The upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics turned a Salmon Arm man’s musings about sportswear design into distinctive jackets and T-shirts.
Manny Christjansen has been breakdancing for years, loving the creativity and athleticism. He’s not alone.
In 2024, breakdancing – or breaking, will be making its debut in the Olympics with competitions for both men and women, part of a push to appeal to younger athletes.
“I like the freedom in the dance, there’s lots of personality in it. If you really like doing flips and acting and personality, you can put that into the dance. It’s a very technical dance so once you practise enough, it kind of feels like it’s a video game. There’s always the next stage up,” he said.
“Your music changes and you’re able to enjoy the challenge of it and the competitiveness of the dance.”
Christjansen has been designing sportswear in his head for a long time, but when the Olympics announcement was made, he knew it was time for him to develop a windbreaker – or spin jacket. He knew breakdancers would like it.
“I’ve been looking for a spin jacket for a while, but there really isn’t anything. I decided to develop mine.”
He said his is the world’s first spin jacket; it has slippery material on the high back to aid in spinning.
Along with being a sport Christjansen knows well, breakdance is one that huge companies like Adidas or Nike aren’t involved in, he said. He likes the idea of sponsoring it so it can be supported locally.
The spin jacket has lots of details specific to breakdance. The main difference, he said, is the tough airflow mesh on the high back where breakdancers do most of their spinning.
There’s mesh on the inside, too, with anti-bacterial material that helps air go through and keeps the breaker from getting too hot and stinky, he said. Also, if the breaker is sweaty, the jacket won’t stick to the floor.
“You will still be able to execute the move you do even if you’re drenched in sweat, which happens quite often.”
The jacket is cuffed, so it doesn’t fall over the hands, protecting against slipping.
The zipper only goes halfway down the front so it doesn’t get caught or scratch the floor.
The jacket comes with a hood that can be tightened up to protect the head if a breaker is doing windmills or head spins.
Christjansen said he knew of a manufacturer in Pakistan so he sent his prototype to them and they did a few testers. Now they make the jacket.
“It works really good. I have videos of people doing it and they spin very nicely.”
Christjansen knows people who are going to be in the Olympics, so he gave them jackets to try out. He said he has patented the design and his company was a sponsor for the Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver about two weeks ago.
He’s been in contact with Team Ireland and Team Canada to see if they would use them.
Lululemon has the contract for the street gear and opening ceremonies, he said, but not for the actual events.
However, there is a legal process. It has to be determined that his Breakela Pro-Spin jackets aren’t too much of an advantage so the competitions are fair, he said.
Christjansen adds they can be used by anyone and there are about a million breakdancers around the world who aren’t pro.
“The jackets look really good, so they’re also geared to the street apparel.”
His website is Breakela.com.
Christjansen still teaches breakdancing at public and private schools in Samon Arm, Vernon and Kamloops, although it’s been tougher during the pandemic.
While he says support for breakdancing at the Olympics is split about 50/50, he’s for it.
“I’m excited about it… I feel it should be, it’s part of the growth of the dance. If it’s not growing it’s going to die, and it has died twice already…”
He said it will be seen more as a sport when it’s in the Olympics.
“People who are able to do it and take it to the extreme levels, then they are actually able to get paid. It’s not just a dead end.”
While it’s a male-dominated sport, he said it’s getting bigger for women. A girl from Vancouver won a silver in the Junior Olympics and he thinks she will represent Canada in 2024.
Christjansen said Korea will probably be the country to beat.
“They’re very, very good. Russia is too. Name the country and it’s there.”
Christjansen’s Breakela logo is the shape of a flower to represent the beauty of dance.
It’s explained like this: “The Breakela logo represents a cypher, meaning a circle of Breakers, each bgirl and bboy has a chance to enter the middle of the circle and show off their moves. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been dancing, how experienced or talented you are, where you come from, or what you look like, because everyone is equal and everyone shares a love of breaking and the need to express themselves in the forum.”
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