For Ben Weiner, owner of Jeanius Jackets (@jeaniusjackets on Instagram), prominent figures in professional sports wearing his designs isn’t new. After all, his custom, handcrafted creations have been donned by Nick Foligno, the David Krejci family, and members of the Celtics organization over the past two years. However, Henderson’s Military Appreciation Knight jacket marks a major milestone: his first collaboration with a professional sports team.
It’s also a natural next step for someone whose life and career have been so focused on hockey.
“I have been playing hockey myself since I can remember,” Weiner said. “I started skating when I was three years old, my life has always kind of revolved around it. I went to a ton of Boston University hockey games growing up because my mom was a professor there, and I just love the sport. It’s always been my life.”
Weiner played four seasons at the University of Maryland, moving to the blue line after playing center through high school. As a defenseman, he finished with 24 career points (7G, 17A) in his time there. He also served as the team’s captain for the 2017-18 season, his final year with the team.
“I wasn’t just on the hockey team there,” he added. “In my senior year I designed all of our uniforms that we wore. Our university reached out and said that we had to change the logo on the jerseys. It was great, because I was already in the process of designing an alternate red jersey for us to wear that fall. Then they told us that we couldn’t wear our old jerseys, so I ultimately designed a set for the team.”
It was his first venture into the world of hockey design, and it was a smashing success.
“I got to work with my dad designing those, which was obviously really meaningful,” Weiner said. “And it was obviously incredible to wear something I’d created on the ice. But the project was more than just that. The team couldn’t pay for two new sets, so I started a fundraiser to pay for the jerseys. We wanted to sell 100 jerseys in order to buy our own team’s sets – 20 home and 20 away for each of us. We ended up selling 300 jerseys. It really gave me a sense that I could design a jersey that people are going to want to buy.”
After college, Weiner stepped away from sports to work in social media and content creation for a tech company in Boston, an experience that helped develop a lot of his design skills. But Weiner knew that he wanted to come back to his passion: hockey.
“I first started sewing in late December of 2020 into 2021, during the pandemic. That’s really where the story really begins,” he said. “I started making custom jerseys first through Sports Stitches by Ben, and then started moving into jackets. That started with a friend asking if I could make a couple of custom jackets, and it’s really taken on a life of its own.”
The Silver Knights’ Military Appreciation jacket is themed around the Space Force, the U.S. military’s newest branch, to match the specialty jersey that the team will wear on Friday’s game. Weiner wanted to center the design of the military jerseys while also featuring the brand and imagery of the Silver Knights franchise.
The jersey, designed by Austin Zima, incorporates multiple design elements that highlight both the mission of the Space Force and the local connection to the Las Vegas Valley. For example, the star at the top of the crest represents Polaris, symbolizing the values that guide the Space Force mission. It mirrors the eight-pointed star over the Valley, also seen on both Knights jerseys and the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign. Even the silver border around the crest was carefully chosen, representing not only the Silver Knights, but also the protection the Space Force provides, surrounded by the black stripe of deep space.
Getting to work with that unique design was a privilege for Weiner.
“The crest was just next-level. I loved getting to work with all the elements – not just Space Force, but centering the state of Nevada, too,” Weiner said. “It was so cool that the star in orbit was over Vegas and Henderson, I loved the details. The crest design is just so gorgeous and on-brand, and it was so unique to honor the Space Force, too. To be able to stitch that in-house and create something spectacular myself was just incredible.”
“I try to make these jackets unique and showcase the teams as much as possible. And these ones feel very ‘one of one.’ The silver really pops and made it so eye-catching. That’s what I had in mind going into it, how can we bring that metallic into it, because it’s such a big part of the franchise. It’s synonymous with the Knights as a team.”
The Military Appreciation jacket will be auctioned off during Friday’s game to benefit the Folded Flag Foundation, which supports the families of veterans who have given their lives in defense of our nation, and the HSK Foundation. For Weiner, this is the latest of several custom jackets and jersey projects raising money for worthwhile causes.
Jeanius Jacket and Sports Stitches creations have raised money for Movember in fall 2022, the Boston Fire Department Relief Fund in 2023, and treatment for childhood brain cancer, also in 2023.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be able to contribute to charity and play a small part in raising money for a great cause,” he said. “It means a lot to have the jackets be a part of something wider and something greater, for sure.”
The jacket will be auctioned between 5:45 p.m. PT and 9 p.m. PT on November 17. Fans can bid at http://hskmilitary.givesmart.com or by texting “HSKMILITARY” to 76278.