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The first kit sticks with you.

There are so many memories that are directly tied to it. Whether those are largely good or bad depends on how the team does once it actually takes the field, but the first kit gets a few free passes. Win or lose, the first kit gets the first game, the first chance on goal and almost every first moment inherent to year one of a club. For a lot of folks, the kit is the moment a new team feels real. Names on a roster are great, but you can’t even envision what the players will look like on the field.

St. Louis CITY SC unveiled their inaugural primary jersey today – the CITY Kit – with the intention of having the first real moment of reflecting the club and the community. The colors were chosen with the St. Louis city flag in mind. The pattern on the left was selected with the intent of invoking the individual steel plates of The Arch. It’s all the product of a process that began before the club, which enters MLS in 2023 as team No. 29, even felt real to the people tasked with building it.

Spirit of St. Louis

“As a lot of your readers will know, there is quite a long lead time for working on these jerseys. You're sort of about 18 months ahead of yourself. So if you rewind where we're at almost two years ago now, we were working on a collaboration with adidas on a kit before we had anything,” St. Louis CITY SC chief brand architect Lee Broughton said.

“We had our colors and we had begun to really spend time on our crest. But this was something that we created thinking about how can we look at some of the iconic symbols that represent what it means to be in St. Louis, and find a way using adidas' brief that every team has to fill out ahead of time to try and have that very individualized, differentiated kind of concept.”

For those that don’t know, that brief is essentially a one-page form that gives teams a chance to communicate the concepts they want each kit to be centered around. You end up with what’s basically a kit mood board that works as the starting point for the process. St. Louis naturally focused on the most notable design elements in the city, but they also made sure to tweak some smaller details to get them just right.

“We were told you need a dark color for your home jersey,” Broughton said. “And so we spent time on the color spectrum thinking about the city's flag, and this was the furthest over towards what we found was really a contemporary red that really had a pink hue to it before it becomes a light color.

“I think in good St. Louis fashion, we're right on the edge.”

Unique features

In addition to being the first jersey for St. Louis CITY SC, it has the distinction of owning a couple of firsts in MLS. The kit is made of 100% recyclable materials. The kit also has the Apple TV logo patch on the sleeve, a feature for every club as MLS and Apple enter into their 10-year partnership.

On top of that, you can even try on the kit before you buy it. The club has partnered with Snapchat to allow fans to see what the jersey will look like on them by using an augmented reality experience in Snapchat’s Lens Explorer. All you have to do is search St. Louis CITY in the explorer.

As great as the details and activations are, it kind of seems like St. Louis fans would have bought this thing even if the club had scribbled St. Louis CITY SC in Sharpie onto a red t-shirt and called it a day. The expansion club shattered the MLS record for season ticket deposits, receiving 30,000 deposits within the first 15 minutes they went on sale. By the end of the first day, they’d received 50,000 deposits. It seems like the kits are already following a similar trend.

“I can tell you right now that if you think about the ticket deposit sales that we had when we broke records – the shoes that we were able to work with adidas along with other clubs also broke records – and I'm pretty comfortable in the understanding that so far the pre-sales of our jerseys are breaking records too,” Broughton said.

The good news for the many folks that have already bought a kit is the club went well beyond a Sharpied t-shirt. They worked to make it far more personal. And one of the major firsts for all of those new season ticket holders should resonate a little bit more because of that.

“A lot of the vision of the club is wanting to be very intentional about how we think about this idea of the spirit of a new St. Louis. I think that you know, we are looking for ways in which we can wed ourselves as a club to the geography that we're in, in a way that everyone can get behind,” Broughton said.

“There's quite a lot of things that are happening that we really wanted to have the fans feel like they can take part in and that they can wear and own as they go around the country supporting us as we play other teams. But also it becomes symbolic of our identity together when we're all in the stadium united by the idea of St. Louis CITY SC.”