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.” 

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Charles Leno dubbed Bears' best-kept secret

Chicago Bears left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. deserves a lot of credit. After starting his career as a seventh-round pick and something of a longshot to ever earn a starting job, he's become an irreplaceable fixture at the most important position along the offensive line.

The four-year, $38 million contract extension he signed last offseason is evidence of that.

Despite his value to the Bears, Leno is still somewhat underrated across league circles. That may be about to change.

Leno was recently named Chicago's best-kept secret.

Leno has consistently improved as a pass protector since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2014 and is now one of the team's top 10 players. If he hit the open market, Leno might be a $60 million player with the way the offensive line market is exploding. Over the next four years, the Bears should save about $20 million on the market price for their starting-caliber left tackle.

Leno has enjoyed steady improvement since his rookie season. His grades from Pro Football Focus reflect that: 53.6 (2014), 56.3 (2015), 71.2 (2016) and 80.4 (2017). 

The Bears' offensive line is poised for a big season in 2018. Leno and Bobby Massie are back as starters at tackle. Rookie second-round pick James Daniels will pair with Kyle Long at guard and third-year pro, Cody Whitehair, will get back to focusing on being the team's starting center.

If Leno's trend of improved play continues, he's a great candidate to go from best-kept secret to league star in 2018.