Building up Self-Confidence in people



When not particularly blessed with self confidence in young adult life, one needs to rely on a few good souls to build it back.
The few who will early on understand your hesitating and approximate work, encourage and support you, refrain from You-know-what-you-should-do you and rather let you be yourself, are the reason why you’ll keep going and do your thing.
They will make you thrive to do better, acknowledge your efforts, validate the long hours, justify and respect your choice of an often less travelled road.
An honest pat on the back on that road, at the right time, goes a long, long way.

The fine bunch below, from close friends to business acquaintances, is a non-exhaustive list.
But this appreciative small potato wanted to express it’s gratitude, late and in no particular order, to a few who come to mind today.

To early self-confidence builders who inspire one to keep doing it his way, I dedicate this post.


Kenny Thomas

Kenny Thomas GRAYERS Tate Thomas, another satisfied customer ©Kenny Thomas 2013

In my early days of rag collecting solo, Kenny was a Designer at Ralph Lauren… In the mid 90’s, he purchased some Japanese indigo boro from my garage, rags that I had randomly picked up in Japan. These 100 year old patched-up textiles were used as back-drops for RL collections rigs at the time… Boro fabric has been pretty much featured on every single fashion blog and magazine by now.
Kenny now is the Creative Director behind Grayers Menswear collections, a skilled photographer, proud Father of Tate and the lesser half of photographer Leeta Harding.
AND my irrelevant comedy routine partner on Instagram 😉


Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder

As head of design at J.Crew in the mid 90’s, Todd and his design team (Frank Muytens was there) regularly visited my non-glamorous warehouse in Sun Valley, CA., to pick up inspirational pieces from the ol’ pile of rags. Graphics, fleece, plaids etc…
Todd has since then launched his successful Todd Snyder label. Frank is now head of Men’s Design at J.Crew.


Toyo Enterprises

Toyo Enterprise

When randomly approached by Tom Tanaka and team at the Mister Freedom® store back in 2006, I was asked to design a pair of jeans, carte blanche… Little did they know that I had NO idea where to start. Made a pair from scratch, a few days before due date.  The “Utility Trousers, MFSC 7161” were born and were the foundation of our on-going MFSC collaborations that keep me clothed every day. Solid folks, all of them.


Kiya Babzani

Kiya Babzani May 2013 Toyo Toyo Dinner May 2013

Kiya and his imported Japanese denim mecca Self Edge was the first US retailer to pick up the Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane line for his store in San Francisco, sometime in 2008.
He now has expanded with several boutiques across America, having earned much respect within the Denimhead World through hard work and expertise.
Furthermore, I am indebted to all independent boutiques and their hard working owners & staff  currently carrying Mister Freedom®.


Katsu & Leo Yoshida

Leo Katsu Yoshida Porter ClassicsLeo & Katsu Yoshida Porter Classics

The design legend and visionary guru behind Japanese ‘Yoshida Kanban’ (‘Porter Bags’) stumbled across an early version of Mister Freedom® store in Los Angeles (Martel Avenue location) sometime in 2004. He quietly picked up vintage items no one was looking for yet, giving me confidence that the early AM hunting wake-up calls were worth it…
Along with his son Leo Yoshida, Katsu launched his own boutique offering his brands in Ginza, Porter Classics. His luggage label ‘Kichizo’ is proudly carrying on the rich Family heritage of bag making.
Katsu and Leo’s new “Quartier Général” restaurant in Ginza, opening sometime in 2013, will surely become my new HQ when in Tokyo…
Cheers Mousquetaires 😉


Sir Paul Smith

Sir Paul Smith

A group of dapper folks set foot into Mister Freedom® store, sometime in 2007… I ended up discussing old rags with a certain Gentleman after he was done shopping.
Quickly realizing that he was more than well versed in vintage textiles and styles, I said : “You must be in design, or something…?”
He replied, humbly: “Yes, a little bit… Kind of keeps me off the streets that.”
We shook hand, he said his name was Paul. Paul Smith.
Subsequently, Paul Smith® was the first European retailer to pick up a season of MFSC clothes (Naval Clothing Tailor, 2008) for one of their boutique in London, as a kind acknowledgment of what I was trying to do with my own thread inclination…


Steve Garbarino

©Sye Williams for BlackBook Magazine (2006)

Mr. Garbarino, then Chief Editor of “BlackBook Magazine”, sent photographer Sye Williams to the store in 2006. He then ran the first paper media article on Mister Freedom® to appear in a US Publication.
I choose to not use PR and keep the advertising budget close to zero, and considering no one had heard of the brand, that was a very nice plug. I talked about wanting to see more three-piece suits in the streets in that article, at a time when streets were plagued by Ed Hardy rhinestones…
Steve has a busy career and is now a contributing editor for ‘The Wall Street Journal’.


Michael Williams

A Continuous Lean ©Michael Williams

The trend forecaster globe trotter and his website needs no introduction. After a visit, Michael ran a bit about Mister Freedom® on his popular “A Continuous Lean” website back in 2008. The first major ‘blog’ to highlight what was going on at 7161 Beverly Boulevard.


Doug Bihlmaier and Bob Melet

Kenny CL BL Doug Bihlmaier 2007 Bob Melet "Melet Mercantile"

As the ‘A’ Team behind all the vintage buying for Ralph Lauren in the 1990’s, these two then partners-in-crime have been responsible for giving me the energy to carry on digging deeper and deeper for hidden treasures…
Doug, the Legend, is still handling all vintage buys at Ralph Lauren. (BL, you’ll appreciate I blurred your face)
Bob owns a design inspirational business of International fame based in New York called “Melet Mercantile” (84 Wooster St., #205, NY, NY 10012, by appointments only.)


Tina Wakino

Tina Wakino, Bazar Photo by Cory Piehowicz ©2012

From bearing with my 7 days/week schedule and my moods, to sanding the floors of the freshly rebuild store mezzanine in 2006… and everything in between and after, Tina has seen it all happen. She can testify of the blood sweat and tears as an insider and a compañera. She has also inspired me to try to become a better person… the hardest task of them all.
For the past 15 years, Tina has been independently operating her own successful and respected business, her boutique “Bazar” (1108c Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA. 90291.)
Merci Cosette 😉


Additionally, warm thank you to all past and present supporters of Mister Freedom®.
We wouldn’t be here today if you hadn’t been there yesterday.

Christophe Loiron,
Laborer at Mister Freedom®



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