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The Story, and Designer, Behind Taylor Swift’s No. 87 Red Puffer Jacket

SportThe Story, and Designer, Behind Taylor Swift’s No. 87 Red Puffer Jacket

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers had a bye during the opening round of the playoffs, but that didn’t mean Kyle Juszczyk had the weekend off.

The team’s fullback went into action after his wife, Kristin, managed to meld three massive newsmakers — Taylor Swift, the NFL and the winter storms that were walloping the nation — when Swift confidently strode into Kansas City’s frozen Arrowhead Stadium wearing a jacket Kristin had made.

Swift and her legion of followers wield tremendous influence and can make social media sites convulse. And her long, red puffer — adorned with the No. 87 of her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce — did just that.

For the Juszczyks, it was the equivalent of a five-touchdown day. They’d learned the singer-songwriter planned to wear the jacket but they weren’t sure. Kyle said they were watching on television from their San Jose home on Saturday afternoon when cameras caught Swift, protected by the jacket and a white beanie, getting out of a golf cart before the Chiefs’ wild-card playoff game against the Miami Dolphins got underway.

“Happiness, appreciation,” he said of their reaction. “Just so stoked for (Kristin) because I know how hard she worked, how hard she grinded. To see Taylor wearing it — and it looked incredible — it was awesome. We were so happy in our house.”

After that, Kyle became part hype man, part PR representative, part internet watchdog. He fielded calls and texts from media members eager for the puffer scoop. And he scoured social media, making sure Kristin got credit for the instantly famous jacket. At one point, the NBC announcers quipped that Swift is so famous she could merely call up Nike and have them whip up a custom-made jacket.

“It was like, ‘Argh, come on!’ We’ve got to let these people know it was all Kristin,” said Kyle, who noted that the network later corrected the error.

Since Swift’s stroll into the stadium, Kristin has gained more than 450,000 followers on Instagram. Kyle also described a tidal wave of media attention, so much that Kristin opted not to do any interviews this week. They’ve heard from every outlet from Vogue, which struck Kristin, to ESPN, which was important to Kyle.

“Adam Schefter doesn’t ring any huge bells with her,” he said. “I had to explain: This is a big deal in the football world. And that was one of the cooler things to come of this — it merged two different worlds. The football world was interested in it, the fashion world, the Swifties. They all came together and 99.9 percent of it was really positive. So I was really happy to see that.”

The wind chill temperature was minus-27 degrees in Kansas City on Saturday, and yet Swift managed to radiate when she arrived at the stadium, thanks in part to her bespoke puffer.

It’s why Kristin began designing game-day attire. When she and Kyle first started dating 10 years ago, she realized that supporting your football-player boyfriend meant dressing like everyone else in the stadium. The standard fan uniform was, well, uniform. So she began cutting up Kyle’s No. 44 jerseys and fashioning them into something more stylish — a corset top or miniskirt for an early September game, a puffer coat for the playoffs. The theme: red zone meets the red carpet.


Kristin Juszczyk joined her husband, 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas last year. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Her designs got a boost in November when she sent a pair of white, Patrick Mahomes-themed pants to Brittany Mahomes, the wife of the Chiefs quarterback. That’s who passed along the coat that Swift wore on Sunday.

In December, gymnast Simone Biles wore a green vest that Kristin refashioned from the jersey of Biles’ husband, Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens. No word on whether the vest will reappear at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday when Owens and the Packers take on the 49ers.

Kristin also approached 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, one of Kyle’s more fashion-forward teammates, about wearing one of her designs. According to Samuel, her initial idea was to make Samuel a jacket with his own number on it, which he declined.

“I said, ‘If you make me a (Brock) Purdy one, I’ll wear that,’” he said.

So she did, fashioning a vest that not only included Purdy’s No. 13 but also had “MVP” emblazoned in several spots. Samuel said he got the vest earlier in the season but he chose to wear it the week after Purdy’s four-interception outing against the Baltimore Ravens, a show of confidence in his quarterback.

The past weekend, meanwhile, turned out to be a double-Taylor-whammy for Kristin. While she was in the process of making puffers for Swift and Brittany Mahomes, actor and Michigan native Taylor Lautner reached out and asked for a Detroit Lions-themed jacket he could wear at Detroit’s playoff opener.

Her creations usually are accompanied by a short video she posts to her Instagram or TikTok accounts. They feature a few snips of her shears, some stitching and — voila! — the garment is complete. The clips last a few seconds and often end with the celebrity rocking the outfit. The one about Lautner’s jacket ends with him excitedly opening the package like a kid tearing into a Nintendo box on Christmas morning.

The breezy videos don’t capture the toil involved. Kyle said he’ll awaken at 3 or 4  a.m. some mornings to find that his wife isn’t in bed but is downstairs working on one of her projects. Getting Lautner his jacket, which incorporates the jersey of Lions pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, also was an adventure.

Kristin overnighted the jacket via FedEx, but the package got delayed in Memphis, Tenn., due to the same storms that had blasted Kansas City. Kyle said Kristin managed to get a hold of someone high in the chain at FedEx, who told them “it was their mission to get that package to (Lautner).”

(In another merging of worlds, FedEx founder and chairman Fred Smith is the father of former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, and FedEx’s president and CEO is Arthur’s older brother, Richard. Kyle confirmed they spoke with a member of the Smith family.)

“They sent a truck to go pick it up in Memphis,” Kyle continued. “The truck broke down. They sent another truck. And then they literally delivered to (Lautner) on the sideline.”

All of which begs the question: Who will be the next celebrity to rock one of Kristin’s jersey designs? Kyle wouldn’t say if there were any other surprises in store during the playoffs, although his backfield mate, Christian McCaffrey, revealed that a design for his fiancee, Olivia Culpo, is in the works. That would be another terrific boost — Culpo, after all, is a model and former Miss Universe winner with 5.3 million Instagram followers.

Still, it’ll be hard to top Swift, who has 279 million Instagram followers and the sway of a queen.

“It’s crazy,” Kyle said. “Crazy how powerful one person is.”

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(Top photo of Taylor Swift: Ed Zurga / Associated Press)


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