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Arizona Coyotes wear new “Desert Night” jerseys

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The Arizona Coyotes are known for making bold fashion statements, from their multicolored Kachina logo to using desert sienna as the template for their latest Reverse Retro jersey.

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Their latest foray into gritty couture: a special edition “Desert Night” T-shirt designed by Rhuigi Villaseñor, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based streetwear brand Rhude.

The team will release the jersey to the public on Wednesday and wear it for the first time on Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights at Mullett Arena.

“This design concept meets sport is a growing idea, you know?” said Villaseñor, who was named the Coyotes’ creative strategist and global stylist in October.

“This is going to become an ignition source for the culture. One of the things we’ve bonded over is bringing culture into the sport. We’re all in one ecosystem, not a separate one. For me, it’s about being the team that helps make hockey a thing in street culture.”

The burgundy jersey features “AZ” in sand cursive across the chest. There is a star above the “I” on the text tag, symbolizing both desert nights when coyotes hunt and the Arizona state flag. There is a kachina-style pattern on the bottom of the shirt and the sleeves. Inside the collar is a small gecko, homage to the gecko shoulder patch from the coyotes’ original third green jersey.

The coyotes will wear sand-colored cactus pants, along with burgundy helmets and gloves.

In a twist inspired by tradition, team captains will wear a half-moon “C” patch, while alternate captains will be identified by a patch that creates an “A” with two cacti hugging each other.

Some NHL teams have begun partnering with fashion brands to create a special look for their gear. Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs partnered with Drew House, Justin Bieber’s design label, to create and wear reversible jerseys.

“We’re seeing an influx of sports in fashion right now, and we really wanted to be on the cutting edge of that, push the boundaries,” said Alex Meruelo Jr., Coyotes’ chief brand officer.

This isn’t Villasignor’s first sporty crossover, who’s also creative director for Switzerland-based Bally. He said Rudd had a successful collaboration with F1 and McLaren in 2021 that “reimagines sport and modern luxury into an innovative and progressive package”.

Villaseñor said he’s seen other brands make hockey jerseys, so it’s about time the NHL leaned toward creating jerseys that could pass on to a wider audience.

Creating an NHL jersey presented some unique challenges. Functionality isn’t always at the forefront of fashion, but it should be when designing wearable gear for games.

Villaseñor said they tried to create Rhude’s hockey jersey, which was more of a runway look. At first, he did not realize all of the venting required for a game jersey, and did not consider the extra space required for the pads.

He said, “I thought I was coming to design shapes and create a logo. But it’s really exciting to see the complexity of the shirt and all the things that go beyond what we normally see, which is the silhouette and the colour.”

“With anything in life, when you have a goal, you work with that goal and then you add all the ingredients. In this case, the goal was to create an iconic jersey and one that seems to be part of Wolves’ heritage and the added parts are the intricacies.”

Another difference between runway and ice design: distance.

“You have to take a step back and realize that when we’re watching a game, we’re not five inches away from the player. These are small adjustments we have to make. But in the end, it’s about making a dope shirt. It was exciting.”

Considering, and in some ways honoring, the Coyotes’ previous appearance, Villaseñor said, was also part of the process.

“When I looked at the heritage of the shirts, I really looked at the cool stuff that was used. I wanted to use the iconic parts of the shirt,” he said.

His favorite part of the jacket is the desert terrain it evokes. “It’s the signifier. Making sure that becomes the Arizona coyote uniform, but it also becomes the state uniform, right?” He said.

The Coyotes will wear the Desert Knight jersey 14 times this season at Mullett Arena. It’s their temporary home on the ASU campus as they wait to build a new arena in Tempe to be green-lit by voters this spring. Meruelo said the addition of a special edition jacket to the mix is ​​part of an overall sense of rebirth for the franchise.

He said, “It’s like we’re an expansion team at this point with everything going on. It’s really cool to be able to create what we really see the brand as and what we want it to become and engage with all these waiting fans”. “We’ve made a huge investment in this and feel it’s part of the future. Ideally, we want to create a Coyotes universe and serve our fans in every way we can.”

Villaseñor plays a major role in expanding this audience. His family moved from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, to Los Angeles when he was 11 years old. He evaporated into and was inspired by hip-hop culture. He still remembers when NHL jerseys were a ubiquitous part of streetwear. He thinks they can get there again.

“It was there, when you look at the 2000s and ’90s, to the music and the movies and the commercials and all that,” he said. “Hockey is still an integral part of culture. But sometimes things fall apart and new things happen. But just like other sports that have resurfaced and become cool, hockey is going to enjoy that in an evolving way.”

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