MFSC “SEA HUNT”
Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Spring 2014 Collection
Digging through an old box of personal photos kicked a bit of nostalgia dust last year.
There was a time when one didn’t document every minute of daily life with 16 photos per second, so i am very much attached to the few hard copy prints that survived my youth. In one envelop were some mid 1980’s traces of a period of my life that seems to be someone else’s…
I had done some time aboard an old rusty ship of the “Marine Nationale“, up and down the Indian Ocean, around 1985. For the French, Military Service was mandatory until 1996. Should you opt for the Navy, serving consisted of a 12 month course in evading-chores-by-looking-busy’, punctuated by sleep deprivation for those at sea.
At the end of my 1 1/2 year (I piled up since I had nothing better to do), I got skilled at both and was ready for a life of, I envisioned, leisure.
During my tour, blessed were we all by the relative absence of major wars at the time, my ship’s duty included hunting down illegal fishing boats, the likes of which we never actually encountered. Comorian fishermen had obviously been using submarines.
Nonetheless, participating in geopolitical presence in waters known as TAAF (Territoire des Terres Australes et Antartiques Francaises) was great for a 20 year old. I don’t regret any minute of that paid vacation and its many discoveries and lessons.
Having sworn to secrecy under my Confidentiel-Défense status at the time (my specialty was transmission ie. decoding and relaying messages that were way above my head, sent through hi-tech technology that involved a large noisy machine spilling out punched paper tape…), there are obviously things i cannot talk about here. Such as the following, for instance:
* My Lieutenant kicking my sleepy rear to attention around 0500 (pronounce zero-five-hundred for effect, thank you), as i laid motionless on a Mayotte (I think) sun-bleached wooden pontoon (I know). That EV1 had awoken a few minutes before me, a few yards away. We, along with a few of the ship’s finest on that pontoon, had missed the shuttle deadline back to the ship the night before. I have somewhat of a blurry remembrance of that debacle, but I am pretty positive it didn’t involve g Earl Grey and museums. Whatever classy local establishments were honored by our presence that evening have been eradicated from memory. What I, and an agitated taxi driver surely do remember however, is the moment i noticed my wallet was gone…
* On another ‘critical mission’, we moored next to a very tiny remote Indian Ocean island called Juan de Nova. The island was inhabited by a group of intimidating sun-beaten French Paratroopers stationed there. I believe that mission was called: “Hey guys, we were nowhere in the neighborhood, so we decided to stop by”. These Special Forces bunch hadn’t seen much else than each others’ mugs for a while, appeared quite content with it, and used words like they were rationed. Conversing with a yellow-haired skinny squid was not on their priority list.
As a lucky member of the shore party, the emotional equivalent of winning the Lottery, I took a solitary stroll around that island. I was trying to look at it from a Crusoe perspective, immersing in the concept of ‘trapped in Paradise’. As postcard pretty as that island was, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t just ripe for marooning. Today, I might reconsider.
These dudes and that island however, left quite an impression on me. I knew they had some stories. If that island could talk…
Some 30 years later, trying to piece a somewhat coherent story for a new concept, many of these snapshots and memories helped me come up with a brief script, the backdrop of Mister Freedom® mfsc Spring 2014.
This collection might seem to some as a 360º + 90º turn compared to previous MF® line-ups.
I have to admit I was done with the 1900’s, sepia, dark alleys, gangs, smoky gambling saloons, battlefields, the Dust Bowl, revolutions… All good stuff but doing research can be draining, and I wanted a break from chaotic situations. The constant visualization of violence-charged images is a bit disturbing over time.
I longed for Cousteau’s exploits. On COLOR TV!
I realized I was craving for a shot of sun-drenched islands, turquoise lagoons, luxuriant vegetation, adventure, coastal surveying, successful survival stories, tropical scientific journeys and treasure hunting! I wanted the fascinating mental escape that the lure of hidden mysteries brings. I needed the high of discovering and learning something new. Maybe I wanted to play GI Joe again, sans war…
Over the summer of 2013, I religiously listened to a radio show podcast on France-Inter called “Le Temps d’un Bivouac“, highlighting the works of contemporary adventurers, scientists, nomadic philosophers, field writers, anthropologists… Fascinating interviews that turned my commute to work into a blissful moment.
Also, along with watching several documentaries about discoveries and expeditions, some fascinating reads kept me in the mood for this collection (I have become an audible addict):
* “South Sea Tales” by Jack London.
* “River of Doubts” by Candice Millard.
* “Deep Survival” by Laurence Gonzales.
* “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson.
* “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann.
* “Into Africa” by Martin Dugard.
* “Au Congo Jusqu’au Cou” by Patrice Franceschi
* “Between Man and Beast” by Monte Reel.
* “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.
* “Wolf, The Lives of Jack London” by James Haley.
* “The Things They Carry” by Tim O’Brien.
So, here she goes…
The mfsc “SEA HUNT” Story
“And there were these guys I ran into a while back at the Harbor Inn. They called it the Horrible Inn…
A rugged bunch of fun-loving and thrill-seeking daredevils who combed the Earth for adventure, the unanswered, and the occasional gold that crept from under their feet.
From attempts at locating Percy Fawcett’s “City of Z” in the Amazon, to ID-ing obscure sunken U-boats off the New Jersey coast, from privately funded rescue missions of some fortunate survivors, to Government sponsored land survey expeditions of un-charted islands… this for-hire bunch never turned down the perspective of a good thrill and challenging puzzler.
The Team was a kaleidoscope of talents and specialties, combining military backgrounds, academic training, survival skills and passion for discovery with an overall disdain for idleness. Each member pitched in his unique skills and experience, making the Team at home in “Here Be Dragons” areas. On Sea, Land or Air. With some roots in the late 1950’s, the Team fully bloomed in the 60’s and remained very active through the 70’s.
In the summer of 1966, a polaroid of the Team in the debrief room would have included:
An ex Bell UH-1 (pronounce ‘Huey’, again for effect) pilot on Air America, a UDT frogman drop-out, a young archaeologist and maritime historian, a French anthropologist with a stint in the Foreign Legion, a SERE instructor turned American Advisor in Vietnam, an aqua shop clerk versed in 8 languages and ex-corpsman, an honorably discharged Navy ‘snipe’, a less-honorably-discharged ‘deck ape’ with a fondness for extended Liberty outings, along with a Peruvian folk singer. These men constituted the core of this International band of adventurers.
There was a humanitarian and scientific aspect to most missions, but when it came to sunken treasures, the “He who floats it, owns it” mentality mostly took over. There were a few very lucky strikes, and they sometimes wore their “What Sunk Floats My Boat”© Tshirts.
The Team was ultimately beat to the Nuestra Señora de Atocha‘s cargo by the mighty Mel Fisher crew on July 20, 1985, however. A mother lode of $450 million worth of Spanish galleon goodness sitting on the ocean’s floor since 1622. Good for them.
The colorful members of the Team brought their own pro-gear at times, but were always outfitted in custom made garments, with specific designs matching each mission. Borrowing details from uniforms of their previous trade, ordering dye-lots according to specific job requirements, the Team’s style became quite recognizable amongst competitors.
Detailing their wardrobe, the trained eye would spot here and there several familiar references: the pattern of a knife pocket from a USAF Cold Weather Unit flying coveralls, the blue linen fabric characteristic of 50’s French Navy work uniforms, mil-specs zippers from legit field gear, US Army baker pants patterns, genuine parts salvaged from a parachute factory…
Some of their early gear even featured the quite hi-tech ‘Hook and Loop Fastener’ system, invented in 1948 and better known as Velcro. Impressive stuff.
Many of the fabrics they went for were of military origin, such as the WW2 developed textile meant to replace silk in canopy manufacturing, called ‘Ripstop’. And the tight plain-weave of the ‘Weather Cloth’ favored by many in the field for its hard-wearing and wind-breaking qualities…”
(end of fiction!)
The morphing of that made-up Team story into each garment of our “Sea Hunt” Collection spans an era of about 4 decades of influences and inspirational material, from several Continents and many latitudes.
It is not a dated ‘time capsule’, nothing was taken literally. History was speculated with. We keept it light 🙂
As a result, the general vibe of our Spring 2014 might partially qualify as:
* Vintage hi-tech
* Military sans war
* G.I. Joe Adventure Team gear
* Hatari! meets M*A*S*H in an unfashionable pho pas.
* The Calypso goes in-country
* Old-timey Survival and Tactical outfits
* Gym clothes for Astronauts
* Costumes for the 1966 Int’l Man of Action of the Year
* etc, etc… further descriptive left up to everyone’s imagination.
But, we are all pretty stoked about it around here. I dig this one. We hope some of you will too.
So, may the contenders for the 2014 Int’l Men of Action contest stay tuned… The word is about an imminent drop of Sea Hunt gear!
Thank you for reading my ramblings.
And thank you for your support, always.