Chicago tailor Ge Wang will leave his mark on NFL Draft

Chicago tailor Ge Wang will leave his mark on NFL Draft

As Ronnie Stanley strolls across the stage in downtown Chicago Thursday night to be revealed as a first-round draft pick — perhaps by the Chicago Bears — the suit he’ll be wearing will stand out, destined to blow up on Twitter and Instagram. 

Ge Wang, who founded and runs the Chicago-based bespoke suit company ESQ Clothing, coyly won’t delve into what Stanley will be wearing. It’s going to be a major reveal for Wang and his hand-made bespoke suit shop, which has risen to prominence in NFL circles over the past few years.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity, especially for Ronnie,” Wang said. “This is a night they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Wang’s path to outfitting the likes of Stanley, former Bears running back Matt Forte, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith and plenty others isn’t what you may expect. He’s a native of suburban Chicago and attended Glenbard South High School before earning a political science degree from Notre Dame. That route brought him to DePaul’s law school and on to practicing real estate law in Chicago. 

While working as a lawyer, though, Wang felt he couldn’t find a suit that fit him, so he started dipping into custom-made ones. Something about that experience took hold, and he decided to give up a stable profession to follow a passion. 

“I had absolutely no experience, to be honest,” Wang said. “I just kinda knew what I liked wearing and I went from there.” 

So Wang started designing custom, hand-made suits out of a tiny, 250 square foot room in his Lake Shore East condo. His dog was running around, his girlfriend was nonplussed, and his parents questioned why he left his old job.

But he came in contact with a friend of a friend of a friend, who happened to be former Bears fullback Jason Davis. Davis liked Wang’s stuff, and word got around the Bears locker room. And then, all of a sudden, Wang had a request from Forte to make him a suit. 

“You know that feeling you get when you get off a roller coaster and you can’t feel your legs? That was kind of what it was like,” Wang said. 

Forte became one of Wang’s best clients — “now he comes in here and we shoot pool and play FIFA together,” Wang said — but also was key in promoting ESQ Clothing. NFL players talk a lot, which is why after seeing the garment he made for Forte, Wang had a message on Instagram from Charles asking for a suit. 

Wang was able to tap into his Notre Dame connections, too, to help get the word out there about his business. For a high-end, custom shop — ESQ’s team of tailors are picky about the materials they use, and hand-made bespoke suits start at $2,000 — having pro athletes wearing his stuff was a huge credibility booster. 

But what athletes seem to really love about ESQ’s suits is the custom printing they can put on the lining of a suit jacket. Portland Trail Blazers and former Irish swingman Pat Connaughton has the Golden Dome printed inside one of his. Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce both ordered jackets with their likenesses in it, as did former Notre Dame running back and NFL Draft hopeful C.J. Prosise. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown went a different route: Skittles. 

Soon... Don't sleep on our guy @cpro20 #notredame

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Those designs turned heads. But Wang thinks what Stanley will wear Thursday night is going to stand out even more. 

“He came in asking for something — the color scheme was just beyond, something I would’ve never have thought of,” Wang said. “What you’re going to see is going to be really cool.” 

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday. 

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

The Bears began their slew of offseason moves by releasing inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Freeman, 31, signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Bears in 2016.

In his first year in Chicago he amassed 110 tackles in 12 games but was suspended four games for PED use. He played in just one game lsat season before suffering a pectoral injury that placed him on IR. He then tested positive again for a performance-enhancing drug, resulting in a 10-game suspension that bleeds over into 2018 for two more games, wherever he winds up.