He first sported a Suisey while pretending to be a journalist who sneaked into the ring after a Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios fight at the world’s largest casino in Macao, China.
Zach Etkind became a Boston/Shanghai-based web celeb with his “Donnie Does China” Youtube series, which follows the travels of a footloose self-described Masshole as he navigates his way through China with his pet duck and his Larry Bird jersey. But sometimes, a jersey isn’t going to cut it for a dress code.
“I was going to the Pacquiao fight and needed something more classy than a Bird jersey,” Etkind said. “We knew we were going to shoot an episode there, so we decided to make a bright green Suisey with Bird and 33 printed on the back. We didn’t plan on making too many of them, but people kept asking where they could get one.”
Thus, Suisey Fanwear was born, combining the spirit of sports fanaticism with sharp-looking suits. They are exactly what their slogan says: Half Suit. Half jersey. All Class.
One might think that any idiot could have come up with the idea of slapping a name and number on the back of a suit jacket, but Etkind and Rob Wallace won the 2014 Paul and Elizabeth Montle Prize for Entrepreneurial Achievement at Tufts University for their blueprint pitch of Suisey Fanwear. That’s a $10,000 prize to kick off their project.
“There were two winners of this business plan competition that year,” Etkind said. “One was a project that helped adults on the autism spectrum improve their speaking skills for jobs and college applications, and then there’s two dudes making suit jerseys. I’m glad they saw something in us.”
So far, they have deals in the works with Clemson and University of South Carolina, hoping to start selling their creations this football season.
“We aren’t officially licensed by any of the professional leagues yet,” Etkind said. “Getting that done is a lengthy process, but we’re certain we have something here.”
The NFL requires product pitches to come with a $100,000 licensing fee, which is quite a hurdle. In the mean time, Etkind and Wallace have their sights set on Southern colleges where football is a religion, and fully customized, made-to-order suits that don’t have official logos on them.
"We're making customized ones, where customers can choose their color scheme, name, and number, but no licensed logos,” Etkind said.
Suiseys go for about $139-$179 depending on design.
The idea isn’t limited to sports teams. Etkind said they aim to make a whole line for fraternities and sororities, bands, movies and TV shows.
“It started out as a sports-oriented idea," Etkind said, "but it seems like the sky’s the limit."