Continuing my series of blog posts where I introduce new fightwear companies and showcase some of their products.
iMMACULATE are a UK based fightwear range that describe themselves as 'much more than just another fight-wear company.' I chatted to iMMACULATE owner Miad Najafi, a brown belt BJJ instructor under Alliance BJJ about his new company and what he hopes to achieve with the brand.
MEERKATSU: Why did you select Dale as an artist on your Mastery t-shirt (above)? Does he train MMA himself or you just like his style?
MIAD NAJAFI: Dale Grimshaw was shortlisted very early on in my research for art and artists. He has a work that is coincidently called "8 of Swords". Straight away I loved the work and his style, and thought it had a dynamic, powerful and organic character about it, so I contacted him and he was keen to do a piece. It cost me a lot of money, but I am very pleased with the final work. I think he has dabbled in some martial arts, but not MMA or BJJ specifically.
Q: Will there be any other artworks from him or other artists?
A: Chris Greaves was also commissioned for some work and he did the artwork for both Pride and Prowess designs. I would love to use them both for future designs and collections.
Q: MMA involves hitting people to hurt them - explain why you think it needs a more 'positive' image? And indeed how would you argue against the notion that any sport that involves hitting people to hurt them always be viewed (by those who do not train in the sport) as anything other than 'thuggish' and 'excessive aggression'?
A: Well, thats a very good question, certainly MMA can be a violent sport, and I am not in denial of the very real and physical facets of the sport. But being a fighter is much more than just hurting people, there is an art and a science that is learnt and and implemented with the ultimate aim of mastery of ones opponent.
I felt that most brands on the market focussed on the obvious aggressive aspect of combat sport, and didn't relay the commitment, knowledge, control, finesse and physical prowess needed to compete at a high level. In fact I felt many MMA clothing brands perpetuated the myth that MMA is a some kind of tough man contest which it certainly isn't! You can't be just a regular tough guy and compete in combat sports at a decent level, anyone who thinks so, will come unstuck pretty quickly!
Generally, I have tried to avoid eastern terminology, but to summarise there is a Ying and Yang (no Seymour Yang pun intended) element to fighting and I want to relay that to the fan base.
Q: Do you have/plan to sponsor any fighters, if so who?
A: Certainly we will be sponsoring fighters, but it would have to be someone who fits in with the deeper ideals of iMMACULATE as a brand.
Q: Where can I buy your products?
A: We have only launched in December 2011, and are working on getting a stronger presence on the High Street, we have a few outlets stocking iMMACULATE, but much, much more to come! Buying online is your best option www.immaculateclothing.com, we are also offering FREE Worldwide Shipping for the rest of January, so get your orders in!
Q: do you see your brand appealing to non-MMA audience?
A: Absolutely, Its vital that our designs are appealing to people outside of MMA. Initial comments have been extremely positive, not just from people within the combat sports industry, but also by people who work in fashion and media. iMMACULATE is casual wear that's inspired by combat sports, they are almost too nice to be worn to simply train in! Its great hearing that fighters, fans and martial artists like the garments enough to wear them out for dinner with their partners or to a bar etc. Thats exactly what I set out to create!
Q: What plans do you have for iMMACULATE for the future?
A: There are many ideas being thrown around, everyone has an opinion of where I can take iMMACULATE long term. But at present its all about getting the products and brand message out there, I want as many people as possible seeing iMMACULATE garments in the "flesh" to really get an idea of the quality, fit and feel of the products. Naturally the brand will mature and evolve with time, but long term I am aiming high and intend for iMMACULATE to be the brand that really captured the combat sports athletes character, while at the same time creating beautiful designs. Ideally, iMMACULATE will be an international brand with a solid presence in MMA and other combat sports.
Q: Your t-shirts are a little dearer than most MMA t-shirts - why is this specifically?
A: A lot of work has been put into the designs, artwork and branding, even to the point of getting measurements from combat sports practitioners to create a genuinely made to measure fit. I've set out to create a premium brand, and that certainly has its price. Many T-shirts are being sold within the industry priced around £25-£30, often its no more than a bog standard T shirt with a poor print job, I don't feel that iMMACULATE products are particularly more expensive. Again, I am sure that when customers see the garments in hand, they will appreciate the work thats gone into them, and they will certainly get what they pay for!
FURTHER INFORMATION: Check out the Immaculate Facebook Page for updates.
DISCOUNT CODE: meerkatsu2012 for 15% off webstore price, currently FREE shipping is also available.