The Arizona Coyotes are known for their bold fashion statements, from their multicolored Kachina logo to their use of desert sienna as the template for their recent Reverse Retro T-shirt.
Their latest take on daring fashion: the Desert Night special edition jersey designed by Ruigi Villaseñor, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based streetwear brand Rhude.
The team will unveil the jersey to the public on Wednesday and wear it for the first time on Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights at Mallett Arena.
“You know, this concept of combining design and sport is a growing idea?” said Villaseñor, who was hired as Coyotes’ creative strategist and global fashion designer in October.
“It will ignite the fire in the culture. One of the things that brought us together was bringing culture to the sport. We are all in the same ecosystem, not in a separate one. It is important for me to be a team that helps make hockey. thing in street culture.”
The burgundy jersey has the word “Arizona” written in sand-coloured cursive across the chest. Above the “I” on the wordmark is a star, symbolizing both the desert nights when coyotes hunt, and the flag of the state of Arizona. On the bottom of the jersey and on the sleeves there is an engraving in the style of Kachina. Inside the collar are small geckos, an homage to the gecko shoulder patch from the Coyotes’ original green third jersey.
Coyotes will wear sand-colored cactus pants along with burgundy helmets and gloves.
In keeping with tradition, the team captain will wear a crescent-shaped “C” patch, while alternate captains will be identified with an “A” patch with two hugging cacti.
All about the details 😏 pic.twitter.com/02WpEqd6D8
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) January 17, 2023
Some NHL teams have partnered with fashion brands to give their gear a distinct look. Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs partnered with Drew House, Justin Bieber’s design label, to create and wear reversible jerseys.
“We are now seeing an influx of sports into fashion and we really wanted to be at the forefront of that by pushing the boundaries,” said Alex Meruelo Jr., Chief Brand Officer of Coyotes.
This is not the first sporty crossover for Villaseñor, who is also the creative director of the Swiss company Bally. In 2021, Rude had a successful collaboration with F1 and McLaren, he says, that “turns sport and modern luxury into an innovative and progressive collection.”
Villaseñor said he’s seen other brands make hockey jerseys, so it’s time for the NHL to get into jerseys that can reach a wider audience.
The creation of the NHL jersey came with some particular challenges. Functionality isn’t always at the forefront of fashion, but it should be when designing gaming gear.
Villaseñor said they were trying to create a hockey jersey at Rhude, something more like a catwalk. He didn’t realize at first that ventilation was required for a game jersey, nor did he consider the extra space needed for pads.
“I thought I would come in to come up with shapes and create a logo. But it’s very interesting to see the complexity of the jersey and all the things that go beyond what we usually see, which is the silhouette and color,” he said.
“In everything in life, when you have a goal, you work towards that goal, and then you add all the ingredients. In this case, the goal was to create an iconic jersey that feels like part of the Coyotes’ heritage. … The added parts to it are the complexities.”
Another difference between runway and ice design is distance.
“You have to take a step back and understand that when we watch a game, we are not five inches away from the player. These are the small changes we need to make. But at the end of the day, it’s about making a cool t-shirt. It was exciting,” he said.
Villaseñor said consideration and in some ways respect for the Coyotes’ previous appearance was also part of the process.
“When I looked at the legacy of the jersey, I really looked at the cool things that were used. I wanted to use the iconic parts of the jersey,” he said.
His favorite part of the sweater is the desert relief it evokes. “It is the signifier. Make sure it becomes the Arizona Coyotes uniform, but also becomes the state uniform, right?” he said.
This season, the Coyotes will wear the Desert Night jersey 14 times at Mullett Arena. This is their temporary home on the campus of Arizona State University while they wait for voters to greenlight the construction of a new arena in Tempe this spring. Meruelo said the addition of a special sweater to the collection is part of the overall feel of the franchise’s rebirth.
“We’re almost like an expansion team at the moment with everything that’s going on. It’s really great to be able to create what we really see the brand and what we want it to be and interact with all these fans in anticipation,” he said. . “We have made a significant investment in this and we feel it is part of the future. Ideally, we want to create a Coyote universe and serve our fans in every possible way.”
Villaseñor plays a key role in expanding the audience. His family moved from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, to Los Angeles when he was 11 years old. He marinated in and was inspired by the hip-hop culture. He still remembers the days when NHL jerseys were an integral part of streetwear. He believes they can get there again.
“It was there when you look at the 2000s and 1990s, music, movies, ads and all that,” he said. “Hockey is still an integral part of the culture. But sometimes something gives cracks and new things appear. But just like other sports have been resurrected and cool, hockey will enjoy it in an evolutionary way.”