A fresh new entry into the world of mashup kits, we get a look behind Participation Trophy Studio and its founder Zachary Moore.
It all started with a torn ACL. Zachary Moore was guest playing on the Nowhere FC team in New York City, and a freak accident left him with an injury like he’s never had before. That was 14 months ago.
Moore, who’s still recovering today, used the year-plus of downtime to create his own brand Participation Trophy Studio. It had its coming out party over the Fourth of July weekend, as it unveiled its most ambitious project yet, three mash-up kits made from 14 different United States men’s and women’s national team jerseys.
All three kits are up for raffle, with each $10 ticket benefitting Color of Change, a nonprofit online racial justice organization. But how did Moore get here? Let’s go back to the days following his injury.
Moore was unable to play soccer, which up until that point had been a constant in his life that extended beyond the pitch. A Washington, D.C. native, he was a mainstay with football creative collective Guerrilla FC, and he also forged a professional career adjacent to the game.
Now stuck at home (before everyone else was doing it), Moore needed something to fill the creative void brought into existence by the torn ligament in his knee. To do so, he turned to perhaps an unexpected medium — sewing.
Moore always had an interest in creating his own clothing, but he never knew how. Instead of wallowing in the pain and misfortune of his injury, he took it upon himself to learn a new skill. He signed up for a sewing class, where over the course of an hour and 20 minutes he put together a pillow.
“It was funny to struggle with that,” Moore said. “At the end of the class they said, ‘Now that you mastered this, what do you want to go on to make?’ And I said, ‘I want to make a soccer jersey.’ And everyone kind of looked at me crazy.”
Puzzled looks aside, Moore now had the basics under his belt and was one step closer to actualizing his goal. But he still needed to figure out how he was going to create his own jersey. Purchasing fabric was another foreign concept, and in lieu of taking another class, he used what was available to him.
A longtime kit collector (he estimates anywhere between 50-75 jerseys in his closet), Moore’s then-occupation at a sports apparel retailer also gave him access to a handful of irregular and returned jerseys that were unsuitable to sell. With these kits just sitting around, he didn’t need to buy new fabric. Instead, he did what was logical — repurpose and upcycle them.
Through trial and error, he developed his skills, starting with tote bags and progressing into shirts. Eventually he got up to a point where he was confident enough to release items to the public, and Participation Trophy Studio was born.
“In the last two months I’ve reached that point of being where I’m at a level of quality that I would be happy putting my name behind,” Moore said. “I would say that it was a good six, seven months before I reached that point.
“Co-workers saw it and they gave me positive feedback, or I’d post something on my personal Instagram and people would give me positive feedback. Every now and then people would ask me to create something for them. I was making these bags and jerseys and giving them away for free because I enjoyed creating them.”
Now we’re back to present day. The trio of U.S. kits, each more eye-catching than the last, will be up for grabs until June 12 at 12:01 a.m. The 14 jerseys that make them up range from 2004 to 2019, with iconic staples like the 2014 “Bomb Pop” and 2006 home positioned front and center.
The mashup route came more from opportunity than it did from Moore’s original vision, but he’s been able to create his own lane in a field which can easily become repetitive. He cites mashup OG Floor Wesseling of Blood In, Blood Out as an inspiration, but unlike the Dutch label, Moore’s jerseys tell a story through cohesive rather than contrasting elements.
Above all, Moore wants his brand to represent one thing — anyone can channel their creativity into something tangible (hence the name, “Participation Trophy Studio”). You just have to go out and do it.
“This should be something that inspires and encourages other peoples’ creativity,” Moore said. “A year ago, I had zero sewing experience, zero Photoshop experience, and zero Illustrator experience. I just picked it up little by little just because it’s something I’m passionate about and interested in. That should be proof that anyone else with similar interests in jerseys and soccer — or whatever sport — can do something similar.”
You can purchase a raffle ticket for each mashup jersey here. Be sure to follow Participation Trophy Studio on Instagram to stay up to date with its latest releases.
Photos by IG/Championslye for Participation Trophy Studio