by Debbie Monterrey

What does a chess player’s uniform look like? Good question.

“Every other sport has a very recognizable uniform. There are 600-million chess players in the world and there isn’t a chess uniform,” says Shannon Bailey, chief curator at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

But there may be one soon! The Chess Hall of Fame partnered with the St. Louis Fashion Fund for a first-of-its-kind designer chess challenge.  Six designers from the St. Louis Fashion Incubator created two pieces: one practical to be worn by a player and a second avant-garde piece inspired by the game.

Photo courtesy of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Bailey says the designers were paired up with chess Grand Masters so they could learn more about what the players might be looking for in a uniform.

“You can’t have a big, blousy sleeve because you could knock chess pieces over,” says Bailey. “Players gave them feedback about resting on their elbows. Even though it’s a game you’re sitting down and playing, how physical it can be.”

Photo courtesy of the World Chess Hall of Fame

And the winners!
The winning designer was Audra Noyes, of AUDRA, who receives a $10,000 cash scholarship. Emily Brady Koplar of Wai Ming won the People’s Choice award and a gift from Tiffany & Co.

Will the winning designs some day become an actual chess uniform? Bailey says both winners went directly from this competition to New York Fashion Week, so they’ve been busy. But there are plans to sit down and discuss the uniforms’ future.

All of the designs will be on display at the new exhibit, “Pinned! A Designer Chess Challenge,” Friday, October 6th through March of 2018.

“It was an honor to partner with the World Chess Hall of Fame to create this challenge and we are thrilled about the exhibition,” said SLFF Board Chair Susan Sherman. “Our inaugural class of designers is uniquely talented, and we were blown away by their creations. It is so exciting to be part of what we see as a renaissance in our city. Saint Louis has a vibrant fashion, chess, and art scene which will be captured in this exhibit.”