CT fashion designer helps fire-ravaged Cheshire pizzeria

COVID has affected many businesses financially, and Milford resident Mike Loudon is using his social media platform – and his love for fashion – to help shine a light on those struggling.

“Working in the beverage industry for 12 years has helped me connect with a lot of businesses across the state. I thought to myself, ‘Well, a lot of businesses are struggling to stay open, so why not start posting videos about my favorite places, discovering new places and raising awareness?” Loudon said.

Loudon started as a brand ambassador at MillerCoors (now MolsonCoors), then worked for Bacardi USA and currently works as a sales manager at Heineken. Visiting local sites inspired him to create “Twenty Deuce TV”, a social media channel, where he posts video reviews of local restaurants and bars.

He was planning to revisit Fuoco Coal Fired Apizza, which opened in Cheshire in 2020, when a fire broke out at the restaurant in late December. The fire caused “structural damage” and “extensive smoke and water damage”, said fire chief Jack Casner, and it was forced to close temporarily.

Firefighters respond to a fire at Fuoco Apizza in Cheshire, Connecticut December 28, 2021

Cheshire Volunteer Fire Service / Photo Added

The pizzeria created a gofundme page to help pay for repairs, but Loudon said he felt his platform would help raise awareness and awareness. “I’ve never been there, but I wanted to do some fundraising on my own to help them reopen,” Loudon said.

Loudon has made it his mission to help Fuoco by using his clothing brand “Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.” In February, he is set to release t-shirts with an 80s design inspired by Keith Haring that will signify unity within the pizza community in Connecticut. The t-shirt will feature two characters holding a heart-shaped pizza inspired by New Haven Pizza. Proceeds from shirt sales will be donated to Fuoco (the restaurant was not immediately available for comment).

“It’s not the first time I’ve made shirts for a cause,” he said. In 2020, Loudon created a black t-shirt with the names of some of the pizza places Connecticut is known for (Bar, colony grill, Modern, Pepe’s, by Sally and by Zuppardi) and donated all the money raised to the Connecticut Food Bank. The shirts sold so well that he reissued them a second time; he raised about $3,000 in total with these shirts.

Loudon said much of his inspiration for these fundraising pieces came from 90s and 2000s streetwear and art. Celebrities like the Connecticut rapper Chris Webby, WWE Superstars Becky Lynch, Finn Balor and Dakota Kai and former Yankee and current Met second baseman Robinson Cano all donned “Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.”

Each October, the clothing brand also raises funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by selling its “Boobie Bear” hoodie and t-shirt. The design is inspired by Ralph Lauren’s polo bear, Loudon says, and it “models” different collections from his brand.

“Many of my family members have had breast cancer. I do this every year in their honor,” Loudon said, adding that he made a donation to Susan G. Coleman and the Smileow Cancer Hospital wing of Yale New Haven Hospital.

Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.'s

Twenty Deuce Clothing Co. “Boobie Bear” designed by Connecticut graphic designer Duane Planes

Contributed by Duane Planes

This summer, he plans to launch the “Twenty Deuce Foundation” to support youth athletics in Connecticut.

“As the child of a single parent and looking [my mom] hard work to support my love for sports, I wanted to start a scholarship fund to help kids achieve their dreams,” he said.

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