July 19, 2024

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Crafting Fashion Trends

Minds behind WVU Football’s newest coal-miner inspired uniform discuss the vision and concept

4 min read

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) – When you walk into the Hall of Traditions found inside the Milan Puskar Center, you’re sure to find a few things – whether it be the hardware in the trophy cases, countless Mountaineer Legends and moments in program history, displays paying tribute to legendary coaches, and of course, some more hardware. However, what might be a surprise is the fashion statements that you might find. WVU Football has worn a countless number of alternate uniforms throughout their 133 year history, with this year being no different. With the program and officials, like Matt Wells, planning to debut another set of uniforms this season that features a design that pays homage to one of the most important lines of work in the state – coal mining.

“I think it’d be one thing for us to sit in a meeting room and talk about what’s important to coal miners and try to come up with a design that pays the proper honor and respect to them, but we’re not coal miners,” Well said. “So, we want to hear from them what’s important, what’s meaningful, and I think that really helped shape an authentic view of what’s important to the coal industry, to the miners, and helped us show that through the uniform design.”

It’s no secret that the landscape of college football seems to be changing everyday. Uniforms not only attract future recruits, but they also mean a lot to fans as well, making it important to find a way to pay homage to the past, while still ushering in the future.

“I think you saw us bring in some traditional elements to the gold, blue, and white uniforms, incorporating more gold and blue in the white, bring the flying WV back to the sleeves of all the uniform sets, and do some things that really brought a history and tradition back onto the primary sets,” Wells said. “While still trying to modernize and speak to the younger demographic, to the recruits, to the players themselves; with that coal themed black uniform. So, trying to marry tradition with modern across all four sets of uniforms.”

After the vision for the Coal Rush uniforms were set, the next step involved finding someone who could turn a mere dream into a reality on the field, and longtime WVU designer Kristin Coldsnow answered the call.

“Well, we knew that the black uniforms were on the table, and then Matt gave us the go ahead to go explore a coal theme, which made it exciting and intimidating at the same time because I know how big of a deal it is to the state of West Virginia, and the main thing for me was just authenticity,” Coldsnow said. “We wanted to go visit the mines, speak with the miners, and just find out what’s important to them; live a little bit of the day-to-day operations, go down that scary elevator into the actual mine and kind of live it for a day. I had a lot of respect to begin with for the industry, but then going down and experiencing what your mind goes through as you go deeper and deeper and deeper in to the mountain, and then you come out and you’re under hundreds of feet of land, and it’s a trip.”

For Kristin, being a Mountaineer herself she didn’t take the duties of this project lightly, making sure to leave no stones unturned but also understanding it’s the details that make the fit.

“There was a real intention to not incorporate gold and blue into the uniform, to keep it dark and dusty with the theme. I think that part of it, just making it a true separate alternate uniform instead of trying to really force our school colors into it. We did that with the new set; the new gold, the blues, the whites, we really got into tradition there. Then we wanted to make this different. Uniforms are huge for recruiting now, and we wanted to make it an effective recruiting tool that represented the state and the people well. We took an actual coal miner uniform home and got the specs for the safety strips; that’s what’s on the legs and on the arm,” Coldsnow said. “We had access to this reflective twill through the Nike teams line, and once I dialed in on that, and used that as a tie to the actual uniform, it really came to life.”

With this upcoming season being one of the most heavily anticipated seasons for the Mountaineers in recent years, you can understand the excitement building around the program leading the Mountaineer faithful to believing the sky’s the limit.

“I think there’s a lot of positive momentum around the program, and the ability to build off a very successful nine-win season last year. Returning Penn State to the schedule, and hosting Penn State at Mountaineer Field for the first time in 30 plus years, and just the exciting transition into what’s now the new Big 12 Conference. With new teams coming in from the PAC 12, and some schools on the schedule, that haven’t really been on schedule before. Looking at all variables, big games obviously. Can you coordinate a night game with the debut of the coal rush uniforms, television plays a piece there, so there’s a few variables that we’re still working through. So, no announcement yet on when you’ll see the Coal Rush uniform on the field, but that will come here later on in the summer as we head towards the start of football season.”


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