It’s not everyday a company pops up in your backyard and takes over the scene. In this case, Lifted Research Group (commonly known as LRG) is the exception. Started in 1999 by Co-Creators Jonas Bevacqua and Robert Wright, the apparel brand is now on the verge of celebrating twenty years in the game.
Bevacqua was a young DJ and designed prints early on from his garage in Santa Ana, while Wright was an established face in the fashion industry. In just a short few years, the duo helped put the company and Orange County streetwear on the map.
“Both were inspired by Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, and especially Polo by Ralph Lauren,” said LRG’s Content Manager. “In the hip-hop community, these apparel lines were something people aspired to have. They looked fresh but it wasn’t anything that was made for that community. Now LRG came along with these fashion techniques and styles to bridge that (gap).”
The business started out modestly, making one seasonal look, which sold out instantly. While cultivating this grass-roots movement, artists from the hip-hop world began to take notice and the brand recognition took off.
“The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Visionaries, Living Legends, Dilated Peoples, Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan and more. This was in the mid 2000’s during the golden era of back packer hip-hop. Now we’re in this conscious, elevated vibe right here, which was underground hip-hop,” said an LRG spokesperson.
The brand began to expand and opened its headquarters in Irvine. Bevacqua become the face of the company as Creative Director, with his trademark looks and entrepreneurial mind. Flashy jewelry played the part and he was seen as a tastemaker in the fashion industry.
The LRG mission statement is ‘Underground Inventive, Overground Effective,’ with an emphasis in supporting underground artists.
“We’re trying to put the spotlight where we think it really belongs, because it is much more than clothing and concepts. It is a way of living. LRG, innovative essence for the above-average person,” the brand states.
Some of the names dawning LRG gear early on in their careers reaching major label success include Kanye West and Big Sean.
“Everything ties back to our tree logo. We plant the seed in nature and see its growth,” LRG explained. “The second phase of the company is when they reached national status. They had video game placement, collaborations with companies like T-Mobile’s ‘Sidekick’ phone and Suzuki motorcycles.
The apparel brand has done a quality job of mindful creativity and encompassing that into its ethos.
LRG released mixtapes for up-and-coming artists and represented the culture, supporting local artists and creating its own skateboard team for their community.
Sadly, in 2011, Jonas passed away suddenly in his sleep at the age of 34. “His passing affected the company tremendously. Not only was he our co-founder but also the creative director and visionary for LRG. Bevacqua was a trendsetter and far ahead of his time, he was an inspiration and father figure,” said a spokesperson.
With 2019 on the horizon and a fashion milestone, the forward-thinking brand have big plans in the works.
“Going into our 20th year, we have a lot of rad collaborations in store. We want to keep the legacy alive for Jonas,” said LRG’s Marketing Coordinator. “We continue to honor Jonas by spreading his messages throughout the world. One of our most profound messages is ‘Unity Through Diversity.'”
“A lot of brands don’t go 20 years. A lot of brands show up and they’re hot as fuck but then they’re done in a year. We want to make a statement,” a spokesperson said. “We have something really big, get ready!”
Where did the acronym for this forward thinking brand originate? It’s actually a well thought out concept.
“Lifted is a sense of vision, it’s seeing above everybody. Being above the crowd, that’s a big thing, the giraffe (logo) has always played a part of. The giraffe is the animal with the biggest heart and sees above all,” the Marketing Coordinator informed. “Research is the study and design of our culture, and Group is the collective of individuals who support and inspire the brand.”
Even the company’s logos have deeper meanings. From the roots symbolizes creation of where ideas first take hold, to the tree itself showing strength and capabilities. The cycle logo that is often used around the tree represents constant renewal, evolution, growth, and change. Lastly, 1947 and 47 were included as a tribute to Jonas’ mom, her age when she pushed Bevacqua to pursue his dreams.
With a long history in the music and fashion world, is LRG influencing street culture today in 2018?
“We definitely influence a lot of our competition, they take our formulas,” LRG stated. “We want to be creative and always a step ahead.”
Their latest campaigns are “Feeding The Streets” and “Respect All Cultures.” You can find these billboards across the country in key cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Detroit.
Stay on the lookout for new projects dropping soon and special 20-year anniversary releases in the near future. For all things lifted visit l-r-g.com.
Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and streetwear. Tips & pitches: firstname.lastname@example.org