We have already seen players teasing some unique gear both on their social media accounts and at this year’s SoxFest convention. Now, it’s finally coming to the team store at Guaranteed Rate Field after the ongoing pandemic delayed its Opening Day release.
In a tweet on Thursday morning, the White Sox announced their new 35th & Shields private streetwear label would be available exclusively at the Chicago Sports Depot beginning next week.
The fresh look was created by designer Jon Contino, the founder and creative director of an independent branding studio – CONTINO – located in New York City. Over the years, he has become an influential part of the design community and started working in conjunction with the White Sox after meeting the team’s art director, Gareth Breunlin. The two shared a common idea in establishing a line of clothing that was more unique for fans than what you would typically find.
Having designed a new wordmark for the team that appeared on the 2019 Players’ Weekend uniforms and various promotional items, Contino knew the importance of making something special to represent the fanbase.
“We wanted the label to feel like it’s a very fan-centric type of thing and not necessarily like the corporate experience that I think you get with a lot of team merchandise,” the New York-native said. “I almost wanted it to be like that secret society of fans, where it’s just the true fans have this. Especially coming from the team store in the stadium, you have to be there to be able to get it. It’s not like you can be a bandwagon-type and it’s easy for you to find. When you’re a fan, you’re at the stadium, you’re at the game, and you’re with the team even in the ups and downs, and it’s really supposed to be representative of that.”
Inspired by the city’s culture and the team’s history, new items as part of this label include a plethora of t-shirts and hats with various statements relating back to the South Side. One of those that stood out to Jon, being that it was one of his originals when starting this project, was the phrase “outsiders and underdogs.”
“When you’re a White Sox fan in Chicago, I feel like a lot of people will have an opinion of you,” Contino said. “It’s one of those things where it’s just like, ‘oh, it’s all about the Cubs. Chicago is all about the Cubs.’ And it’s like, you need to have this great underdog mentality to be a Sox fan in Chicago. I just wanted to help in trying to define that voice the fans have in a more visual, kind of tangible way that they can use to represent themselves and spot each other on the street.”
“It’s like that calling card that really kind of allows the fans to have a stronger bond beyond just seeing other people at the stadium,” he continued. “When you see someone walk by with a 35th & Shields logo hat or logo shirt, you know that they’re like the true, real-deal fans. It’s hopefully a way to help unite those fans and maybe create an extended base.”
This sort of clothing line is somewhat rare to find across Major League Baseball, especially when it is being offered directly by a club. However, Contino hopes that things will change and we will start to see more of a voice coming out through team merchandise in the future.
“This is something that I think will really speak to the history of the franchise, the attitude of the franchise, the attitude of the fans – like what people are saying in the stands or outside of the stadium or waiting in line for a beer or hot dog,” he explained. “I think if other teams wouldn’t be so afraid to embrace that, you would see so much more personality in the sport.”
“People are dying for a personality to break out of baseball, and I think if the White Sox can see some success with this, maybe you’ll see other teams start to embrace it too,” Jon said. “It could be the first block that’ll fall from letting baseball be this newer, energized, more youthful self that I think people really want it to be.”
To find items that are a part of the 35th & Shields label, you will need to shop exclusively at Guaranteed Rate Field’s Chicago Sports Depot. The team is already accepting orders and will be arranging for curbside pick-ups for the foreseeable future. Please see the instructions below or visit whitesox.com/csd for more info.
UPDATE: The retail team confirmed in an email that shipping will be arranged for those not in the area. Their quantity is limited and they are on backorder but items can still be reserved. They also stated all items will be fulfilled in the order in which emails are received.
All photos courtesy of the Chicago White Sox