FREEDOM REIGNS in the fashion industryEntertainment Feature Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Think of everything you know about your typical men’s clothing line; such as the standard colors and designs we see on the shelves of our favorite department stores; now forget about it. Forget about the standard solid plain underwear and active wear that you’re used to and introduce yourself to Freedom Reigns; not your typical tighty whitties kind of brand.
The creation of Curtis Stallard, who was born in San Diego, as well as his partner Sam Castro, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, has taken inspiration from flags of leading nations and incorporated them into their line. They’ve done this so they can develop some killer eye-catching color combinations that set themselves apart from the competition.
Freedom Reigns started as a company producing graphic T-shirts, and grew into a collaboration that also included making underwear to coordinate with the T-shirts. That combination turned Freedom Reigns into a high-end sportswear company that produces briefs, T-shirts, tanks, jockstraps and even long-johns.
When speaking with these fashion nuts, it was clear that profit was not their top priority; instead, they feel as if they should help the country be stronger by providing the strongest, most positive phrase on their garments: “Made in the USA.” They also provide their clients with nothing more than the best of the best and have built a brand out of their name that exemplifies American quality fashion.
Fashion freaks that enjoy comfort and quality from a local designer can purchase Freedom Reigns clothing at Mankind, 3425 Fifth Ave. in San Diego.
Curtis Stallard: I see our designs as men’s athletic, trend setting underwear and activewear. We like to use the construction of each piece to emphasis and enhance the body. Our lines most distinctive features would have to be the exposed construction and its asymmetry.
Having the ability to see each stage of the manufacturing up close and in our factory, is a huge plus. You can be sure that one of us checks on the production every day; this couldn’t be done if our product was produced overseas. Of course, it is much harder to have your own factory and it is hugely more expensive in everything from labor and factory costs to actual material costs, but in the long run it makes a difference in our products and it is worth it. We both want to always be proud of who we are as people and the products we produce.
We’ve both always been interested in fashion and, while traveling throughout Europe a few years ago, we first designed graphic T-shirts, which were mildly successful. Then, we started designing underwear to coordinate with the graphics on the T-shirts. These were not very popular and we almost discontinued underwear all together. However, we decided to take a new angle for the company, one based on our heritage as a company. As all our products are proudly made in the USA, and both my partner and I are very athletic, we took the company to a more athletic American sportswear feel. This goes for all our products whether they are briefs, T-shirts, tanks, jockstraps or even long-johns.
Everywhere! If you’re in the fashion business you should never shut your eyes, except to sleep. Whether you are in the street, at the airport, on the beach, in the city or the country, you never stop seeing and feeling what is going on around you. Fashion is not for people who wear blinders throughout life.
Simple; traveling the world for “inspiration.” It’s awesome!
It’s extremely fast-paced. You finish a season and then you have to start on the next season immediately. It makes your life go by hyper-fast.
I think the trend of asymmetry that we started last year is catching on with other designers and should prove to be popular next season. Anything that is not Goth. I think the last nail is in the coffin for the gothic/tattoo printed T-shirts, à la Ed Hardy and Affliction. For us, Dry-fit and Olympic sport stripes are something that we will be using a lot of next season, both in underwear and activewear.
Not to stock items until you have sold the buyers on the samples; if not, you end up with hundreds of items that you might love but that buyers aren’t going to order.
Both of us have mostly Italian designer’s: D&G, Prada, Gucci with some ES Collection from Spain and Dsquared from Canada. I would have more American designers if they weren’t mostly made in China or Malaysia.
The streets of West Hollywood in L.A. are always a show. Sometimes you see someone and you think, “What were they thinking when they put their outfit together.” But, then you look it over again and it strikes something in you and you go, “Hmmm, great idea.” Sometimes, it’s the color combination and other times it will be the combination of items or both. Also, the Pan Pacific Park by the Grove is good for seeing athletes in action on the basketball courts and the football and soccer fields.
Try and find a mentor in the business, who can help be a soundboard for your creativity with tips for business. Fashion is artistry, but it is also industry and business. To succeed you need both the creative and business aspects together, not something most designers have a sense of. Except of course, the Ralph Lauren’s of the world.
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