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Here’s One Way the Bears Might Be Relevant in 2017: Fashion

Can Chicago’s street-style prophet, Joe Freshgoods, make Bears gear cool again?

Joe Freshgoods’s line of Bears gear sold out in 20 minutes last weekend. Don’t worry, more is coming.   Photos: Courtesy of Joe Freshgoods

The Bears aren’t giving anybody a good reason to rep their jerseys this season, but with fashion favorite Joe Freshgoods in their corner, you’ll be seeing more blue and orange—and other designs inspired by the team—on the streets.

Freshgoods, also known as Joseph Robinson, is a Chicago designer with fans ranging from Vic Mensa to Anna Wintour. He’s known internationally as a demigod of street style, running a wildly popular web store as well as a storefront, Fat Tiger Works (836 N. Milwaukee Ave.), in Noble Square. Last weekend, his line of limited-edition Bears designs sold out in 20 minutes at Fat Tiger—and more pieces are on the way.

“Growing up, whenever the Bulls, Blackhawks, whoever are winning, I would always do my own version of that team’s gear,” Robinson says. “A dream has been to partner and make my version of how I think their gear should look.”

The faltering Bears and a pinnacle of Chicago’s laissez-faire fashion may seem like an odd pairing, but the powers that made this possible saw it as the answer to the Bears’ waning relevance.

“We went to the Bears and asked them, ‘Why do you see Bulls and Blackhawk jerseys at Lollapalooza, but you don’t see Bears jerseys?’” says Bradley Eshbach of Match Marketing Group, a Chicago-based firm. “Rather than sit around a conference table and contrive something, let’s go to one of the biggest tastemakers in this community and let them do it.”

Robinson, along with fellow Chicago designer Sheila Rashid (who designed Chance the Rapper’s signature overalls), scoured the internet and purchased hundreds of dollars of vintage Bears gear for inspiration, including designs from that 1985 season that Bears fans will never get over. Born in 1986, Robinson missed the team’s successful season by a slim margin, but photos exist of him decked out in orange and blue as a toddler—even in some designs that inspired his new line.

Some T-shirts (starting at $35) showcase the Freshgoods branding in the Bears’ classic “Chicago” font above a flaming helmet, directly inspired from a 1992 shirt Robinson found. Others include camouflage shirts with the word “monsters”—of the “Monsters of the Midway” era—emblazoned atop two bears, as well as sweaters inspired by the original blue and orange. His collaborations with Rashad include vintage jackets combined with sweatshirts to create new pieces ranging from $100 to $500.

A portion of proceeds from items sold will be donated to SocialWorks, an organization created by Chance the Rapper that works to empower Chicago youth “through the arts, education and civic engagement.” The two men previously collaborated on a collection of limited-edition pieces to commemorate the end of the Obama administration and pay tribute to the former first family, aptly titled, “Thank U Obama.”

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