Fashion visionary Rhuigi Villaseñor and the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes are joining forces for an ambitious union.
Villaseñor and the hockey team’s chief brand officer, Alex Meruelo Jr., have revealed the RHUDE founder has been appointed Creative Strategist by way of the Meruelo Group. Through his agency, Rheimagine, the fashion phenom will oversee the creative aspirations of the hockey team during the 2022-2023 season.
The 30-year-old will steer the design of an exclusive capsule collection, which includes in-game special edition jerseys, hoodies, shirts, and hats that sing Arizona’s praises and pride. Rheimagine and the Coyotes’ groundbreaking collaboration is the first time in the league’s history that a creative director will design a collection for a professional hockey team.
“It’s me rethinking the brand,” the Filipino-American creative expressed to VIBE. “I wanted something much larger that can take a life of its own and be appreciated by something beyond my world and sports. I wanted to grow it beyond that and into a lifestyle brand.”
Villaseñor will also collaborate on a third, special edition jersey for the team. “I love Americana. I love Ralph Lauren. I love Levi’s. I love all these things. It’s about creating a jersey and creating the Arizona Coyotes brand to look as Americana as possible, or as Arizona as possible,” he expressed. “Creating something that I think can be new for the brand.”
For the designer, the challenge of his creative mind was one of the many reasons behind his decision to work with the NHL team.
“I wear an L.A. hat everywhere because I represent I’m from L.A.,” he explained. “But I can imagine there is no Arizona hat that I know that’s an Arizona hat. And we need to create the hat that is the ultimate destination for Arizona. We need to create a dope a** hat that people from L.A. are like, ‘I want to wear an Arizona hat.'”
The move is one of the hockey franchise’s many plans for its brand refresh. The Arizona Coyotes are planning to play at a new arena on Arizona State University’s campus beginning next season. As the inaugural creative strategist, Villaseñor will also oversee the creative direction for the iconic Sahara Las Vegas hotel and casino, owned by Meruelo Jr.
For Meruelo, the Latino majority owner of the Coyotes, the decision to tap Rhuigi to breathe new life into their franchise was a no-brainer. “Moving locations, seeing this brand as an expansion team now, [and] a brand new arena out in Tempe, we’ve gone through a lot recently as a team,” Meruelo told VIBE. “The way Rhuigi does this stuff is truly iconic. And he’s one of the visionaries that I actually aspire to and look up to.
“I’m not a creative in the sense where I can create work as he does. But I’m creative in the sense of how do I align my brands and push boundaries? And I knew if I could work with him, we could create something special and turn Arizona Coyotes into Arizona’s team.”
The capsule collection’s release date has yet to be announced. However, the Arizona Coyote’s season kicks off at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz. on Friday, Oct. 28. Watch the team’s new #RunWithThePack campaign video below.