

KAMER: What else is coming up?

OBERG: More Adidas, another Le Bristol collab. We’re going to do a Yankees collab too, which I’m very excited about.

KAMER: So in Yankees stadium I could just buy Sporty & Rich and chant?

OBERG: No. It’s just going to be in our store. It’s a collab with 47 Brand, you know, the hat brand?

KAMER: Mmm, I have some. I need to get a massage in the New York store. How is the store managed now that you’re in Paris?

OBERG: It’s great. I have a team that does retail.

KAMER: Are you on Zoom with them all the time?

OBERG: Yeah, I speak to them pretty often, but I like to run the business so I’m not needed anywhere. It’s more sustainable.

KAMER: Sorry, back to groceries, what’s your take on the Balenciaga Erewhon collab? I bought their $800 t-shirt. But I’m going to return it. 

OBERG: I would love to do a collab with Erewhon. We tried, but they’re very difficult to work with. They make you pay a crazy amount of money to work with them. It’s very difficult. It’s not for me. It’s very fashion with a capital F.

KAMER: You’re fashion lowercase?

OBERG: I would say I’m not fashion.

KAMER: You’re just casual sport?

OBERG: Yeah. I like that better. For me, fashion always has an expiration date.

KAMER: You don’t do catwalks.

OBERG: I don’t think we’d do a runway show, ever. A runway show for me is all about ego. It costs a crazy amount. The ROI is not great. You get a little bit of press and a Vogue runway review, but I’d rather put that towards something else. I honestly don’t take myself seriously enough to do a runway show.