denimbro Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Denimbro > Interviews
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Christophe Loiron of Mister Freedom
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Christophe Loiron of Mister Freedom

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
Author
Message
 Rating: Topic Rating: 1 Votes, Average 5.00  Topic Search Topic Search  Topic Options Topic Options
mr randal View Drop Down
retired
retired
Avatar
jacket bitch

Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 27798
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote mr randal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Christophe Loiron of Mister Freedom
    Posted: 27 Oct 2012 at 10:41pm
Back to Top
mr randal View Drop Down
retired
retired
Avatar
jacket bitch

Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 27798
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote mr randal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2012 at 11:19am

Christophe Loiron, the brain behind the Mister Freedom x Sugar Cane line of clothing, has been interviewed numerous times. Many of the  main details of Christophe's life have already been covered in some of the interviews posted on the Mister Freedom site on the Press page. This interview attempts to delve into unknown territory and discuss some truly denim-geek details of his process and philosophy.

 The new images posted here of Christophe Loiron and his companions were shot by Cory Piehowicz at the beginning of October in the Santa Monica mountains. Vintage photos provided by M. Loiron.




MR: I've read that you chose the name "Mister Freedom" for your clothing line after seeing a promotional pamphlet for the 1969 William Klein movie of the same name, prior to seeing that movie. Klein's "Mr. Freedom" is a 1960s pop-drenched farce in which a thuggish, simplistic American super-hero goes to France to save the French from the threat of Chinese communism. His main opponents in the film are the FAF- the French Anti-Freedom organization, who seemed to be a spoof of the anti-war movement of the late '60s. What did you think of the movie when you finally saw it?


CL: What appealed to me at the time, besides the actual meaning of the words, were the graphics and color combinations, very kitschy Americana colors. Stars and Stripes, red white & blue… It reminded me of the Military surplus stores that carried all kinds of US imports (used and new), quite popular in France when I was a kid.

The political content of that satirical movie was not relevant to me at the time. It took me a few attempts to actually watch it to the end credits. Not my preferred type of cinema, as I would rather watch serious documentaries than parodies to get educated politically.

 Klein was a part of this 1960’s anti-establishment movement, denouncing the ‘making War in order to keep Peace’ that seemed to be happening against People’s will. He moved from the US to France where it seems he felt more at home then. There were some major left wing anti-government uprisings in France in 1968, known as “Mai ‘68”.

All this background is not related to me choosing the name ‘Mister Freedom’ as my DBA, nor is that movie part of my motion picture recommendations.





                                                    Stills from William Klein's Mr. Freedom, 1969


MR: There was a "Mr Freedom" store in London from 1969 to 1972 which produced garments heavily influenced by the wardrobe of Klein's movie- tight, low cut tops and high cut bottoms in op art colors, cartoon-screened Ts, & body-hugging overalls for women, the briefest of briefs and shrunken tank tops for men. These clothes, along with the wardrobe for Klein's "Mr. Freedom", are almost the exact antithesis of the MFSC (Mister Freedom Sugar Cane) line of clothing. Klein used exaggeratedly of-the-moment, garish, flimsy-appearing and sexually provocative clothing for his film, while the MFSC line is durable and timeless, though always rooted in some indelible moment from the past. Has the great difference in aesthetics between the '60s mister freedom and the MFSC line ever given you pause?


CL: Another thing I wasn’t aware of at the time I picked that name. This fashion episode has been very well documented in a 2012 book called “Mr. Freedom - Tommy Roberts, British Design Hero” by Paul Gorman.

 Funnily enough, I had found an original piece with that “Mr. Freedom” label in a Belgium thrift store, around 2004. An original 1970’s orange jump suit with Pop patches. I bought it for a few Euros, and it is on display here in the store.

 As one will notice, not exactly a source of inspiration for ‘my’ humble Mister Freedom® collections, quite night and day indeed. I respect the creativity behind Tommy Roberts innovative pop costumes, but they stay more ‘club wear’ and Rock Star fashion than anything I can relate to. His creations are a reflection of the Swinging London of the time. Nothing I could wear, personally. What I do is a bit more historically involved, and way less provocative.


MR: Have you ever considered making a tongue in cheek MFSC item which references the 1960s "Mr. Freedom" aesthetic?


CL: The closest I’d wish to get to the movie wardrobe would be an Evel Knievel kind of story, and I’ll even leave that to others to exploit! It’s the kind of clothes that are better left to the original wearer. Like Zorro’s outfit, it looked great on Don Diego de la Vega, but not necessarily something you’d wear at your local farmer’s market, even an interpretation of it. That ‘super hero’ look is hard to pull off ;-)

 However, the combination red/white/blue/stars/stripes has had a visual appeal to me very early on.

 Take a mix bag of early US political memorabilia, the Union Pacific logo, original Harlem Globe Trotters gear, early US Olympic Team track suits, Naval uniforms, Peter Fonda ‘Captain America’ jacket, bicentennial graphics etc… There is something genius in all of that. On a purely aesthetic level, the American Flag is one of the most accomplished works of graphic design, aside any considerations of what it represents.

 It might translate into wearables for MFSC one of these days.



                                           M. Loiron (front) and his brother in the 1970s. 


Edited by mr randal - 28 Oct 2012 at 4:10pm
Back to Top
bandit View Drop Down
whiskered
whiskered
Avatar
callously undone

Joined: 16 Jan 2012
Location: Ohio
Status: Offline
Points: 6378
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote bandit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2012 at 9:57pm











www.banditphotographer.com
Back to Top
mr randal View Drop Down
retired
retired
Avatar
jacket bitch

Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 27798
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (5) Thanks(5)   Quote mr randal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2012 at 10:01pm

MR: MFSC releases have a particular historic theme which usually runs for several seasons. This theme is usually comprehensive, with every item from that collection tying directly into it. There is usually a narrative you have created, complete with characters and specific places or events. Your fans seem to get quite into the stories you tell, and speculate on future themes. Do your fans ever approach you and offer suggestions or wishes for thematic narratives?


CL: Yes, people always have opinions. We all hear the ‘you know what you should do’, whatever activity we partake in. I tend to not listen, even to sound advice. Not because of a silly ego trip, nor because other’s ideas are not valid, but because I want to make sure that I do what I like. Once you start listening to opinions or suggestions, then you are subject to do things for the sake of pleasing people. And it gets impossible to take risks anymore, because you start thinking too much about consequences. Are people going to like this? Is this collection going to sink the ship?

 Should that happen, I’ll blame the Captain, not the ship’s crew or the ocean.

 But people rewrite the stories anyways. They make it work for them, mix and match so it works with who they are and what they do.

I see how MFSC stuff gets customized, altered, tailored or personified and think it’s great. In that sense, the stories are more like short scenarios than finished short films.

Once you read them, it’s up to you to come up with a good film. I’m blessed that guys into mfsc have good taste and are not fashion victims.


MR: The three previous themes for MFSC  have been (i am simplifying here) WWII era naval uniform,  1950s motorcycle apparel, and 1930s French gangster attire. The most recent theme is American frontier clothing of the late 1800s. You probably have had many items from the eras of your first three themes circulate through your store and have handled them extensively, but items from the 1800s are presumably much more scarce. Did this affect the design process for the current season?


CL: Tapping into older themes is both more challenging and less limiting at the same time. Imagination is a fun tool to use in these days of googling galore and info OD. The quest for something is often more thrilling than its discovery to me.

Old photos still offer plenty inspiration, however. Some ‘heritage’ brands need to find the perfect vintage piece so they can duplicate it, just adjusting the fit.

 I have more of a ‘Frankenstein’ approach (this doesn’t sound too good does it!) To me, free falling is more fun that board diving, as you’re not exactly sure where you’ll land.

 I prefer to get a fabric swatch from a late 1800s apron or coat lining, a collar shape from an old illustration, a silhouette from a mental picture, a button type from a jar filled with a vintage mix, a back pleat for a cotton jacket from a leather coat, pockets from a perso sketch, back strap from a prototype, a color combination from a woven plaid textile etc… As long as it makes sense to me, I don’t need to have seen or handled it before.

 So much has already been made throughout the years clothing wise, that even with this approach to ‘design’ you never reinvent the wheel anyways. Take a 1900’s tailor illustrated swatch book: you’ll often see pocket patterns that look so ‘futuristic’ and details you never associated with that period.





                                                                       Earlier incarnations of M. Loiron.


MR: In viewing photos of you in your earlier years in Los Angeles ('80s & early '90s) it looks like your style at that time could be called "rockabilly", a look back at the workwear/ sportswear/ western blend of '50s & early '60s American rock'n'rollers. This is an era/aesthetic which MFSC has conspicuously not touched, although the "Speed-Safe Clothing for Modern Riders" line of 2009/10 had some overlap. Have you intentionally chosen not to delve into your previous style or is this somewhere that MFSC might someday go?


CL: I got to making clothes from listening to and playing Rock’n’Roll, not from Fashion School. All the visuals from old photos, album covers or old movies are still very much a part of what influence me. I remember switching back and forth from gabardine flap pocket shirts and pleated slacks to white Ts and rolled up jeans, according to the mood, back then. There was this movement in the 90’s for the hard to find 50’s stuff, like diamond shirts, pink and black, Ricky Ricardo jackets etc… I was never into the collector thing personally, and dropped out of that flashy ‘stage’ clothes scene, while still digging the music. Much easier to have Elvis's shirt than his talent ;-)

 I also associated wearing those outfits with being a teenager, and that, I was no longer. They looked great on some folks, but were not for me anymore.

 I might tap into my musical background someday, but not the '50s Lansky Bros type rockabilly stuff. There are enough fine Japanese replicas of it available now anyways.

 I’m also very happy when I see cats and talented musicians in the scene wearing Mister Freedom stuff. That means a lot to me, some kind of ‘validation’.

My main regret is that I will never see my Dad in a pair of Californians…  


MR: Does Sugar Cane always manufacture all of the designs you produce for a given season of MFSC?


I have been blessed to get carte blanche from Mr. Kobayashi (the discreet legendary head of Toyo Enterprises) with each small collection. His main passions are Aloha Shirts, Flight Jackets and Souvenir Jackets. MFSC is a departure from all that, so he ‘lets it happen’ and trusts me. Nothing has been vetoed yet.

 During R&D however, some stuff gets dropped due to fabric issues, cost or deadlines. Each piece is so involved that I try to not waste time on ‘fillers’, focusing only on key garments that I would like to see made. I try to edit in my head a lot before I bother others.

We rarely do color options for a specific fabric, but often use a totally different fabric for a model. Sounds as easy, but in reality it gets very tricky and it’s not cost efficient.

I like to challenge that old saying ‘if it doesn’t exist, there’s a reason for it’. With the support of all the talented folks at Toyo Enterprises and MF® power team, things get done.


MR: Are there any particular designs you could mention that did not go into production?


CL: I will always regret that fine spandex jump suit that… No, not really, everything designed has gone into production. Some items, however, get made in very small quantities. For instance the ‘chemisettes Guinguette’’ from “Les Apaches” collection, the denim ‘Ramblers Pack’ from “Speed Safe”…


Back to Top
bandit View Drop Down
whiskered
whiskered
Avatar
callously undone

Joined: 16 Jan 2012
Location: Ohio
Status: Offline
Points: 6378
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote bandit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2012 at 10:28pm












Edited by bandit - 28 Oct 2012 at 10:41pm
www.banditphotographer.com
Back to Top
mr randal View Drop Down
retired
retired
Avatar
jacket bitch

Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 27798
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote mr randal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2012 at 10:41pm

MR: You collect some of the vintage hardware pieces used for MFSC garments and send them to sugar cane for production. Do you have any particularly interesting stock at the MF shop that you want to use but have not found the right garment to incorporate them into?


CL: We have shelves of vintage trims here. Some of it is for inspiration and prototypes, as using NOS (New Old Stock) parts for full production is often begging for trouble. With dead-stock, what you collect out hunting is ‘it’. No reordering on the phone. If you find 200 matching buttons from the 1920s in a French flea market, you’re happy. But you won’t go far with that. I remember the wild goose chase to get the glass buttons and strap buckles for the Apaches collection… and don’t get me started on scoring enough stripe blankets to make those Drover Blouses!

Using NOS sounds fine and dandy in a web post, but behind the scene it is very involved and risky.

 It gets easier with our smaller in-house MF® productions since we sometimes make only 15-20 pieces of an item.

 I am training myself to use what I have found, instead of going nuts sourcing out what I think I need before deadline.

 There is a nice stock of white naval ring buttons here, waiting for a body. Stock of Vietnam US military webbing, waiting for a bag. Buckles, straps, zippers… And a few thousand yards of old selvedge fabrics.


MR: The first several seasons of MFSC primarily used existent fabrics created by Sugar Cane for their running productions- several formulas of denim that they used for famous sugar cane jeans, jungle-cloth from SC USN deck jacket repros, etc. Over time, each season of MFSC seemed to incorporate more exclusive fabrics developed by Sugar Cane and milled exclusively for MFSC, until the current theme, Men of the Frontier, seems to be comprised almost entirely of exclusive, original materials. How has this move toward original materials come about?


CL: Backgrounds of the early MFSC stories were tapping into fields that Toyo was familiar with. USN, workwear etc… As I drifted off into unchartered territories, I felt that developing brand new fabrics was needed. Also, seeing many jump on that ‘Heritage’ band wagon made me want to do drift off the beaten path. Having access to Japanese mills that can make what you want is pretty tempting and highly addictive!

 

MR: Could you show us some photographic examples of vintage sourced material vs. Sugar Cane milled reproduction fabric that has been used for MFSC garments?


CL: Often times I combine several swatches, for color/texture/print/weight… Here are some pretty straight forward examples.



* 1930s outdoor coat, brown jungle cloth: This textile was the inspiration for the brown Mulholland Master, Speed Safe.



* 1930s-'40s French hunting canvas jacket, cotton/linen: was the inspiration for the Chaparral fabric, Men of the Frontier.



* 1900’s French military private purchase jodhpurs: was the inspiration for the fabric of the ‘veste & pantalon ouvrier’, Les Apaches.


MR: You make some MFSC items locally- are these produced in Sugar Cane's American affiliated facilities or have you personally forged new relationships with these manufacturers?


CL: Those factories produce garments for several Brands, not exclusively Toyo. They are in demand because of the quality they deliver, and are kept pretty secret.

 

MR: Are there limits to what types of items can be made by the MF contracted American facilities?


CL: The skills are there but sometimes machinery is limiting. Stitching specifications sometimes requires for a garment to be made in Japan. For instance, narrow width ‘caballo’ machines are not available for us in LA.

 The concept of productivity is also at times limiting with US factories. I like high stitch count (number of stitches per inch) as much as domestic factories hate it, because it takes much longer to complete a garment.

 Toyo factories in Japan understand 100% of the requirements and specs because they are used to the very demanding market of replicas and its commitment to authenticity. In Japan, the garment factory workers are often old timers who have been at it for 10-20 years.

 In the US, funnily enough, more gets ‘lost in translation’ somehow. There is more turn over in factories staff, which can lead to inconsistency in production.

 

MR: In the USA, MFSC garments are offered in raw condition only, whereas in Japan they are offered both as raw (as produced) and washed (distressed to reproduce a heavily worn condition). What is the ratio of Japanese vs. Western sales, and what is the ratio of raw vs. washed sales in Japan?


CL: About half of the production is for Japan, and half for MF to distribute.

 Japan has been plagued by the medias pushing that nasty ‘distressed’ look, as much as the rest of the world. Japan used to be all about raw rigid denim, but in the mid 2000s a demand for softer ‘worn-in’ new garments pushed most manufacturers to comply. Toyo was no exception. The purists still wouldn’t touch anything even factory rinsed, but the kids wanted the ‘instant gratification’ of the ‘vintage wash’…

 It’s getting better now, and both for aesthetic and environmental reasons, customers are turning away from those fake washes and are back to raw.

 I’ve done my share of preaching in that domain.


MR: Are there any specific naturally worn MFSC garments that customers have shown you that stand out in your memory?


CL: My friend ‘Cotton Duck’ was an early supporter of mfsc. Some of his gear is now looking pretty awesome from the photos I’ve come across…

 Also in the store here, I see guys coming in with their worn pair of jeans or jacket, and it makes me happy to see the way the garments turn when naturally worn in. The stuff looks vintage, just from daily wear.

 I get my morning coffee at Intelligentsia in Venice and some of the crew, past and present, mix up some MFSC in their wardrobe. It’s nice to see the wear built up and the evolution of the fading according to everyone’s daily tasks.

 I am lucky that most people wearing our stuff treat it the right way and the clothes end up with a killer natural patina, hand repairs etc... The guys wear it hard and are patient with the fading process, best recipe for getting your clothes to looks like they’re yours.


MR: You mentioned briefly in another interview having run a vintage clothing shop called Plastic Jesus in Kyoto. How did that come about?


CL: I was into a small business partnership in the mid 90’s. After amassing enough vintage, and as buying trips and doing wholesale in LA was getting a bit monotonous, we decided to take it all directly to the buyers. Japan was the only existing market for vintage back then. Too much competition in Tokyo, so we opened in Kyoto, his wife's home town. We alternated staying there and domestic buying trips, rotating every 2-3 months. It worked out because we barely saw each others for about 4 years. These were interesting times…



                                                         M. Loiron at Plastic Jesus ca. 1995.


MR: I understand that one of your earliest jobs in the US was as a distributor for the Coca-cola corporation?


CL: In 1990, my early immigrant days in California, I helped out a friend whose job it was to tear up burned down houses prior to reconstruction. We’d gut the places and dump the trash in a local Orange County land fill. The most glamorous part of this job were the land fill sessions, where I always took a few minutes to go scavenging (big no-no number 1.) I spotted an old Coca-Cola metal cooler one day, brought it home, stripped it and repainted it red with white lettering. I had the bright idea to fill it with ice and coke from the grocery store, load it on a wheel cart and… push it to a nearby on ramp of the 5 Freeway, all the way to the stop light (big no-no number 2.) I waited for hours, all dressed up in my usual rockabilly gabardine loud clothes, waiting in the blazing sun for a thirsty driver. Everyone made huge efforts to avoid making eye contact, all the while thinking 'what the…'

 I rolled out of there at the end of the day, with a cooler filled with warm water, four empty bottles I had downed and the full rest of the lot. I learned that people don’t drink and drive in California.

 I am not sure of what happened to that 50’s Coke cooler. But had I thought of taking it as-is to an antique dealer from the beginning, I might have come out all right. Without the sun stroke and maybe a few bucks in my Hollywood slacks pocket.

 To this day easy doesn’t cut it in how I do things, and i always seem to pick the high road. But I don’t drink Coca-Cola anymore.


MR: You've traveled a lot in your life, and have mentioned seeing the value in not putting down deep roots. Do you feel like Los Angeles may be your permanent home?


CL: I feel good here now and because I still travel I do not have an urge to move or start over somewhere else.

But my only permanent home will be a nice pine box, and I’m not sure where it will lay ;-)



-fin-




Edited by mr randal - 28 Oct 2012 at 10:54pm
Back to Top
badseed View Drop Down
whiskered
whiskered
Avatar

Joined: 29 Mar 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 4795
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote badseed Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Oct 2012 at 3:51pm
Great stuff Mr Randal,Bandit and MF
Haters Die!
Back to Top
Nonriveted View Drop Down
retired
retired
Avatar

Joined: 20 Jan 2012
Location: california
Status: Offline
Points: 9957
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Nonriveted Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Oct 2012 at 3:54pm
yes i second that, a very articulate and intelligent interview.....and amazing photos to accompany...
bravo Randal, Bandit and MF
Back to Top
flatpattern View Drop Down
whiskered
whiskered


Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 2246
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote flatpattern Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Oct 2012 at 4:27pm
I have a whole new respect for MF.  No wonder the garments are of such high quality.

I would love to see an Evil Kenevil/70s inspired collection from him.  His nods to Steve McQueen/motorcycling have been fantastic already.  Some of my favorites pieces of MF for sure.
Back to Top
indigoeagle View Drop Down
whiskered
whiskered


Joined: 13 Jun 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 1522
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote indigoeagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Oct 2012 at 12:58am

Thanks a lot for the great interview and pictures.

Another nice aspect to me is how older items are worn together with the newer stuff and how it all goes together very well. 

Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.188 seconds.