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Exclusive: Chicago Fire Football Club to Release Streetwear Collaboration with UGLY Brandon

In an interview with BET.com, the "You Gotta Love Yourself" designer, Brandon Carlton, discusses his inspiration behind the collaboration.

Streetwear designer Brandon Carlton aka 'Ugly Brandon' has dropped a fire collaboration with the Chicago Fire Football Club, that pays homage to the city. The self-taught designer's line, who grew up surrounded by soccer, has everything a fan could look for in streetwear.

The varsity jacket, T-shirt, hoodies, sweatpants, rugby shirt, socks, hat, and tote bag are all designed with Chicago in mind. Logos include designs that showcase the Chicago skyline and mash-ups between UGLY Brandon and the club’s logos.

"This is the first-ever streetwear collaboration the Club has done, but I also think it provides a new energy for our fans that have stood by us. UGLY Brandon and the Fire are all about community and you begin to realize how similar it is to the streetwear scene. When people wear your crest or line, it allows you to be a part of something bigger, a movement if you will, that speaks to everyone. We want this collection to be for all Chicago," says Justyne Freud, Senior Director of Marketing Chicago Fire.

Ugly Brandon

BET.com spoke with Carlton about his collaboration and the inspiration surrounding it.

BET.com: What was the inspiration behind your designs for Chicago Fire?

Brandon Carlton: The inspiration behind the designs comes from a mix of preppy-athlete meets everyday people. I usually start with a character (costume) in mind and I’ve been into a lot of vintage but everyday pieces; this is where UGLY connects those dots for the FIRE. UGLY is for everyone and there’s a look in the collection for those who are into classic streetwear, the preppy look, and just grab and go. The collection was designed where you can mix and match and pull off any of these looks described.

BET.com: You mentioned your father played soccer at UMBC, was that a sport you grew up playing also or enjoying?

Brandon Carlton: Unfortunately, I didn’t get into soccer until college where I played intramurally. But it was instantly fun because I was an athlete and the amount of people I was meeting from playing. My father never forced his background in soccer on me but he would always reference the sport in everyday life.

UGLY Brandon

BET.com: Your motto is “You gotta love yourself” - how did you come up with the name/motto, what are some of the things you love about yourself and soccer?

Brandon Carlton: I came up with the name during my Tumblr days when I would always hear my friends call me UGLY while we joked around. During this period of time, I then began to own it as a way to be free, and live on my own terms. Some things I love about myself are that I really own my individuality. I care for others, I want to help others. My family comes first. Things I love about soccer are the diversity in the sport and obviously the attire worn by players on and off the field.

BET.com: Who are/were some of your influences growing up and what made you decide to get into fashion?

Brandon Carlton: The influences that got me into fashion are people such as Pharrell, old tv shows, movies, traveling and people watching. Random but it was almost inevitable because I got “Best Dressed” and would sell clothes all throughout high school.

BET.com: Who are some of your favorite Chicago Fire players?

Brandon Carlton: Don’t judge me on my “why”, but my favorite player on the Fire has to be Gabriel Slonina, the goalkeeper, because I’m a visual artist so the first thing that comes to mind is the standout uniform worn by the goalie while other players have to wear identical uniforms. What can I say, I just like different.

BET.com: Do you plan on dropping any other collections soon?

Brandon Carlton: I have some more releases shortly after this collaboration. Tracksuits and glasses. I’m really just unlocking new characters and getting out all my ideas whether it’s art or clothing. That’s what loving yourself is all about. Doing what you want. Now that’s UGLY!

The collection launch will take place on Friday, Oct. 7 at 6:00 p.m. CT at Round Two, a vintage clothing store in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, ahead of the Club’s 25th Anniversary on Saturday, Oct 8.

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