Cassidy Sepnieski knew she had a tough task ahead of her in creating Forward Madison’s 2021 alternate kit. Sepnieski, the team’s art director, understood the pressure was on to live up to the reputation she and the rest of Forward Madison’s design team created with their previous kits.
The process that followed included numerous different designs, a last-minute flight to Los Angeles, and plenty of risks taken.
The end result was a kit unlike anything Forward fans have seen before. This is the story of the creation of Forward Madison’s Beach/Club Kit.
Cassidy Sepnieski created the Flamingos' alternate kit. | Photo by Jason Klein
This one-of-a-kind kit did not originate as a reversible jersey, and each of the designs has its own unique creation story.
The first design, the “Club” side, drew inspiration from Forward Madison’s 2019 pink flamingo goalkeeper kit, also designed by Sepnieski, that caught fire with Forward fans and became part of the team’s identity.
“We knew we kind of hit a sweet spot with the step-and-repeat flamingo pattern, and it has just become inherently part of our identity, so we wanted to bring that look and identity into more of a streetwear type of realm,” Sepnieski said.
The result: a modernized jersey featuring a slick black background accentuated by an overlaying pattern of hot-pink flamingos, bringing a familiar style back into Forward’s jersey rotation, but this time with a twist.
The process for the other design for this jersey, the “Beach” side, began during Forward’s 2020 season. Sepnieski and the rest of Forward’s design team wanted to create an artistic, pink jersey inspired by vignettes of Madison in the summertime. It was not until the offseason, however, that she got the chance to explore this novel artistic style.
Sepnieski challenged herself when designing the ‘Beach side’, hand-drawing, painting, and rendering each piece of the design.
“From drawing it out with charcoal, to painting over it, to putting it all together, that whole process was way outside of my comfort zone,” she said.
This challenging undertaking led Sepnieski and the Forward design team to trying a multitude of different styles.
“We went through a lot of iterations of how that one was set up, like do we want it to be a little more ‘dad-style,’ did we want to add an underlying texture to it to bring it into that ‘beachy/vintage’ vibe?” Sepnieski explained. “We played around with a lot of different versions of that artwork before landing on what we have.”
They landed on a design that differed drastically from the original, and that resulted from the challenges of creating a reversible jersey.
The decision to create a reversible jersey was born out of an abundance of solid designs that Sepnieski had outlined. With their home jerseys featuring a solid blue base with a white sash, and the away kits being designed by Forward’s supporter group The Flock, Sepnieski had too many designs and not enough jerseys for them.
“We had two really solid designs that we wanted to use, and well, the natural conclusion was, why not put them together?”
Putting two designs together proved easier said than done, and getting these two jerseys onto one kit had obstacles unlike any Sepnieski had faced before.
“The process of getting two solid kits into one actually required me flying out to L.A. and working on the ground with the factory for a whole day.”
Not only did nailing this jersey require long-distance travel, but Sepnieski had a time crunch to deal with as well. The design team did not finalize the jersey until the absolute last minute.
“That day before the home kit launch, I was in Los Angeles working with our digital industries team to fine-tune and print samples as we were creating them so we could nail down the reversible style of it.”
Although it took until the midnight hour, the final result gave Forward a design unlike anything they have had before.
Sepnieski with Forward's digital industries team.
With the success of Forward’s previous jerseys, including their 2019 alternate that one outlet named the best kit in the world and the Drip Kit in 2020 that is the team’s best-selling design to date, Sepnieski knew the pressure was on to create a jersey that topped what she had done before.
“Each season it’s been, ‘you’ll never beat what you did last year’ and whether or not people like this or not, I feel really proud of what we did because it pushed us out of the box so completely,” she said.
Sepnieski and the Forward design team took the pressure to succeed internally and put thought, time, and effort into creating something that they hope Forward fans can be proud of.
“I hope fans appreciate that we didn’t just lie down and die,” Sepnieski said.
On June 23, Forward Madison revealed its new alternate kit in a unique way during its game against Greenville Triumph SC.
The team came out in the first half wearing the Club side before switching to the Beach side for the second half.
Although the team failed to capture a victory, battling to a draw against Greenville, the new kits received near-unanimous praise from fans. With compliments like “Easily the greatest jersey in all of sports,” “Absolutely flawless execution,” and “I haven’t seen anything like it. Mind BLOWN,” it’s safe to say that Sepnieski and Forward’s design team has struck gold yet again.
Sepnieski’s latest design gives Forward fans something they surely have never seen before.