MMA Fashion Beat: Tokyo Five

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Charles Jebara wanted to do more than just change a few graphics and color schemes on shirts, shorts and jeans when he launched Tokyo Five. The fashion entrepreneur wanted to bring style to fight fans when he launched his American work wear and samurai-inspired brand last year.

“Tokyo Five isn’t for the 12 or 14-year-old who would buy anything with a fight-related logo, it’s for the guy who appreciates style and higher end products,” Jebara said.

Several MMA brands market shirts where the focus is on the graphic compromises the structure of the piece, but Jebara’s goal is to create clothes that can be worn on the streets and gym while competing with established fashion brands in terms of structure, detail and quality.

For instance, the stitching and labels are hand sewn and visuals are usually kept to a minimum in Tokyo Five products. Japanese iconography, such as text and samurai war scenes, does come to play in all aspects of the products. There are even hidden details and prints like old school Jiu Jitsu instructions written inside the shirt as well.

Tokyo Five also doesn’t use blanks for their shirts, a process MMA brands and mass-retailers use to create multiple designs for less money. The shirts in its collection will cost about $40 to $60 and jeans range from $70 to $110.

The shorts in the athletic line are fitted at waist, but loose in legs to create room. “The way the gym shorts are designed allow room for movement without losing your shorts, which is something gym wear pieces made from designers lack,” NYC based fitness expert and personal trainer Jen Cassetty, said. “Designer gym shorts focus too much on the fashion aspect and less on the functionality. If I were a dude, I would buy it [Tokyo Five].”

For weary MMA fans who are accustomed to the “in your face” graphics from existing MMA brands, the Tokyo Five Website has a “Style Guide.” It features all of its products with detailed information about the cut, wash, and fit so can be better informed about what they’re buying.

And unlike many MMA brands, which often rely on the popularity of a fighter in the ring to encourage fans to buy their products, Tokyo Five took a queue from iconic American brands American Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombie and Fitch even short-lived Ruehl No.925, and created a pseudo-history to give depth to itself and offer new life in the fight world.

Their Hanya logo is taken directly from a Japanese samurai mask dating back to Feudal Japan and represents Bushido: bravery, honor, loyalty, respect, and wisdom. Bas Rutten is featured in videos on the company’s website searching for ways to unlock wise samurai secrets, which reinforces and furthers Tokyo Five’s brand story.

The story is spreading, as Matt Serra, Gabriel Gonzaga, Renzo Gracie and others have been seen wearing Tokyo Five gear at fights and media appearances. “Tokyo Five clothing is comfortable, affordable, and high quality. With their focus on Bushido elements of the samurai,” endorsed fighter Phillipe Nover said, “I feel proud to wear it.”

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