National News

Designers to create 'World's First Chess Uniform' in St. Louis

Posted July 13, 2017 1:05 p.m. EDT

— Two industries are joining forces in St. Louis to make history. Fashion designers are trying to come up with the world's first chess uniform.

"Fashion is everywhere. Fashion is music. Fashion is street fashion. Fashion is chess," said Susan Sherman, chair of the St. Louis Fashion Fund. "I think there is more in common with chess and fashion than most people would think."

Some of the sport's greatest players agree.

"In this day and age, image is definitely very important," said Cristian Chirila, a chess grandmaster.

That is why the World Chess Hall of Fame is partnering with the St. Louis Fashion Fund.

"To see these two St. Louis institutions combine forces was really exciting," said Emily Brady Koplar, a local designer working at the fashion incubator.

It's a timely collaboration. St. Louis is gaining international recognition as the chess capital of the world. After once being home to a booming garment industry in the 1930s and 1940s, fashion is starting to make a comeback in the city.

Now, each of the six designers at the St. Louis Fashion Fund is being paired with six grandmasters to come up with the world's first chess uniform.

"I actually played chess so I can understand the physiological part of like actually playing chess so even going into the mosaic symbolism," said Charles Smith II, the designer paired with Chirila.

Both the grandmasters and designers have their own hopes for the uniform.

"Flexibility, practicality, because in the last moments of the game, you need speed," said Chirila.

But don't expect to see every chess player sporting a high fashion uniform right away.

"We're looking at the first step in an evolving process. Maybe this design is the basis for a capsule collection that can be sold over e-commerce, from the chess museum, from our website. But it may end up in a retailer like a Macy's or a big box store," Susan Sherman, Chair of the St. Louis Fashion Fund, said.

The top design comes with a $10,000 prize. The winner will be revealed on August 1 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). You can buy tickets for the event by clicking here.

Tournament organizers expect the event to have a significant economic impact. Between the Sinquefield Cup and St. Louis Rapid & Blitz with the World Champion being here and Garry Kasparov coming out of retirement, they anticipate chess could draw in $3 million into St. Louis.