Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Last Remaining Cowboy | Freedman's Clothing

Being greeted at the door of Matt Freedman was of no surprise for the older brother and face of Freedman's Clothing Randy Freedman was doing what few other brands attempt to do. Randy was on his way back from the children's hospital in downtown Los Angeles working with children on an art project which will be displayed this weekend at the the launch of their ready-to-wear line at Ron Robinson in Santa Monica. The launch and art exhibit which will include artwork by friends of Randy's including custom painted shirts and much more will be accompanies by Freedman's custom shop where you can get a made-to-measure shirt of your liking.

Hand painted shirt by Dave Dickey

But Randy didn't start out in the world of Design and Merchandising, in fact Randy didn't start out in Fashion at all. Randy was the guitar technician for Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, and many other musicians and fell into the fashion industry some years later. When he realized that he was wear a select few of his shirts that he had picked up over the years from vintage stores and thrift shops. Striking his curiosity as to what made those specific shirts so different than any others he sought out on his journey to recreate the perfect shirt. And I must testify that after trying one on there is no way I was going to take it off. From the fit to the detailing, Randy Freedman created a well fitted and beautiful piece of art.

The collection is built off two different fabrics (to start). A corduroy which comes in several different colors and wales (SPOILER ALERT: There is a beautiful pinch-pleat grid pattern introduced as well) and a denim in different shades of indigo. Beautiful snap buttons in assorted colors to complement the each shirt with 3 on the sleeve to create that western look but each shirt lacks the top button, yes the top button forcing you to relax and stop strangling yourself with ties and too tight collars. And from there each shirt is different whether there be the inclusion of a Navajo print detail or a contrast piping or even a contrast back yoke. Unfortunately due to their little knowledge of the ability of their manufacturing house to hand certain task their infamous rising sun back yoke was not included in this ready-to-wear line, but that will be remedies in the seasons to come.

But much of the vibe came from the showroom and workshop itself being that it was originally the house the Freedmans grew up in. Rather than your average showroom and workshop Freedman Clothing is houses in a 1960's style house built for entertain and filled with music and Grateful Dead memorabilia, rolls of fabric and racks of shirts. Other items include half a hand painted/carved surfboard made to look like the Freedman Clothing logo, embroidered pieces of Grateful Dead artwork and the word "CREATE" made from paper machete'd letters.

But when it comes to presentation, and if you know me -- or if you don't you will soon find out -- you know that I think, presentation is everything. You can have an amazing product but if you don't present it in the right way it will have no appeal. So that is why I was so attracted to the way Randy and Matt had displayed their product as shown below. Along with personal crates that each said Freedman on it or something to that point was Navajo blankets to match their Navajo detailing, a signed guitar by of course Ben Harper, and plethora of other trinkets that screamed out old West. Your attention was grabbed and you understood their inspiration in seconds. Merchandising at it's finest.

But the main reason I went to talk with Randy was to know everything I could about his custom shirts. So, Randy walked me through the process of getting a custom shirt made starting with the consultation. This is where the nitty gritty happens and you get to personalize the shirt. Having a plentiful amount of options to choose from lets start with fabric. The fabric is the most important part obviously and the different fabrics will create a different shirt. So you have the option of choosing from a denim/chambray of all different colors and weights, corduroy in different colors and wales, and flannels in a multitude of different plaid and plain colors. Then Randy will have you try on a ready-to-wear shirt depending on your size to see what from that needs or could be fixed to your liking. And once the sizing is done comes the small details like stitching (specifically chosen for it's strength), buttons (personally made for added strength) and anything else available like Navajo print ribbon to add the the placket on the cuff or the back yoke and/or the addition of the rising sun on the back yoke.
All the choices for custom details (loving that gingham under the table)

Once all that is done, sometime later Randy will call you back for either the final product fitting or a muslin fitting depending on how difficult the fit might be to get down. Randy then finished up the product by adding the cuffs and hemming the bottom of the shirt and within a few short weeks you will have yourself a custom shirt by Freedman Clothing. Now you might be thinking to yourself that this is way out of your price range, but I must say that for how often you will be buying an off the shelf shirt the approximately $250.00 is quite reasonable. But maybe that is a little expensive, well go this Saturday and pick yourself one up from Randy's Launch Party at Ron Robinson for $190.00 and up. My Brooks Brother shirt cost more than that and Randy's shirts fit me better than anything I have ever tried on.

Certified Americana: I would say so.


Blank Label said...

what a snazzy shirt!
power to hand-made and made-to-measure. the highest quality ever!