When I went up to visit New Breed BJJ, I had the chance to sit down with Nick Mitria, the owner of Subculture. You’ve probably seen his gis at every single tournament and in every single gym in the Chicago area.
I really wanted to interview Nick because I think that I am the only person at my academy who doesn’t own a Subculture gi. Thankfully, he had a while to sit down for an interview. Thanks again Nick!
BJJinChicago (BJJiC): Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us Nick. Tell me a bit about your start with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Nick Mitria (NM): I always played sports in high school. Mark Vives and his brother Myles (both New Breed Black Belts now) are old friends of mine. Around 2003-2004, I saw Stephan Bonnar on the Ultimate Fighter and decided to go into Carlson’s. First, I started doing only nogi. Mark kept telling me to train with the gi. About two weeks after I started training with the gi, I was rolling with this small purple belt girl and she put me in an omoplata. I thought I could get out of it and ended up tearing my shoulder (her name is Valerie Worthington, and she’s now a black belt). After that, I was hooked.
BJJiC : Tell me a bit about Subculture and how it all got started.
NM: I was training with Carlson and bought a brand new Atama gi. Back then they were the best of the best. Right away, a seam ripped in the shoulder. I called Atama to replace the gi and they asked me if I had washed it. I was honest and told them I had and they told me they wouldn’t be replacing my gi. Since I had washed it, I was screwed.
I thought, it can’t be that hard to make a gi, right? (For anybody wondering, yes, it is that hard.) I thought I could just travel to where I wanted the gi’s to be made, and get the ball rolling. I had a buddy in the marines who told me point blank, there is no way the U.S. is going to let you travel to all these places right now. Still, I travelled all over the planet, made contacts, and got the first prototype (against everybody’s advice). Honestly, the first prototype would make you laugh if you saw it today.
Clark Gracie representing Subculture at the IBJJF Chicago Open
BJJiC : Give us some info on your latest line of gear. What about the new lightweight gi with the ripstop pants?
NM: Let’s face it, gis are fashionable now. People want to look cool, but every company is charging upwards for $200 for their gis. And that’s simply because of the growth of the sport. We try to price competitively, but I think there’s a fine line between selling a product and taking advantage of the general public.
Comprido representing Subculture at the European Open
I try to keep an eye on whats out there. We came out with a blue lightweight gi with silver stitching and it did fairly well. Honestly, I never expected that our new lightweight gi would do as well as it has. It’s sort of evolved on its own.
The new white lightweight gi in action.
BJJiC : What is next for Subculture? Any big plans in the works?
NM: Right now we have a Camouflage gi and a Pink gi for women in the works.
We’ll be releasting a new lightweight gi w/ ripstop pants around November in time for the big holiday tournaments. This thing is going to be amazing. I can’t give any details on it right now, but I’ll give you an exclusive look at it here at BJJinChicago.com before anybody else.
[I honestly tried to get Nick to give me details about the new gi for about 20 minutes and he didn’t budge. Guess we’ll all have to wait.]
BJJiC : Yes!!! You guys have a great website, but where can people purchase Subculture gis other than the website?
NM: You can buy our gis and other gear at knockout MMA in Gurnee, FightStop, and lots of other Chicago area fight shops and stores.
BJJiC : Huge thanks to Nick Mitria of Subculture!! Thanks for the interview, for sponsoring so many local competitors and contributing to so much to the Chicago BJJ scene!
All photos courtesy of (i.e. shamelessly borrowed from) Subculture, Nick Mitria, and New Breed BJJ.