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New Red Stars home jersey a hit due to Chicago-centric details

The jersey features the CTA El train routes within the outline of the city of Chicago. It is both the best- and fastest-selling jersey in team history.

Sam Kerr celebrates during the Chicago Red Stars home opener on Saturday, April 20, 2019 against the Portland Thorns. Kerr and the Red Stars showed off their new home kits in a match for the first time. (ISI Photos: Dan Bartel)

CHICAGO — It didn’t take long for the Chicago Red Stars’ new home jersey to be a hit.

The team unveiled the jersey, dubbed the Elevated kit, April 14 and nearly half the initial inventory sold out that same night. The next day, the team announced the jerseys were all gone. Any additional orders would require a four- to six-week wait.

The jersey features the CTA El train routes within the outline of the city of Chicago. Details of the lakeshore, including Navy Pier and some of the various beaches and docks, are noticeable on the design. An outline of the city skyline is on the back of the jersey. The team’s iconic red stars, a feature in the city’s flag, are also on the front.

The team isn’t releasing numbers on total sales, but  A handful of adult sizes in the team’s second order (still available for pre-order) have also sold out, according to a team spokesperson who added the response surpassed any internal expectations.

They’re not just a hit with the fans. After the team played to a wild 4-4 draw against Portland in the home opener April 20, the debut for the jerseys in game action, players raved about them.

“I wish there was more red, but I love it,” forward Sam Kerr said with a laugh. “I think it represents Chicago well and all the girls love it, so that’s the main thing.”

Defender Casey Short is from suburban Naperville, Ill., and was involved in the team’s promotional video for the jersey. The team has had some creative kits in the past, but she says this one is her favorite due to the obvious connections to Chicago.

“I love all the old ones, but this is my favorite,” Short said. “All the little details on here are pretty cool and they definitely resonate, being from Chicago.”

As Short answered questions about the jersey, she gave a shoutout to Anthony Guagliardo, who was nearby and led the design effort on the jerseys as the team’s creative manager. Guagliardo’s background is in graphic design, but he joked that his experience creating jerseys was limited to choosing the font on the back of shirts for his club volleyball team at the University of Minnesota.

He said work on the 2019 home jersey began about a year ago. In the early stages, he looked at other soccer jerseys, keeping an eye on last summer’s men’s World Cup, to find things he liked. Ultimately, he made around 50 designs before the team settled on the final product.

“It was just a ton,” Guagliardo said. “There was a lot of back and forth. I would make 20 and print them out and we’d all look. We’d all narrow it down to five, and I would make like five for edits or whatever. After all that, we came down to like two of them and neither one ended up happening, so I had to start from scratch.”

After all that, and the defeat of having none of 50 designs get selected, Guagliardo landed on featuring the El train route map. The design isn’t necessarily obvious to those unfamiliar with Chicago, but the train’s famous loop in downtown stands out near the middle of the jersey and all the various train lines can be traced out from there.

“After being kind of disappointed that the other jerseys didn’t get selected, I said why not go kind of wild here with something totally different that I think people would love,” Guagliardo said.

Based on the sales and player reception, the idea landed. Now he and the team are starting to think about next year’s jersey. Perhaps even one of the ideas that got cut last year can be iterated upon into something that sticks.

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