/ 1 December 2015

Out in the Cold

An ongoing debate, one of many stirred up by the unique endeavor that is American soccer, is how we’re supposed to play the world’s game through our country’s coldest months. I can’t speak for players, but I do consider myself a diehard U.S. soccer fan. And as a fan, I love the rare times a big match is scheduled in a cold-weather venue during the American winter. I know I’m not alone; many of us get a kind of unexplainable thrill from being fans in cold weather. There’s a sense of comeraderie and solidarity that comes with being fans out the cold. There are uniquely American fan traditions that are meant for the cold. And the cold gives us a home-field advantage that virtually nobody else has.

As a New Englander, I live through the cold each year. As an American soccer fan, I celebrate its place in our soccer story. So, as a guy running an apparel company focused on fan passion, I figured it was about time we made something meant for the cold.

Happily, soccer culture has already provided us an ideal template. There’s one item that already sits at the exact intersection of cold weather, style, and soccer spirit. One item that fans the world over already unequivocally love, no matter the season.

The venerable soccer scarf.

At Clean Sheet Co., we’re making our first scarf, and announcing it today. And I think we’ve come up with a fantastic design that belongs in every American soccer fan’s collection.

Meet the Gadsden Scarf.

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Many of you know, wear and love our Gadsden shirt, derived from the colonial-era flag of the same name. As “Don’t Tread on Me” became a rallying cry for domestic soccer fans over the past dozen years or so, the accompanying concept of the American rattlesnake as a symbol for our national soccer team turned permanent. Like a snake, at its best, U.S. soccer is a potent threat hiding in plain sight, ready to strike and willing to defend to the death. Part of the appeal of the symbol is that it crystalizes a very American-soccer feeling — once we’ve been roused, we have the capability of shocking and subduing traditional powers. I like to think of our adversaries as careless, lumbering animals, stumbling into a den of rattlers, not fully understanding what they’ve gotten themselves into. Until it’s too late.

Beneath all the symbolism, of course, there’s also a gut-level reaction. The Gadsden is a kick-ass visual that’s a beautiful departure (and a welcome complement) to our usual palette of red, white and blue.

The Gadsden Scarf features only two colors – warning yellow and deep black. At one end, you have the hoop-style stripes you’d see on a traditional soccer scarf. As your eye moves towards the middle, the stripes beging to curve, subtley at first, until they erupt in coiled energy – and finally the iconic Gadsden rattlesnake emerges in all its glory. image On one side, the snake is black on yellow; flip the scarf over, and the colors reverse (a motif that’s also been very popular in t-shirt form). The Clean Sheet Co. crest is proudly embroidered, once in each color, at the opposite ends.

Design is about how an item looks, but also how it feels, wears, and endures. To perfect our first scarf, we worked with the industry leaders at Ruffneck Scarves, who produce them for MLS clubs, the USSF, and the American Outlaws, among others. Odds are they had something to do with the favorite scarf in your collection. (Well, second favorite after today.) The finished product is made to exacting quality standards — a perfect marriage between Ruffneck’s lifetime of experience and Clean Sheet Co.’s unique sense of style.

The Gadsden was Clean Sheet Co.’s first-ever t-shirt, so it’s fitting that the Gadsden Scarf is our first-ever scarf. And even though we’re going back to one of our original inspirations, it’s taken us a couple years working on dozens of different items to produce a design exactly this right. The Gadsden Scarf perfectly expresses where Clean Sheet Co. is right now: beautiful, functional, clever and passionate.

Winter has arrived, and the Gadsden Scarf is available for pre-order starting today. I really hope you love it as much as we do.