|Bernard Hart (CEO & Chairman)|
Lonsdale is a boxing, mixed martial arts and clothing brand that was founded in London, England in 1960. Ex-boxer Bernard Hart started the brand as a boxing equipment company, but it eventually branched out into clothing as well. The company is named after Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale, who in 1891 set up the first organised boxing matches with gloves, following the deaths of three boxers in bare-knuckle fights. It is now owned by Sports Direct.
In 1959, former professional welterweight boxer Bernard Hart was granted permission to use the Lonsdale name by James Lowther, 7th Earl of Lonsdale. In 1960, business commenced for the brand at 21 Beak St., Soho, London.
Lonsdale became ingrained into 1960s popular fashion due to its location near Carnaby Street. Celebrities who publicly wore the brand included Paul McCartney, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and Tony Curtis. In 1979, mod revival icon Paul Weller visited the store and bought Lonsdale T-shirts to wear on a tour of Japan, which led to an increase in sales for the brand in both the UK and Asia.
In the 1990s, Lonsdale expanded to new markets in Europe, and by 1998, the brand had expanded to Australia. As of 2002, it became an acquisition of Sports Direct.
In the early 2000s, Lonsdale clothing became popular among some European neo-Nazis, allegedly because a carefully placed outer jacket leaves only the letters NSDA showing; one letter short of NSDAP, the acronym for Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the German name of the Nazi Party. Wearing a brand with no Nazi links in order to express Nazi sympathies helped bypass strict laws concerning the public display of Nazi symbolism. In the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, Spain and Germany, the term Lonsdale youth became widely used to describe teenagers with far right tendencies, and the brand was banned from certain schools in the Netherlands and Germany .
Lonsdale reacted to this trend by sponsoring anti-racist events and campaigns, and by refusing to deliver products to known neo-Nazi retailers. In 2003, the "Lonsdale Loves All Colours" campaign was launched, emphasizing non-white fashion models, along with increased support for initiatives that combat racism.
During the 2005-06 English football season, Lonsdale was the kit provider for Blackburn Rovers Football Club. In 2006, Lonsdale stores opened in Singapore, Taiwan and other parts of Asia. As of 2007[update], a division of Lonsdale produces football kits for Brentford, Swindon Town and Millwall. In 2008, Lonsdale were the official clothing suppliers to the Sydney Roosters Rugby League club in Australia.
On 25 March 2010, Lonsdale celebrated the 50th anniversary of the brand by holding the Lonsdale Challenge at the Liberty Boxing Gym in Nottingham, England. The event featured Lonsdale-sponsored boxers Carl Froch, James DeGale and Tony Jeffries in various boxing-related challenges.
The following fighters have worn Lonsdale clothing during bouts:
- Bernard Hart - Boxer Box Rec. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- Asthana, Anushka (9 April 2005). "Neo-Nazi teenagers fight in British boxing's No 1 brand". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Cleaver, Hannah (22 February 2001). "German Nazis' dress code angers British firm". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- Paterson, Tony (22 March 2006). "Lonsdale faces ban over 'neo-Nazi associations'". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2009-08-13.
- "Thor Steinar and the Changing Look of the German Far Right". Spiegel OnlinePENE. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- "Branded youths". Daily News. 7 February 2005. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Happy 50th Birthday Lonsdale URN. Retrieved 2010-05-10
- "BAMMA announced renewed partnership with Lonsdale". fullmount.co.uk. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-07-14.