Raijin Fightwear are a new UK based fightwear brand run by two chaps (LOZ and Gully) that have been heavily promoting themselves via social media and stickers. Yes, stickers. They're very passionate about this, as you'll find out in this exclusive interview with the founders...
Tell me about the brand; what your mission, style and aims are?
LOZ: Our mission is to bring more established and previously undiscovered street artists into the street wear fashion industry through martial arts inspired designs. There are many unknown individuals who have masses of talent but are not given the opportunity on a larger scale to get their artwork out. We are going to work with these artists to develop the brand and adapt their style to BJJ and MMA inspired designs.
Who are you?
LOZ: I'm LOZ, a Blue Belt under Braulio Estima, but I've been around this sport for over ten years. I travelled a lot through my work so because of this I would train, drill techniques with friends and then return to training to add more to my game. In 2008, however, I became very unwell and I stopped training completely. In 2011, after a lot of physio and recuperation I was contacted by my friend Braulio Estima on Twitter who asked if I'd like to try training again. I've been at Gracie Barra Birmingham since training under Braulio and his black belt Professor Nowak, who has helped me recover massively.
Who is this mystery person Gully Elusive?
Gully: I am co-founder and co-director of Raijin Fight Wear. I am a street artist based in Birmingham, UK. I'm self taught in graphic design/illustration and work closely with LOZ to develop the Raijin artworks and products.
Not all the designs are exclusively created by us, we do work with other artists, as a collective we come up with fresh concepts and ideas. I'm a huge fan of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA as well as martial arts in general. I've trained a number of styles over the years including BJJ, boxing, and Muay Thai. I'm currently out of training at the moment due to to a shoulder injury.
How does the street art scene view people who 'sell out' and offer their art on a more commercial basis?
LOZ: There are those that look at graffiti artists who go mainstream and say they are 'selling out' by using their skills to earn money and exhibiting their work in galleries. However I think you have to look at artists like Shepard Fairey who started Obey and despite having a massive brand he still goes out pasting and putting up art work which the street art and graffiti community appreciate and respect. Our aim is to keep that balance by staying active at events and supporting the community while building our brand.
Gully: Selling street art on a commercial basis doesn't necessarily make you a sellout as LOZ's reference to Obey points out. Banksy (still one of my favourite artists) often gets called a sellout but I think that's because the 'establishment' who seek to remove street art and graffiti (as they deem it vandalism) are now the very same people who try and preserve his work since they have realised its price, value and its popularity in modern culture. I personally have never sold a piece of my street art as I'm not in it for the money but that's not to say I wouldn't if people expressed an interest.
With Raijin we are not selling street art. We are selling BJJ/ MMA apparel with street art influenced designs as that's my style and background as well as mine and LOZ's interests. Both LOZ and I attend street art events and I put up pieces to get feedback on the Raijin designs before we go public and our stickers have turned up in some interesting places around the world, but you won't find the website on our Raijin slaps. In fact you won't even see the company name! We try and keep the integrity of street art and I think thats why we have been embraced by other local street artists.
What are your plans for the future? LOZ: Right now we are a small company starting out but as we grow our range will also. We will be bringing out some limited edition apparel which we hope the purists will get behind. We are also hoping to introduce some cross over designs which people who don't necessary train will appreciate. We have a lot of plans and our network is growing in the street art community so we hope we can bring something unique to this industry by welcoming exciting artists and designs to collaborate with us.
Gully: As well as creating street fashion crossover designs as LOZ mentions we are also hoping to release our first Gi at start of 2014. It has been in development for a while now but we've had to push the release date back due to other projects. In regards to designs, as well was the street artists, we are also working with other talented artists in different fields, such as tattoo art. Also we will look to incorporate our other interests into out style such as Manga/Anime and hip-hop music.
Any final comments guys?
Gully: We would like to thank Seymour for interviewing us and featuring Raijin Fight Wear on the Meerkatsu blog.
LOZ: Thank you so much for the opportunity and please take a look at our development over the past year on Instagram @Raijin_Fightwear.
For more on Raijin, visit their website and Facebook page.