Earlier this month, four current and former players from the U.S. national women’s soccer team—including star midfielder Megan Rapinoe—launched a lifestyle brand. But unlike most celebrity athletes, the company won’t be selling clothing emblazoned with their names or signatures. Neither the new business’s name, Re—inc, nor its branding, reference the women behind it at all.
That was a deliberate decision, according to Eddie Opara, a partner at the graphic design firm Pentagram. Opara created the brand identity and logo for Re—inc. The brand isn’t about their names, but about their philosophy as players and people who embrace inclusivity and gender-neutral design.
That’s why the brand’s most prominent feature is a backward “e,” which is used in a custom typeface that Pentagram designer Raoul Gottschling created for Re—inc. By putting the most commonly used letter in the alphabet backward, the designers aim to illustrate that Re—inc’s products are focused on challenging convention, just as its founders have.
“We are four World Cup champions whose time on the [U.S. Women’s National Team] has taught us how to fight,” the brand’s website reads. “For greatness. For our identities. For our own value. We exist to boldly reimagine the status quo—championing equity, creativity, progress, and art.”
That ethos is apparent in the company’s apparel, all of which will be completely gender-neutral. So far, the athletes—Rapinoe, Christen Press, Meghan Klingenberg, and Tobin Heath—have launched the company selling two gender-neutral T-shirts (each dubbed a “re-tee”) emblazoned with the words “Liberté, égalité, défendez.” All of the “e’s” are backward. It’s a clever, subtle way to identify the brand without ever needing a glaring logo.
Re—inc’s nonbinary brand puts the soccer stars within a broader movement toward creating inclusive clothes and products, one that even the biggest fashion companies in the world are starting to join. It also nods to the athletes’ struggle to be treated the same as the male soccer stars in the United States. In March 2019, the U.S. national women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. soccer, charging that the federation that employs them and governs American soccer in general pays them far less than their male counterparts—even though the women’s team wins more games and is, on a whole, far more successful than the men’s national team based on the sheer number of world championships they’ve won.
“[They] are not just selling wares because of who [they] are and because [they’re] a status symbol,” Opara says. “It’s because of what [they’ve] gone through and what [they’ve] seen others going through.”