Thursday, 26 May 2011

Luta: Brazilian Fight Club

I’ve never been a fan of boxing (I don’t understand the point/attraction of trying to beat someone to a pulp), but I am a fan of Luke Dowdney. In 1995 he was British Universities Light-Middleweight boxing champion and five years later founded Fight for Peace in Rio, an international not-for-profit organisation that aims to bring young people out of poverty, crime, drug dealing and armed violence through boxing, martial arts and education. In 2004, Luke was awarded an MBE by the Queen for “services to the prevention of child exploitation and violence in Brazil”. His latest project is LUTA, a fashion label which gives half of its profits to Fight for Peace, and last week, it launched here in the UK.

LUTA, which means "fight" in Portuguese, is inspired by Rio’s favelas, and it looks good. The collection ranges from technical clothing (for boxing and martial arts) to more fashion-led, streetwear pieces. I particularly like the graphic T-shirts (pictured below). The LUTA logo was inspired by “pixação”, a form of graffiti art native to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Apparently, many pixação artists compete to paint their designs in the highest and most inaccessible buildings by free climbing or abseiling. Brazilian artists Os Gêmeos are inspired by the technique.

LUTA is an impressive business model, too, with a great transactional website that shows off the product perfectly, provides detailed “frequently asked questions” (which covers everything from sourcing to delivery) and links to its social networking pages and blog. Its first UK stockist is King’s Road Sporting Club in London.
Like so many young entrepreneurs I’ve written about that link Brazil to the UK, Luke does so with a business model that goes beyond personal profits. One of the first posts I wrote was about the Luciana, a handbag created by a Brazilian women’s collective for the charity Bottletop, run by Cameron Saul, the son of the founder of luxury brand Mulberry. My most recent post on FB Collection showed the importance of sustainability behind this Brazilian-British brand. And pretty much every student or young businessman who contacts me for help on projects are concerned with social or environmental issues in Brazil.
Are you involved with any social or environmental projects that link Brazil to the UK, or vice versa? Or do you know of any? I’d love to hear about them.

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