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How State & Liberty and James van Riemsdyk are changing the NHL fashion game

Giana Han, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Fashion Daily News

PHILADELPHIA — Eight years ago, State & Liberty was selling dress shirts out of the trunk of a car. Now, it outfits more than 60% of the NHL, including almost all of James van Riemsdyk's Flyers teammates.

Lee Moffie, State & Liberty's founder, grew up in the same hockey circuit as van Riemsdyk. With Moffie playing in Connecticut and van Riemsdyk playing in New Jersey, the two knew of each other growing up. Eventually, they both signed with the same agency and became friendly.

While van Riemsdyk's NHL career took off, the younger Moffie played four years at the University of Michigan before trying to establish a professional career. As Moffie bounced between the AHL and ECHL and van Riemsdyk moved from the Flyers to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the two stayed in touch.

In 2014, Moffie checked in with more than just a hockey update. He had an idea he wanted to share. Inspired by his experiences trying to find suits for away games, Moffie wanted to create dress clothes better suited for athletes. He'd always had trouble finding suits that fit him off the rack and was getting frustrated with having to take them to a tailor. Even worse, he and some of his teammates were accidentally destroying suits that didn't fit right.

"Two main things that stick out to me are guys just blowing right through the seat of their pants on road trips, like, all the time," Moffie said. "And then one thing I didn't even know about is a lot of finance guys that wear a dress shirt at a desk blow right through the elbows of their dress shirts."

Inspired by Lululemon and Hugo Boss, Moffie found a way to create a more comfortable, better-fitted shirt. Van Riemsdyk was intrigued. He, too, knew the horror stories that came with ill-fitted suits. So many fellow athletes had trouble with dress shirts (normal shirts were too narrow in the shoulders, wider shirts were too boxy in the waist) and the tighter styles of dress pants.


Luckily for Moffie, his idea came at the perfect stage in van Riemsdyk's life. In his sixth NHL season and his third season as a Maple Leaf, van Riemsdyk was starting to invest in companies and brands. Pushed by some of his fashionable Maple Leaf teammates like Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf, van Riemsdyk found his fashion sense was also starting to evolve.

"I went there having maybe two or three suits," said van Riemsdyk, now 33. "When I left Toronto ... between all the new ones from now, all the different colors I have from here, I probably have maybe 50 or so. So [I've] definitely gotten super into it."

Van Riemsdyk wasn't just sold on the product. He also thought Moffie would be a good person to support because he trusted his work ethic. Moffie proved him right.

Traveling salesman


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