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Fashion's Emerging Designers and Influential Chess Players Collaborate to Create World's First Chess Uniform
Saint Louis Fashion Incubator designer Charles Smith II of Smith II (left) shakes Grandmaster Cristian Chirila's hand (right) at a visit to the Saint Louis Chess Campus in 2016. (PRNewsire Photo)
Fashion's Emerging Designers and Influential Chess Players Collaborate to Create World's First Chess Uniform
ST. LOUIS, MO, (PRNewsire), July 9, 2017 - Competitive sports around the globe may have many distinct differences, but they usually have one thing in common: uniforms. Throughout history, sports teams and even individual players have identified with a particular way of dress during gameplay. It's peculiar then that one of the oldest sports in the world has never claimed an official uniform - but that's about to change.

For the first time, with the help of the World Chess Hall of Fame, the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator's (SLFI) inaugural class will compete in Pinned! A Designer Chess Challenge to create the world's first official chess uniform.

The winning design will be revealed on August 1, 2017 at Windows on Washington, adjacent to the new SLFI in Saint Louis's historic Garment District, during the opening ceremonies for the Sinquefield Cup - a prestigious international chess tournament being held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL). The winner will receive a $10,000 cash scholarship.

"Chess has grown to have a very large, competitive presence in Saint Louis - truly shining a global spotlight on the venue, players and competitions that call Saint Louis home," said World Chess Hall of Fame Chief Curator Shannon Bailey. "Similarly, Saint Louis' historic garment district was once second to only New York as the largest in the country. We're thrilled to help the Saint Louis Fashion Fund rebuild what was once a booming industry in our city - starting with this unique designer chess challenge that represents the intersection of these two worlds."

Handpicked by a panel of industry professionals, the SLFI's inaugural class consists of six emerging designers from around the country including: Agnes Hamerlik of Chicago, IL; Allison Mitchell of Dallas, TX; Audra Noyes of New York, NY/Wilmington, DE; Charles Smith II of Dallas, TX; Reuben Reuel of Brooklyn, NY; and Emily Brady Koplar of Saint Louis, MO.

"The Saint Louis Fashion Fund and Pinned! competition couldn't have surfaced at a better time," said Board Chair of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund (SLFF), Susan Sherman. "The city's art, music, chess and fashion scenes are all evolving at once. We're in the midst of modern renaissance, and it's very exciting. The designers participating are so uniquely talented - and the designs they are creating are out of this world."

Since arriving in Saint Louis in January 2017, the designers have been counseled by chess grandmasters to create two chess-inspired garments-one uniform piece and one whimsical piece that will showcase the designers' creativity. The team pairings include:

Designer Agnes Hamerlik and Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez
Designer Allison Mitchell and Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana
Designer Audra Noyes of AUDRA and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley
Designer Charles Smith II of Smith II and Grandmaster Cristian Chirila
Designer Reuben Reuel of Demestik and Woman Grandmaster, Nazi Paikidze-Barnes
Designer Emily Brady Koplar of Wai Ming and Woman Grandmaster, Jennifer Shahade

"The creative aspect of this project makes it fun, but the practicality and functionality of the designs will be crucial," said chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley. "I'm very interested in seeing what this talented class of designers comes up with, and I am honored to be one of the chess players included in the project."

The final garments will be presented to a national panel of judges including:

New York-based Designer and Creative Director, Timo Weiland
Director of Global Forecasting at Macy's, Abbey Samet
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor, Debra Bass
Grandmaster, Eric Hansen

"The existence of local fashion incubators is so important for the growth of the national fashion industry-creatively and economically," said New York-based Designer and Creative Director Timo Weiland. "I'm especially glad to see it happening in a place like Saint Louis where the intersection of the classic sport of chess and fashion is being explored."

SLFI participant and Saint Louis-native Emily Brady Koplar added: "I'm excited to be a part of a project that impacts both the international stage of chess and St. Louis. This collaboration with the World Chess Hall of Fame will help demonstrate that St. Louis is home to great design and it has the potential to change the way people look at the city and the sport on a global level."

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