LRG is more than a label: RIP Jonas Bevacqua
Jonas Bevacqua passed away suddenly in his home yesterday, leaving behind a son, a wife to be, seven siblings, and his parents, according to a message posted on LRG’s website. He was only 33.
I’d like to write poetically about him, but I didn’t know him. All I know are the LRG (Lifted Research Group) brand he co-founded and the references to his genius sprawled across the web. The most convincing evidence to the quality of his vision and influence is illustrated, in his own words, in an interview posted by Hypebeast less than a month ago.
Rock it because you fucking feel like it. All I’m saying is I think kids follow blogs like a religion. Go atheist for a bit. I don’t think blogs are bad, I just think kids let them influence them too much and they lose their identity in the process.
Some might consider it ironic that I’m using my blog to honor a Bevacqua quote that encourages thinking outside the blog, so to speak, but the impact of those words resonates beyond the initial context of fashion. I absolutely agree with the notion that urban fashion has become confined to controlled groups and categories of style, filled with mindless consumers adhering to the rules of a paper-thin preference.
Wait. I took the scenic route with that last sentence. The idea is as follows: Don’t wear something because a blogger selected it for you, or because you resent the other end of the style spectrum; wear it because, like Bevacqua said, “you fucking feel like it.”
It’s that forced separation that fuels conformity, the idea that people are being different only for the sake of being different while ending up the same.
LRG is our way of rebelling and doing things our way. I think the punkest shit ever is creative freedom. To be able to do what you want, whenever you want and not answer to anyone.
Rest peacefully, Jonas Bevacqua. My sincerest condolences to his loved ones, friends, and family, immediate and extended.
My formal introduction to the Lifted Research Group’s clothing came in the summer of 2001. I had a passing knowledge of LRG through advertisements in hip-hop magazines I’d read, but hadn’t actively sought their clothing.
At the time, I was 17 and fresh out of high school, working my first job ever at a Park Slope animal hospital while enjoying a little bit of freedom. How’s that for a teenager’s foolish perspective? My allergies to animal dander worsened my asthma and irritated my eyes while I hauled in only $7 an hour — and I was delaying higher education for that experience.
It’s not all bad, though. A XXL magazine photographer, whose name sadly escapes me, lived near where my co-workers and I walked dogs three times a day. My good friend and co-worker Edgar, with the prominent ‘fro, commanded attention. By chance, the photographer approached him to ask if he’d participate in a photo shoot for XXL magazine, and if he could secure two regular-sized friends who’d like to join him.
I’ve never been regular-sized, but I was close enough to it then. And insecurities be damned, this chubby high school football player was about to be a male model in a national magazine.
We used our lunch break the next day for the shoot. She pulled three outfits from her trunk and let us change in her home.
Edgar grabbed the Damani Dada velour short suit, which looks immensely dated a decade later; Thomas, another co-worker, liked how the DrunkNMunky hooded sweatshirt matched his Timberlands; and it worked out for me, because I wanted to wear the LRG outfit anyway. I typically prefer dark colors, and I really like when they’re contrasted against red.
I was just stumped as to why I was given an LRG pullover and an LRG t-shirt. It’d be impossible to show both simultaneously. Either way, I probably would have been more comfortable if the clothes were sized up one, but everything fit and no one was telling me different.
The pictures hit stands with XXL’s Oct. 2001 issue, honoring 2Pac on the cover five years after his death.
My 15 minutes in XXL ticked away quickly. I was cool with that. But I came away with an appreciation for LRG’s pioneering efforts in streetwear.
They began as a clothing line that wanted to be a clothing line, while promoting an independent, self-starter lifestyle. I buy their items, not only because of my anti-establishment leanings, but because I like to believe the intentions behind the business model are genuine and pure.
Sean John and Rocawear have found places in my closet, but I drifted away because they were profit-driven endeavors spearheaded by music moguls who wanted their hands in everything urban. I respect the business acumen, but the clothes don’t always speak to me. And I didn’t like thinking my apparel was an endorsement of an entire movement.
While LRG has expanded into various fields through the last 12 years, that Bevacqua interview on Hypebeast leaves no doubt in my mind that the company’s focus is still very much on keeping rhythm with the street’s pulse.
LRG’s sweatshirts and denim are still top notch, despite their most recognizable and popular contribution to streetwear arriving with the “Dead Serious” full-zip, skeleton hoodies in 2006. If only the darker denim would stop bleeding onto my kicks.
Once you’re tainted by experience or education you definitely lose that innocence and maybe start over-thinking or over-analyzing shit. Always go with your gut feeling. That’s something I’ve always done even when everyone told me it’s not a good idea, I still went with my gut feeling. The key is to learn not just from mistakes, but also learn from your successes.