Born and raised in Chicago, RELLO — a contemporary artist known for his concentrations in pop art and collectible objects — has always been a fan of the city's sports teams. But he's always been particularly drawn to the Bears for their historically tough and gritty nature, which "embodies the spirit of Chicago."
"The Bears calling card was always defense, linebackers, hard-nosed," RELLO said. "I've always gravitated towards the bears because they felt like Chicago. They felt like the city."
That connection to the city he loves and creates art for led RELLO to collaborating with the Bears. He designed a collection of limited-edition items titled "For the Love of the City" that will be available at https://www.rello.gallery/ starting Saturday, Nov. 4.
The items will also be displayed and available for purchase at Cherry Mountain Arts in November as part of an expanded gallery exhibit, which offers a unique immersive experience that honors the Bears history with RELLO's point of view using a culmination of art, community and dedication.
"RELLO's work is inspired by rich Chicago history and is so impactful on its own," Bears director of brand marketing insights and strategy Laura Condella said, "but the opportunity to bring our two brands together, to tell this story about the soul of our city, is one we're so excited to bring to life. Partnering with RELLO for this latest collection creates another rich moment in Chicago history."
RELLO doesn't take on partnership projects often, but being a Bears fan, a football fan and "a true Chicago guy," the collaboration with his hometown time just felt right.
Keeping the collection authentic to his own brand while both tying in the Bears' tradition and representing Chicago were all key parts to the collab. Rather than creating something "on the nose" and literal to the city, RELLO wanted to make sure the pieces embodied "the spirit of Chicago." He wants everyone to feel connected to the message.
Throughout his creative process, RELLO thought of several questions to hone in on that message: What would a real Chicago Bears fan wear? What would you wear if you've been a fan of the Bears for the last 30 years of your life? What would that look like if you were an art fan or a fan of mine?
"That's how I approached the designs, and also from a standpoint of making something that if you don't fall in line with being a RELLO art fan or super diehard Bears fan, you can look at this and you can feel like it's still welcoming to you and you can still join this club, you can still be a part of it." he said. "Something that can touch everybody, and everybody feels like they can wear it without thinking, 'Oh man, I like it, but I don't fit into the mold of X, Y.'"
The pieces that RELLO is most proud of are the made-from-scratch varsity jackets, which capture that inclusivity and creativity. Featuring RELLO's reinterpretation of the Bears logo, the jackets are a collector's item and are all numbered on the outside pocket.
Tying in the traditional sports aspect of it being a varsity jacket while also adding in the art collector piece allowed RELLO to "marry art and fashion and sports."
For RELLO, the most important part of the collaboration is the community efforts attached to it. A portion of the proceeds will be dedicated to supporting RELLO'S Cherry Mountain Art Center, an art gallery based in Chicago.
The goal is to establish an art center that serves as a gathering place for the community to come together and use art as inspiration. Funds earned will facilitate artist grants and pioneer programs that fosters community engagement through the arts.
This project is "deeper than just some t-shirts and jackets
," to RELLO. It's a true ode to Chicago, its hardworking and resilient people and both his and the Bears' overall community efforts.
"It's a very special thing to see this football team that you watched as a kid on TV now turn around and want to pour into the community like that," RELLO said. "That gives the project a little bit of meaning, a little bit of substance.
"That's really what this type of thing should look like, because a lot of fans do pour into brands and ball clubs. Sometimes you don't see clubs pour back into those communities. This is a great opportunity for it to be full circle, for you to love something so much and for that thing to actively love you back."
The Chicago Bears and RELLO have collaborated on a limited-edition fashion line and gallery activation. Take a look at the exclusive merch, which are available now at https://www.rello.gallery/. A portion of proceeds from this collection will support grants for young and diverse artists at Cherry Mountain Arts, a Chicago-based art gallery.