The final days of Detroit Bar are approaching and while there's an expectation of live music and celebratory farewells, the battle against sex slavery doesn't immediately come to mind. Sound is a budding clothing line created by local skate boarders Jordan Lovelis and Chris Weigele, who aspire to combat human trafficking through music, art, and skate boarding. Their February 26 show at Detroit Bar features Santa Barbara synth-rockers Fmlybnd, local dance outfit Tapioca and the Flea, and folk rockers Reverend Baron. Snagging one of the last dates at Detroit Bar means more than a night of music and selling merch for the burgeoning company, it's a run at raising funds for their humanitarian efforts in India.
Lovelis and Weigele started Sound to spread their message through an effort they call the Sound Movement. Phase one of the movement targets young men in India who are at risk of participating in the prostitution of young girls, and the co-founders aim to reach them through skate boarding. Lovelis shares that the philosophy behind Sound Movement is simple, eliminate the demand and eliminate the supply. By educating and informing young men about the consequences of sexual slavery, they hope to impact their choices and heighten their respect for women.
When Lovelis first traveled to India as a sponsored skateboarder in 2010, he had no motives other than taking in a new country and participating in skate demos. When he found himself in the trenches of Garstin Bastion Street–one of New Delhi's most sinister locations for prostitution–he had an experience that would change his life forever. A little boy roughly ten years of age approached Lovelis, asking him graphic questions about his preference in young girls. Startled and horrified, he had an epiphany.
"I was only 19 at the time," Lovelis says. "We were walking and this little boy came up to me and started pointing at girls and asking 'Which one do you want, which one do you want?' He was so young, and looking back he was probably working for his Dad. He went on to say really obscene, graphic things about specific options and ethnicities for girls. It was $3 for anything I wanted. I just kind of broke at that point. That was the moment I realized I had to do something. I witnessed it with my own eyes, and couldn't walk away like I hadn't."
Lovelis and Weigele's venture involves them in a cause that affects over 27 million people worldwide. The choice of going with a product-based approach in lieu of forming a non-profit organization stemmed from their desire to provide goods in exchange for funds raised. Lovelis promises continual transparency for Sound's finances, and states that all profit is going directly to the cause. He further explains that while they're not the first company to try to affect a cause through branding, they believe Sound offers relevancy in the clothing industry. Creating a cause-based clothing line that's fashion forward will ideally create awareness by staying current, and in turn reach young people.
Production for the line was originally scheduled to take place in New Delhi, through a distributor called Open Hands. They chose the distributor due to the life altering opportunities offered to women, including job training and day care. After samples came back to Lovelis and Weigele that weren't up to their standards, they redirected their production to a distributor in the U.S. "There's no way we're giving up on that relationship," Lovelis says of Open Hands. "It will happen eventually, but they just weren't ready for us. We're going state made for now, but we're definitely going back to them. We're just giving them a little time to develop."
Open Hands will be a priority for Lovelis during his March trip to India, which finds him traveling alongside Weigele, three ramp builders, two interns, a photographer and a filmmaker–all of whom raised funding for their travels independently. Their plans include distribution of hygiene products, outreach to locals, and renovations to India's only indoor skate park, owned by Steve Weightman, founder of the rehabilitation house known Courage Homes. Establishing a brand that impacts a global cause is daunting, and Lovelis admits there are times when he feels overwhelmed. Yet the twenty-three-year-old maintains that the pressure he sometimes feels is trumped by a burning need to address the issue, and Sound is his vehicle to change the world one young life at a time. And while the task is of gigantic proportions, he firmly stands by his choices.
"There are plenty of times when I've wanted to throw in the towel. There's times when I'm exhausted and wonder how I'm ever going to make a difference. But at the end of the day if I don't do something about it then who will," says Lovelis. "If we can't influence people then how will we ever achieve change?"
Sound Movement at Detroit Bar featuring FMLY Band, Tapioca and the Flea, and Reverend Baron, 843 W 19th St, Costa Mesa 92627; www.detroitbar.com. Weds, 8:00 p.m., 21+. For more info on Sound Movement visit facebook.com/thesoundmvmnt