The Pilsen Predators: A Crosstown Collaboration
This past year has been a time of fresh starts and opening new chapters of my life (both personally & professionally). I moved neighborhoods, and dumped a bunch of toxic parts of my life out the window to start over. A big focus with these new moves was to realign myself with the passions and projects that have guided my life up until this point. I needed to stay close to things that kept me happy and progressing forward.
Often times, when you are passionate about something creative like djing or music, the lines between work or “away time” are never clearly defined.
You’re always “on the job” or “always working” and your passion permeates everything you come in contact with - whether it be social connections, what you consume, or what you wear.
There’s a million artists, musicians, and djs - so when approaching projects, I always look to what makes me an outlier or individual, rather than falling in line with other creators in the world. One of those things for me is my involvement as DJ & Music Director for the Chicago Fire.
Anticipating to be signed on for another season as the Chicago Fire’s DJ (Edit: I got the job guys woo!) - I wanted to incorporate my new home Pilsen into the matchday experience, not only sonically, but also in how I present myself on the decks.
Enter DeJesus Customs - A Chicago-Based shoe designer that I came across through my friend Drew Connor, who plays professionally on the Fire and made some pretty tight kicks himself with their team. DeJesus has come correct on projects for atheletes in ever league from MLS to NFL, so I approached them with a lot of anticipation to create something special.
This was the result.
The base palette was the David Beckham limited edition Predator Accelerator, a consortium-only release of Adidas iconic soccer silhouette translated into the street-style platform. Having been a huge fan of Becks as a kid, this seemed like the perfect canvas to start with for this shoe.
As far as Pilsen Influence on the shoe - it becomes a “dicey” subject. While I’ve been exploring neighborhoods like the near-south community in Chicago for the eight years I’ve called this city home, I’m a relatively new resident to this location. I am not gonna avoid the fact that as a white guy, whose appearance is super eurocentric, living in a community going through a lot of issues preserving it’s identity against gentrification, my involvement here is problematic.
Pilsen, since its inception has been a space for immigrant communities, and while the ethnicity and cultural makeup has changed, that spirit still exists here today. The ambitious, persistent, and hard-working attitude is one of the major characteristics I’ve take from my relatives before me, and it’s a feeling I continue to seek in the support group I surround myself with overall. The artist and cultural network here in Pilsen is a place where I feel that same energy, and its one of the few places in Chicago you can go to still regularly speak Spanish, which was a big thing for me overall.
I started taking Spanish when I was in Kindergarten, as part of a community initiative in my school district to teach kids a new language. While my academic journey afforded me a chance to take French, Russian, or Chinese, I stuck with Spanish throughout school until I graduated with a double major in 2013 from DePaul here in Chicago.
The language itself has been one of the most consistent aspects of my life, through different experiences and opportunities, always offering an alternative way to communicate and better understand others.
Part of moving to Pilsen, and living in a historically relevant art gallery space, was to represent and uphold the culture of a community even if it’s an identity that is not innately my own. As a creative representative for a community like the Fire, I felt like it was important to show and pay homage to the multiple influences and identities that help shape my perspective on the daily.
With the help of my friend Caleb Zahm, we connected with Chitown Futbol, a local soccer facility in Pilsen that’s had their doors open to players since the 90’s. Gravitating towards the brightly colored murals and street-style aesthetic - we shot a range of photos highlighting the unique silhouette and the brand new 2018 Fire kit.
A big thank you to Jose from Chitown, for giving us access to the facility, and Dillon from DeJesus for snapping on the overall finished product. As weather conditions start to brighten up here in the Windy City, expect more content like this for the future.