Soriano | Contributing Photographer

Sophia D’Amico and Natalie Mafrici started cusejacketz this semester to sell custom-decorated apparel through Instagram.

If you asked a Syracuse University student what makes a perfect tailgate, the answers are probably quite consistent: the perfect weather, a show stopping game in the Carrier Dome and of course, the fashion.

There is no better way to show that you bleed orange than cut-off T-shirts, white chucks and jean skirts — the typical go-to attire for the occasion. But with the bar always raised high, Natalie Mafrici, a sophomore economics major, and Sophia D’Amico, a undeclared freshman in the College of Art and Sciences, have created the latest way to innovate tailgate style — and it all starts with denim.

cusejacketz — which launched on Instagram just a few weeks ago — was created by the duo to spur a new trend of tailgate fashion. Specializing in custom-painted attire, cuzejacketz was born when their combined artistic skills came together to create designs on practically anything, denim jackets being the most popular request.

The idea emerged last fall, the height of tailgating season. With what sometimes feels like a “competition” to stand out, the girls wanted a way to be different with their tailgate style. With admiration for SU fashion, the girls needed a way to express their passion for being creative with orange and blue apparel.

“I just remember thinking ‘everyone looks so good,” D’Amico said. “We wanted to find a way to stand out.”

With the unpredictable weather in Syracuse, they wanted to create something that can be worn when typical tailgate attire would be unsuitable, especially when the temperatures drop in the fall months.

“In Syracuse you are going to wear a T-shirt and cover it up when you tailgate in the colder months. There is not a market for statement jackets for college merchandise,” Mafrici said.

They began to search for denim in their own closets and got creative by painting the back with different colors, designs and logos. Just from sporting their personalized jackets to a few events, the compliments started to pour in. Among friends and strangers, their jackets were a hit. The twos realized that their expertise could start a major trend on campus, as well as make some cash. So cusejacketz began, becoming the small social media business already getting dozens custom commission requests.

“We have done over 20 jackets so far,” Mafrici said. “Now we are working on creating different designs.”


Camille Soriano | Contributing Photographer

The finished product of the paint jobs varies in style, but with SU pride always in mind. Otto the Orange, Kanye West’s signature “The Life of Pablo” printed letters and logos like “Bleed Orange” in dripped paint produce statement-making designs. They even get crafty with other materials, inventively using an old SU lanyard for patches and lining.

“I really dig the Pablo print,” said Shonni Velasquez, a senior psychology major who came across their designs. “That is something that is trendy right now.”

A lot of hard work and time goes into making these custom designs last for years to come.

“We prime it, put two coats of white, multiple layers, wait for it dry, heat set it and add another layer on top for protection,” Mafrici said with a winded laugh.

“The first jackets, it was all a learning process,” D’Amico said. “We would work on them together, spending hours doing them. But with time, we have gotten faster at it.”

With Instagram as their main source of promotion and communication, from the first direct message, the girls take each customer step-by-step to create ideas for a personalized jacket.

“We try and post a lot of different designs so they can pick and say what they want,” said D’Amico. “So we help them along but they kind of make it themselves.”

Although denim is what sparked this endeavor, the pair is looking to expand beyond just jackets. With an inquiry just the other day to paint on a pair of shorts and a bomber, they want to expand beyond the denim. Since it’s getting warmer, they’re exploring the idea of flannels — perfect to tie around your waist.

At the end of the day, the girls are just thrilled that people are interested in their designs and it’s certainly becoming more than just a project. With new inspiration each day, these girls are just getting started.

But like they said on their Instagram, “Get them before we become bored with this.”