On a recent Thursday afternoon, Sheroid Evans is busy in the Division of Textiles and Apparel’s design room—his third home on campus after the football field and the gym. Keeping in line with his self-professed love for denim, the fifth-year football player and textiles and apparel major is dressed head-to-toe in casual-chic denim paired with white Air Jordan 1s, a large gold watch, a rhinestone chain spelling “Sheroid,” and gold earrings.
Evans maneuvers expertly around the crowded workroom, humming and singing to himself as he handles fabrics. There is an easy rapport between him and his mostly female peers, as they go from talking shop about stitches and patterns to gossiping about Beyonce’s new project. His phone rings—a teammate asking if he can go to the lake after practice. One of Evan’s fellow designers chuckles as he says words seldom heard in the sewing room: “Bro, wassup?”
Growing up in Sugar Land, Texas, Evans says his love for fashion was first sparked by his mother, who picked his outfits until he started middle school.
“My mom’s been a fashionista from the get-go,” he says.
In college, his teammates would often pay him to rip or distress their jeans and T-shirts for $20 per pair. When he discovered he could learn how to sew and actually make clothes in school, Evans was enthused.
“Ain’t nothing sweet about me,” he says. “I just like fashion.”
Evans exclusively designs menswear, and although he doesn’t follow the high fashion world closely, he says he draws inspiration from urban fashion icons like Kanye West and A$AP Rocky. This is evident in his personal designs and style, as he is “obsessed with distressed everything,” confessing that he probably doesn’t own a pair of jeans that he hasn’t ripped or acid-washed. His designs often incorporate these elements as well, as he is currently working on a distressed denim motorcycle jacket. Evans’ design for the 2016 Lexus Design challenge was a black linen shirt with zipper details in the front and back and ripped-out hems, and a pair of tailored black jeans consisting of multiple dark denim panels.
Due to injuries, Evans has never played a full season of football at UT. In addition to countless hamstring and shin issues and three surgeries on his right leg, he has torn his ACL twice. The second time around was last spring, when he had just finished rehab and was out on the field again. Not being able to play the final games of the season with his best friends hit hard.
“It carried some weight, man. It’s real emotional,” Evans says.
Evans will be finishing up his Textiles and Apparel degree in the fall as a sixth-year. He already earned a BS in youth and community studies last year, but decided to stay on for two more seasons to play football and pursue fashion design.
He worried about feeling isolated due to his age—he would be two years older than most of the seniors on the team.
“I was done, I was upset, I didn’t know if I wanted to come back and do a sixth year,” he says.
But then he got a pep talk from his high school hero—former UT defensive back and NFL player Aaron Ross, ’06. “I talked to Aaron Ross, and he’s my role model,” Evans says. “Growing up, I wanted to be just like him—do football, do track, excel at both.”
Ross told him about how he had do an extra two years of high school due to his GPA, and Sheroid was inspired to stay on.
“Hearing that from this guy I looked up to so much, it was like, age shouldn’t be an excuse.”
Although he acknowledges his chances of an NFL career are slim, Evans is motivated to finish his time at UT strong.
“Regardless if I’m going to be in the NFL, I want to know I’m playing my last game. I came this far,” says Evans.
Being a student-athlete comes with other challenges, however, as the combined workload of being a design student and a spring training schedule means he’s constantly playing catch-up. The day before our interview, he worked in the studio until midnight. Evans says his professors and coaches have been supportive.
“I would have to leave practice about 15, 20 minutes early, rush and take a shower, and go straight to class,” he says. “Even with that, I’d be 30 minutes late. I did that this whole spring, and [my professor] was very understanding about it. After that, I’d go home and catch up on my work,” Evans says, adding that he invested in a high-quality sewing machine so he can design at home as well. “I probably catch up for about two hours, and then take a shower and go to sleep and do it all over again the next day.”
If football doesn’t pan out, Evans envisions opening his own pop-up shop in the future. He hopes to purchase an Airstream trailer and travel the country selling revamped jeans. If the business takes off, he eventually wants to start a storefront and sell his designs.
“I’m trying to get the ball rolling, ’cause what if football doesn’t work out?” Evans says. “I pray it does, I pray that God is just testing my patience, but I’ve got something else going.”
Photos, from top: @sheroidevans on Instagram (2); Texas Athletics
Cary Michael Cox:
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