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Lauren Robinson

Upcycling Old Training Gear

Hi, my name is Lolo, and I am the creator behind Rematch Upcycled Gis. I have been training jiujitsu for many years now, but when I first started at the age of 22, I did not have the money to afford a new gi. I just had the white gi that came with the membership when I signed up.

This gi was used for every practice and every competition. It shortly turned grey, and I would often miss practice because I did not have the money to wash it at the coin laundry every time I wanted to go to class. I soon became embarrassed of the gi and did not feel as confident on the mat, thinking that I was the poor stinky kid. Over time, I received several hand-me-down gis from friends and even a few new ones from Kekoa. I had a stack in my closet of barely worn gis that most people who have trained for a while also have. However, we still just wear our favorite 3.

Empowering Students In Need

The idea behind this nonprofit came about when I was training one day at Sunset Jiujitsu on the North Shore and had a flashback to an old familiar feeling. There were a few new students running around in warm-ups in their everyday clothes.

No gi. No uniform. It made me think about how intimidating it was to not only show up for class but how it felt to not have the proper attire to feel confident on the mat. My wheels started to turn, and thus came about the idea behind Rematch.

Repurposing Neglected Kimonos

I decided to take the stack of gis just collecting dust in my closet and give them a new look by re-dying them as well as sew new patches on them. The idea was to make a “new” gi that someone would be proud to wear. Not just a standard hand-me-down gi. I wanted to instill confidence in whomever wore it.

I then donated these gis to gyms to give to their students that they thought could use a freshie but maybe could not afford one or to use as rental gis for new students. I also would sell some of the gis too so that when you looked on the mat you could not tell who was given a gi and who bought a gi. I remember how it felt to be stamped the poor kid with Joe Shmo’s old gi and how awesome others looked when they rolled in with the coolest and latest new gi.

Global Impact, Local Roots

Soon my friends in the community and their friends and other gi companies began to donate the stacks of gis they had collecting dust. Today I have donated and sold gis all around the world from Mexico, Japan, England, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, and many more. My dream for Rematch is to continue to make gis to give back to a community that has given to me so much over the years in hopes that the ones that come after me can benefit as much as I have, if not more.